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Venue: Emirates Stadium, London
Premier League
 Tuesday 1 February; 7:45pm
ARSENAL
2 1
 EVERTON
Arshavin (69')
Koscielny (72')
Half Time: 0-1
Saha (25')
Attendance: 60,014
Fixture 24
Referee: Lee Mason

Match Summary

An unchanged side named by David Moyes, after a painfully barren transfer window saw players mostly leaving rather than joining the potless Blues.

Everton showed some attacking intent form the off, Areteta putting in a couple of nice forward balls and Coleman enjoying a good little dribble that he overran. Wilshire was an early culprit, earning a surprising yellow card inside 5 mins for a kick on Arteta. Rodwell was next to run at Arsenal but lost the challenge with Sagna. More midfield pressure and Arteta again turned and ran forward brightly with the ball, only to get his Achilles stamped on by Fabregas, a really dirty piece of work that certainly deserved a yellow card that was not forthcoming.

Everton totally dominated the first 10 mins as Song went down under a nothing high kick Bily then won their frst corner as they really pushed the Gunners back hard, but an inadvertent handball by Fellaini ended another Everton thrust prematurely. It was 13 mins gone before Arsenak mounted anything approaching an attack, in which a desperate lunge by Distin earned him a yellow card. Neville blocked the free-kick away for a corner that was glanced wide by Koscielny.

However, Arsenal were waking up and a sweeping move down their left let Van Persie set up Fabregas, who drove thankfully wide. The Arsenal forward then tried to bamboozle everyone with a dizzying run down the Everton left but came a croper against Baines. But the pendulum was now swinging well in Arsenal's favour and intervention at the back was needed by Distin.

20 mins gone and Everton were reduced to pass-backs, hoof balls, and lost possession, which ultimately allowed Walcott in on Howard, who saved with his legs. Everton got the ball from the corner but presented it right back to Arsenal. But a move down the right saw a Neville cross land so invitingly for Bilyaletdinov who spurned the first-time shot required and the chance was gone. But in a strange sequence, Everton went ahead after Coleman tried to play in Saha but his forward pass had clipped off a defender Koscielny to Saha, two yards offside, but he turned smartly and slotted home beautifully! Offside when the ball was kicked, yes, but played on by a defender... isn't that how the rule used to work decades ago?!?!

Saha and Bily then got a corner that should have been better used as the Arsneal crowd became increasingly frustrated, mainly with Ref Lee Mason. But Everton kept calm and tried to pass the ball around constructively amidst the raucus atmosphere. However, Bily gave away a corner that Djourou glanced dangerously to the far post and fractionally beyond Van Persie.

Saha was again foraging out by the left wing and won a free-kick that Baines strangely sent square. Sarcastic jeers rang out from th home crowd as Fellaini as called offside. Fabregas got past Rodwell initially, but stalled and then pulled his shot wide. Van Persie then beat the Everton offside trap on a good ball from Walcott but his lob beat the Everton crossbar.

Bily kept getting caught in possession, rather than using his chances to run with the ball. Everton should have scored a second when Bily's shot was stopped by the keeper and Song, Saha couldn't get his shot away, and Arteta's shot was blocked. Baines disposessd Walcott superbly but Everton's build-up was slow, although Fellaini did win a corner when an early cross would have been better.

Everton squandered another glorious chance as Lee Mason again ignored Arsenal screams when Walcott ran into Arteta, and the coross seemed to land right in front of Bily who just wafted at it. Walcott drove through and fired at Howard but was called back for offside as half-time approached. Fellaini got fouled by Rosicky, who was awarded Arsenal's second yellow card. Everton went in at half-time deservedly ahead after playing some good football and showing some desire to take the game to Arsenal and profit, much to the displeasure of the rabid Gunners.

Straight after the kick-off and Rodwell went in over the ball, and onto Mason's yellow card. Van Persie drew a silly shirt-tug by Heitinga on the edge of the area, but Van Persie produced a really lousy free-kick that happpily bounced off the Everton wall, and the ball was soon at Coleman's feet as he ran into the left side of the Arsenal area and won a corner. But Arsenal broke and won a cormer off a good block by Distin that Diaby powered over. Neville then squandered possession in an advanced possition with a hopelessly overhit ball.

Arsenal attacked again but Howard was equal to a Van Persie snapshot as the Blues seemed to be dropping back a little too much. Arteta then got a deep cross in to the far post but it was a difficult chance for the Spaniard to convert. A good spell of Everton possession ended when Arteta gave the ball away and then tapped the ankles of Fabregas: yellow card. Van Persie then tangled with Arteta and he got a yellow card on the hour mark. From a Neville throw-in, Fellaini then Saha beat the defenders and almost got the ball to Bily on the far post. Arshavin then came on for Rosicky, and Osman on for Bilyaletdinov.

Everton looked to be holding their lines without really pressing for a second goal that would help to cement a great victory, each Arsenal attack seeming to carry an increasingly dangerous threat. Osman did his usual thing, getting into a good advanced position only to lose possession. At the other end, Diaby lashed a chance well wide as Bendtner came on for Wilshire.

A strange sequence, Saha breaking with Coleman, the Frenchman chose to shoot along the ground, from just inside the half(!), and seconds later, Arsenal were level as Walcott dinked the ball over the Everton defence and Rodwell, backtracking, headed the ball up nicely for Arshavin to convert, all-too predictably. Howard was booked for stupidly holding on to the ball.

Osman was booked for clipping Walcott in full flight, and Howard produced an excellent save to keep it out, but it was all for nothing, as Koscielny headed home easily for a simple textbook goal off the corner. Another winnable game squandered by poor defensive discipline. Everton, having failed to push home the advantage when they carried so much of the impetus, were now backs to the wall and rocking. Anichebe on for Coleman was the manager's reposte.

Everton looked to attack but structure and cohesion was lacking and Jagielka ultimately played the ball nowhere, as the game looked up for the despairing Blues, while Arsenal, scenting blood, pushed them back agian. Anichebe won a corner that Artea floated over to Rodwell, who was called for climbing.

A srappy Everton attack composed of softly hit air-balls ended with a lame header from Osman, with barely 5 mins to rescue a draw from a game that should have been won in the first half. Clichy waltzed past a couple of Everton defenders near the end but no-one could finish his cut-back and Everton looked to make something of the 5 added minutes. However, it was not to be.

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

There is a depressing inevitability about this fixture, one that Everton haven't won in 15 years. For many a year, a trip to Arsenal usually ended in a sound beating the nadir, of course, being that 7-0 drubbing at the end of the 2003-04 season that was laughed off in the context of David Moyes's side having just finished in the Champions League places but in four of the last five seasons now, the Blues have actually put themselves in the driving seat at the Emirates but failed to come away with a precious victory.

Where last season's 2-2 draw was agonising in its cruelty Tomasz Rosciky's injury-time strike taking an all-important deflection off Lucas Neill to take it past Tim Howard's despairing dive tonight you were left with the bitter feeling that Everton had surrendered this one rather than being out-played or out-witted by a superior team.

Make no mistake, Arsenal are, of course, the better side but they were frustrated into an at times dirty and cynical performance by a rousing first-half display by the visitors that yielded a hugely contentious goal by Louis Saha that meant Everton led 1-0 until the last quarter of the match. It could be argued that the Gunners took their fury at referee Lee Mason for allowing a goal that was either clearly offside or legitimate because the last touch was a deliberate one by Koscielny out on their opponents but Cesc Fabregas had raked his studs down the back of Mikel Arteta's a quarter of an hour before Louis Saha's superb finish had flown past Szczesny.

As expected Moyes named an unchanged line-up and retained the formation that had proved successful against Chelsea. Jack Rodwell was again deployed behind Saha and Everton took the game to their hosts in impressive fashion from the first whistle. Indeed, Arsenal didn't get near the opposition penalty area until the 14th minute and though that triggered a fairly swift shift in momentum away from the Blues for the next 10 minutes, Arsene Wenger's side weren't able to make it pay.

A typically sublime move that carved Everton open down the right ended with Robin van Persie back-heeling into the path of Fabregas but the Spaniard rapped his shot wide of the target after 15 minutes, and seven minutes after that Theo Walcott found himself with just Howard to beat from the angle but the American saved smartly with his feet.

At the other end, Everton were moving the ball about very nicely at times but had only shown flashes of creating an opening until Seamus Coleman drove forward and poked the ball forward towards Saha. The Frenchman was a couple of yards offside at the time the ball was struck but when Koscielny stuck out a boot and sliced the ball into Saha's path, play was allowed to go on and Everton's no. 8 belted it unerringly into the far corner from outside the box.

The home crowd were incensed and Arsenal responded by upping the tempo, Djourou glancing a corner dangerously across the face of goal, Fabregas racing into the clear only to effect a poor first touch that let Rodwell get back to cover, and Wilshere picking Van Persie out with a deft chip that the Dutchman couldn't clip over Howard, the ball sailing over the bar instead.

Half time and so far so good for Everton. So quite why Moyes, as he is so annoyingly wont to do, chose to mess with a system that was working in favour of his legendary defensive setup would be anyone's guess if we didn't know the manager so well.

When the second half kicked off, Rodwell initially looked to have been pushed back into defensive midfield and Arteta moved in behind Saha but it quickly became apparent that the striker had been deserted completely, left to chase lost causes up front asn Arsenal seized the initiative and pegged the Blues back.

And yet despite having surrended so much possession and territory, Everton held firm for the first half an hour after the restart. Rosicky shot well wide from 20 yards, Van Persie despatched a direct free kick lamely into the defensive wall, Diaby headed over from a corner and Van Persie again shot straight at Howard.

But there were signs as the half progressed that Arsenal would eventually find a piece of magic to unlock the visitors' defence, not least when Andrey Arshavin clipped the ball over the top to Van Persie but he scuffed a half-volley wide. When the Russian found himself on the end of a similarly deft chip from Fabregas, though, via a back-header by Rodwell, the substitute side-footed past Howard to level the game and break the back of Everton's defensive stand.

Five minutes later, after Nicolas Bendtner had planted an overhead kick into Howard's arms, Leon Osman caught the heels of Walcott in full flight setting up a free kick that Van Persie fired towards the top corner, only for Howard to claw his effort behind. From the resulting corner, though, Koscielny was allowed to peel away from his marker Sylvain Distin or John Heitinga, it's hard to know which as they both were guilty of ball-watching and he had the simple task of nodding home from six yards out.

Moyes responded quickly but with two more utterly baffling decisions, pulling off both Phil Neville and Coleman, throwing Phil Jagielka on at right back and Victor Anichebe up front. Jermaine Beckford, the more mobile and more prolific striker was mystifyingly left on the bench in favour of a bigger physical presence and there was little surprise that it yielded almost nothing but a series of balls pumped aimlessly towards the Arsenal box.

Five minutes of injury time and no sign of anything approaching an Everton equaliser ensued before time was called on another disappointing game against Arsenal. From a position of real strength, the Blues let it all slip away by sitting back and inviting Arsenal forward, compounding that error with poor defending, and then leaving themselves impotent with poor substitutions when chasing the game.

It puts the pressure squarely on their shoulders when they return to Goodison Park for the visit of a Blackpool side that doesn't lack spirit or gumption. Given Everton's frailties, particularly in front of their home fans, it will be a severe test of their mettle at a time when a relegation scrap looks far more likely than one for Europe.

As the first half here showed, this is a decent Everton side that is far too good to go down when it plays the right way but sooner or later they're going to have to start winning... and for that you need to score more than once if you can't successfully defend the lead. The manager appeared to have the right idea against Chelsea on Saturday but for me he got it all wrong tonight and it's hard to escape the feeling that, with such a small pool of players and no prospect of any fresh blood on the horizon, once again we appear to be going nowhere.

Player Ratings: Howard 7, Neville 6 (Jagielka 6), Heitinga 6, Distin 6, Baines 7, Coleman 7 (Anichebe 5), Arteta 7, Fellaini 8* Bilyaletdinov 6 (Osman 5), Rodwell 7, Saha 7

Author

Match Preview

If Everton needed a warm-up for their FA Cup Fourth Round replay at Stamford Bridge, a ground where they haven't won so far this century, a midweek clash away at Arsenal, where they haven't so far this century, could provide it. But in the wake of another incredulously barren transfer window, you could forgive David Moyes and his men for feelings of inadequacy and going up against the second-place Gunners probably won't help.

With no new faces, Moyes's team selection will probably look very close to the one that drew with Chelsea on Saturday, with Louis Saha leading a 4-5-1 formation and perhaps the only question mark concerning who will get the nod immediately behind him.

Tim Cahill's involvement in the Asia Cup is over but he will be given the rest of the week at least to recover from his exploits in Qatar and Victor Anichebe remains doubtful after missing out at the weekend with a groin strain.

Jack Rodwell acquitted himself well in the Cahill role against Chelsea without really showing he could be the answer and there are other options — Arteta, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov — but Moyes may opt for continuity for the visit to the Emirates rather than change things up too much.

The Blues came within a couple of minutes of winning this fixture for the first time in 14 years last season but, notably, the man who scored what might have been the spectacular winner is now plying his trade for Arsenal's rivals, Tottenham, and Landon Donovan, the other star of that day, has his feet up in Los Angeles.

If there's one thing to be said, though, it's that Moyes's men have done well against the big teams so far this season — although the only one of the front-runners they've lost to is Arsenal. It should be an interesting one.

Lyndon Lloyd

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

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ARSENAL (4-4-2)
  Szczesny
  Sagna
  Djourou
  Koscielny
  Clichy
  Song (46' Diaby)
  Wilshere :5' (69' Bendtner)
  Walcott
  Fabregas
  Rosicky :45' (62' Arshavin)
  Van Persie :60'
  Subs not used
  Almunia
  Eboue
  Gibbs
  Chamakh

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard :70'
  Neville (78' Jagielka)
  Distin :14'
  Heitinga
  Baines
  Fellaini
  Arteta :59'
  Bilyaletdinov (65' Osman :68')
  Coleman (78' Anichebe)
  Rodwell :46'
  Saha
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Gueye
  Baxter
  Beckford
  Unavailable
  Barclay (injured)
  Cahill (recovering)
  Agard (loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yakubu (loan)
  Yobo (loan)

Premier League Scores
Tuesday
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Man Utd 3-1 Aston Villa
Sunderland 2-4 Chelsea
West Brom 2-2 Wigan
Wednesday
Birmingham 2-2 Man City
Blackburn 0-1 Tottenham
Blackpool 1-3 West Ham
Bolton 1-0 Wolves
Fulham 1-0 Newcastle
Liverpool 2-0 Stoke


Team Pts
1 Manchester United 54
2 Arsenal 49
3 Manchester City 46
4 Chelsea 44
5 Tottenham Hotspur 41
6 Sunderland 37
7 Liverpool 35
8 Bolton Wanderers 33
9 Blackburn Rovers 31
10 Newcastle United 30
11 Stoke City 30
12 Fulham 29
13 Blackpool 28
14 Aston Villa 28
15 Everton 27
16 West Bromwich Albion 26
17 Birmingham City 24
18 West Ham United 24
19 Wigan Athletic 23
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21



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