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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Silverware from a good start - Arsenal 3 - 1 Everton

Mikel Arteta displaying the spoils
It's a real shame that pre-season results mean next to nothing as Arsenal were outstanding yesterday for the first 70 minutes of the game. Of course the heat and the exertion of playing at high intensity so early in the fitness programme eventually saw the performance peter out slightly, but what went before was more than encouraging.
When I saw the Everton team I was concerned for the ankles and shins of the Arsenal midfield - playing against a combination of Barry and Cleverley might often be a recipe for taking a kicking. As it turned out they simply weren't quick enough to get close to the dominant Arsenal team. If it wasn't for a combination of poor finishing, refusing to shoot, the referee totally ignoring a clear foul on Olivier Giroud in the penalty area, or Aaron Ramsey being too cocky (as usual) then Arsenal would have won by a fantastic margin.
Early on it looked like Jack Wilshere might be getting in down the left but Seamus Coleman came out of nowhere with his pace to get back at Jack. Martin Tyler raved about the pace from the Everton man (Jack was, I think, still slightly suffering from the game on Wednesday). Five minutes or so later Coleman was left for dead by Theo Walcott as he got on the end of a stunning pass  from Santi Cazorla to make it 1-0. It was a superb finish from Theo. Mr Tyler didn't mention Theo's pace being far beyond even that of Coleman.
Arsenal went on to keep Everton trapped in their own half. There was one run from Deolofeu that looked like it might lead to an Everton goal but that was all they really managed to offer until late on. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Jack Wilshere at half-time and added even more pace to the Arsenal attack. Two or three times he went on fantastic solo runs that Everton's defenders simply couldn't get near to. With Cazorla looking really good and Ozil growing in to the game it was only a matter of time before we got a second. Cazorla provided the goal from just outside the penalty area having wrong-footed at least two defenders and the goalkeeper.
The third goal was a lovely move between Ozil and Cazorla. Having laid it off to Santi, Ozil got on his bike and ran in behind the Everton defence. Cazorla played him in (if Ozil hadn't controlled it then Walcott would have been in on goal too) and it was placed perfectly beyond the goalkeeper and in to the net. Arsenal really had played some tremendous stuff and thoroughly merited a 3-0 lead. Inevitably the foot then came off the pedal as we started to go through the motions.
With Arsenal slowing down completely it was no surprise that Everton got a goal back. The Ox gave the ball away really badly about thirty yards from his own goal and then Barkley rocketed a shot past the impressive Petr Cech. No doubt Cech might have now realised he isn't playing behind the Chelsea bus. It was frustrating to concede like that. It's only pre-season, of course, but this Arsenal team has a nasty habit of conceding unnecessary late goals - it's an unpleasant habit that could prove costly come next May. There was still time for Chuba Akpom to snatch badly at a chance when put through on the goalkeeper and that was a real disappointment to me - a goal against a Premier League side would have been an important marker for him in front of Arsene Wenger.
So we have another trophy in the cabinet, albeit one that is of no importance whatsoever. Regardless of that, I 'd rather be in the habit of winning than of losing. The performance was great to watch and showed that our players already have a superb level of fitness heading in to the new season. They now face a few more days of re-adjusting back to our own clock, as well as working hard on the training ground. At the end of the week it's the Emirates Cup and our first look at the side at home this season. I can't wait for it. How about a new signing this week Arsene?

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