Arsenal 4 - 1 Everton
Half-time: 1 - 1
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 Game 11
3pm Saturday 16 October 1999
Everton got off to a perfect start after 15 mins when Scotland's John Collins
curled a beautiful free kick past the despairing England 'keeper and in off
the post. Everton then took the game to Arsenal, and ,made a couple
of other chances, before The Gunners gradually forced their way back in to
the match. A Bergkamp free-kick, unluckily awarded against Xavier, led
to their scrappy equalizer when Dixon scrambled in the rebound off the bar.
Arsenal started very strongly in the second half and the pressure soon paid
off, with Suker smashing the ball home. Arsenal then put Everton under the
cosh, with Suker yet again unmarked and able to make it 3-1 before they settled
back to torment the Blues, playing them off the park. Paul Gerrard kept
the score semi-respectable with an incredible display of saves.
Dixon (40'), Suker (54', 61'), Kanu (91')
Subs Not Used
Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Keown, Adams, Suker,
Bergkamp (69' Kanu), Overmars (66' Silvinho), Parlour (75' Ljungberg), Grimandi.
Gerrard; Weir, Unsworth (80' Cleland), Gough, Ball; Barmby,
Xavier, Gemmill (76' Cadamarteri), Collins; Hutchison; Campbell.
Unavailable: Dunne, Myhre, Williamson, Parkinson
(injured); Grant (on loan); Bilic (in limbo); Branch,
Farrelly, O'Kane (transfer-listed).
Simonsen, Watson, Johnson.
Red & white shirts; white shorts; re
Royal Blue shirts; blue shorts; blue socks.
A Very Painful
For the first 35 mins things seemed to be going very well, with Arsenal in
general being more hesitant and respectful, although they were constantly
fed by the blues giving the ball away by playing to feet theirs. Collins
played a blinder all match I was totally amazed about his commitment
and class today; even his distribution was pretty good, and the free-kick
for our goal was totally superb.
Annoyingly their first goal (heralding 5 or 6 Blues doing a better roll over
and die impersonation than Lassie) was assisted by a chicken-shit linesman,
who was close enough to actually bend over to look at the ball which had
passed 6 inches over the line (I was sitting directly in line behind and
had a perfect view, our throw) then didn't raise his flag. Cue a couple of
Blues hesitating and the free-kick conceded which led to directly to their
first goal (and more naive defending - two of them ran behind our wall
unchallenged to pounce on Gerrard's heroic block).
Gough was his usual committed self, although frequently seemed to be the
only Blue defender with any inkling at all about where Arsenal actually might
play the ball, with the rest of the back five exposed for the brainless donkeys
they generally tend to be when faced with opposition who can actually vary
tactics and spray the ball about during the game.
Other surprises Hutchison seemed desperate not to get himself booked
today (in fact there wasn't a single booking the whole game). Every challenge
he seemed to stay bolt upright with his arms held aloft in the "I didn't
touch him, ref" pose, usually allowing a red shirt to leave him for dead.
Without his scything tackles and aggression, Hutchison is a very average
player especially when Walter pinned him in midfield for the whole
of the second half, pushing Barmby forward in a half-hearted, half cocked
supportive role of Campbell. Why, Walter, why?
Barmby played a stinker the whole game, and I actually felt sorry for Campbell
he is totally useless when played as a lone target man up front,
especially with tall defenders. The sole tactic of the second half (and I
mean sole tactic a frightening time warp to the Royle-Kendall years)
was to punt a pessimistic lob towards the Arsenal goal Campbell barely
got a look-in, and when he did, he just gave a pale impersonation of
Big Dunc at his most groin-strained, heading on to non-existent support or
straight to the feet of a grateful defender. When Barmby did stray forward,
he had to endure inaccurate lobs played 18 inches higher than he could reach,
all afternoon. Sad. The whole team bar Gough and Gerrard seemed to take on
the skill and mentality of Unsworth kick and hope. Be afraid, be very
Gemmill never put a foot right all day he was breathtakingly inept
and gave the ball away so many times it became embarrassing. A Scottish,
Farrelly-type performance yes, as bad as that! Xavier looked frightened
to make a tackle and made to look a little slow and out of his depth by some
of their better players.
After a few minutes of the second half we were being totally outclassed.
The EFC crowd and myself were baying for Walter to put some subs on, but
astonishingly, he waited and waited (what a familiar story just what
do Walter and Archie do at half time, and why can't they change the shape
of the team purposefully, using subs) until 12 mins from the end before subbing
Gemmill then put on Cadamarteri, straight into Gemmill's midfield
slot on the right, leaving the totally ineffectual Barmby up front leaping
for 10 foot high headers shurely shum mishtake here, Walter.
Predictably, Cadamarteri picked up Gemmill's gauntlet by giving away possession
in the most pathetic ways possible, or even more disgracefully, overhitting
passes to marked colleagues then running into space straight behind an Arsenal
player so that he couldn't receive the pass back which his lack of basic
skill had necessitated. This man is a disgrace and should be given away now.
Most depressing for me was Ball the worst I have ever seen him play.
All his faults were on display today he failed to make important tackles,
he left huge amounts of space for Bergkamp and Suker to run into unchallenged,
all day, and constantly drifted out of position (left back) not spotted
by the Arsenal players in the first half who seemed to be attacking the right
back/right post area, but clearly spotted by Wenger, who got his team, and
Suker in particular, channeling everything down the right-hand side and we
had to watch them opening us up like we weren't there. Which was true in
Ball's case he played like an amateur.
By the time Walter had put on Cleland, Wenger had already made 3 substitutions,
at 10 minute intervals. I know the talent on our bench was paltry compared
to theirs, but honestly, we were so crap in the second half, and so unimaginative
and one dimensional, that anything would have been worth a try not
get routed and change nothing, Walter, bloody hell. And why put Cleland on
1 minute after Cadamarteri had come on why not both together? Panic?
Gerrard made some truly impressive saves, especially managing to block a
number of perfect shots just under the bar travelling very hard. Man of the
Match by a mile. Thankfully, Arsenal chose not to expose his fundamental
weakness I don't think he had a single high cross under pressure to
So there we have it the contradiction that is Everton. Game of two
halves? Bloody right. I never want to witness such a dreadful performance
like that again, especially from Tactics 'Rn't Us Walter Smith. This was
a painful capitulation. Sorry.
Well, what did you
Mickey Blue Eyes
Its years since I've been to Highbury. Seemed much smaller than my memory.
The new North Stand is a superb design, given site restrictions.... I
particularly liked the low wall at the front of the upper stand. It minimised
the structure in favour of seeing banks of species. Nice one, designer. The
South Stand two-tiered executive boxes are an abomination, privilege towering
over the proles below. Damn stupid.
Easy to see why Arsenal want to move though. They just can't go any further
with the ground. And now Highbury looks somewhat quaint, like ours. Except
ours looks like some young tosser from an Architect's Association first year
deconstructivist class has been let loose.
We had tremendous support in the ground. The first half was really heartening.
Naturally, the second half had us all mostly sitting on our hands instead
of out of our seats. You can't blame the fans. You can't cheer players when
they haven't got and can't get the ball.
Am I delaying a real match report? Too right I am. Here's why: We lost 4-1.
It HURTS. But nil desparandum, people. A year ago we would never have given
them the shock we delivered in the first half. And with a fit and rarin'
Big Ears....who knows? Still, the fact is......
The Arse started well and might have got a couple in the opening minutes
after slicing through left and right. I watched the brilliant little Cheesehead
1 (Overmars) glumly on the left as he threatened his usual mayhem. But then,
suddenly and inexplicably (the reason, in the end, why we all love the game)
the match turned arse over tit when we got a free kick left of centre about
30 m out at the North Stand end. The Don shaped to take it, left it, and
Collins delivered a free kick which must have moved over a one metre ellipse
before getting into the net at the only place it could: Seaman's top
right corner, against the underside of the bar, down and in. The Big Fella
almost got it, too... but didn't. Which promptly caused a heaving tidal wave
of blue and white in the away section... to say nothing of more than a few
incredulous Scouse kippers, mine included.
Its unclear what happened to the Arse's concentration then, especially
in midfield and the centre of their defence. For the next 25 minutes, odd
scare apart, we were all over the Gunners, even though they had most possession
and slightly more of the landscape. We missed a couple and Campbell almost
broke their off-side trap on more than a few occasions. We battled them
everywhere and won most of the skirmishes. Scot Gemmill was outstanding during
this spell and so was Goughie... but they were all playing well, totally
committed. Ever the optimist, I began to think, "Weeellll... could it just
Then, ten minutes before half time, the Arse started giving a better service
to Overmarsbar and he started to turn everyone inside out. The brilliant
little twat was always my biggest worry. You could have written the script
for the rest. They started to dominate midfield, kept coming forward and
we all started praying for half time. Minutes to go.. free kick not much
different to ours... Cheesehead 2 Squint (Bergkamp) took it... hit the bar
in the same place but came out....and there was Owl Arse Lee Dixon almost
stumbling over to run it in for his Testimonial. You could almost feel the
relief amongst the Arse fans. That's a good measure of how well we'd done
up to that point.
Somebody must've broken crockery in the Arsenal dressing room at half time
because they came out and MURDERED us from the opening whistle to the last.
We were never in it for a moment. They won the ball all over the park. Sometimes
it seemed like minutes before we even touched the thing. It was only a matter
of time before they scored again. It wasn't just down the left, it was down
the right too. I haven't seen us so comprehensively overwhelmed since the
Mancs ran rings around us at Goodison last season. Both Parlour and Overmars
were terrific. Not surprising then, when two superb early second-half moves
down the left sliced through via Cheesehead 1 and the ball was rolled across
the box from left to right to an unmarked Suker (vastly overrated player
in my book) for chances which even Victor Meldrew coulda put in.
From then on, it was Paul Gerrard versus Everyone. It was what we used to
call "shots in." Well, Paul didn't let us down. The lad was magnificent and
made at least three world-class (no exaggeration) saves... he'll be pissed
off at the result, as we all were, but this display will have done his confidence
the world of good. I know how that sounds looking at the scoreline, but it's
true. No way Tommy's getting back in now...
Take nothing away from Arsenal. They were just great. We never got a sniff
in the second half. Their back four were unbeatable, never more emphasised
than when we subbed with Danny Cadamarteri and Winterburn tackled him four
times in as many minutes, winning the ball superbly and cleanly on each occasion.
I had hoped that maybe Adams-Keown might show their age, but not a bit of
it. The twats were totally dominant.
The midfield balance completely reversed when Vieira got himself into the
right mood and started to win everything, including fifty-fifties. In fact
the third goal came when he won a midfield tussle with The Don and switch
passes with Cheesehead 1. The fourth came roughly the same way as the second
and the third and sub Kanu couldn't and didn't miss with a screamer. In between,
Parlour almost scored one of the goals of the century when he dribbled in
from the right and left Rhino on his, erm, lardarse, but switched to his
left foot and poked it wide.
Arsenal's strength in depth was shown by the subs they brought on. All of
them were better than anything we had to offer by that stage. Personally
I was particularly delighted to see the back of Cheesehead 1 and Parlour.
The bastards managed to depress me for a solid hour of playing time.
For us, not much to say really. No point having a go at anyone in particular.
They tried their best and it simply wasn't good enough. No point booing anyone,
as some fans booed The Don.... who was at his most fractious but mercifully
steered clear of a card or two. Nobody missed Big Ears more than Kevin Campbell.
He ploughed a lonely field for most of this match and even won an acceptable
but diminishing amount of the contests. Barmby was switched up front with
him after the third but it was a waste of time. Nicky's no striker and all
the world knows it. No point either having a go at Bally because three of
the goals came in his zone. There were other players who could and should've
marked the open spaces. The fact is, Arsenal's classy play had us in tatters.
Everyone's fave Lardarse was back and thereby introduced an interesting formation
problem. He was played left centre with Goughie while Davey Weir moved to
right-back to get slaughtered by Cheesehead 1. Here's the problem: Gough-Unsworth
is nowhere near as good as Gough-Weir, probably because Rhino is nowhere
near as fast as Weir. Thus the central defensive chemistry goes to hell.
If Lardarse goes to full back.....weelll, we've already tried that, haven't
All this goes through your mind while you're getting shredded and groaning
inwardly for the referee to blow his whistle and let you go and bang your
head on the nearest wall. Incidentally, odd loony decision apart, the ref
had a good match: no card waving, he let the game flow. Nice one, Mr Dunn.
So....a long and tiring journey, we got slaughtered as some us thought we
would anyway. But, and this really is an important BUT, we scared the living
daylights outta them in the first half. It couldn't have happened last season.
With a fit Big Ears in the side....who knows? C'est la vie.
Looking forward to the Leeds match, we face similar playing problems. However,
Leeds are a young side and they might not survive a first half display such
as Saturday's. Hope and pray this is so.
I don't really want to talk about the game, for obvious reasons. However,
as everyone made my birthday weekend really special, I suppose I should say
As my dad dropped us off at Lime Street, he gave us the old "Don't know what
you're going there for" speech. "Just one goal will make me happy, Dad. I
know we're a league apart from them," was my unusually pessimistic reply.
I had decided in August to go to Arsenal away for my birthday. I didn't expect
anything out of the game then, and the feeling hadn't altered when I arrived
at the World's End.
It was great to see everybody. According to Andy, I went bright pink (but
not red) when the surprisingly tuneful NTAS choir was singing "Happy Birthday"
and "Sweet Sixteen." Steal told me that Billy Williams had volunteered to
pay for my ticket, and somebody - but I have no idea who - put a pound coin
in my hairclip! Eventually, it was time to go up to the ground, and to prepare
for the afternoon ahead.
With only half of the formidable Jeffers-Campbell partnership available,
the 90 minutes ahead looked bleak. We almost took the lead from kick-off,
with Hutchison going close. If that was not surprise enough, imagine the
excitement when we won a free kick, just to the left side of the goal. Collins
stepped up to take it, and it seemed to be totally inaccurate. It looked
as though it was heading for the centre of the stand, until I realised that
it was curling inwards, ever so slightly. Slowly, it wove its way through
the air, towards the goal. Seaman was fooled by it, and suddenly we were
all on our feet. We had just taken the lead with one of the most delicious
free kicks I have ever seen. Absolute pandemonium ensued.
The game soon resumed, but could we hold onto our slender lead? We did, for
the majority of the first half. Even though Arsenal tried to come back at
us, we still pushed forwards. Hutchison should have doubled our lead, only
for Seaman to make a fantastic save to deny him.
In all honesty, I passed most of the half just staring at the scoreboard.
Arsenal 0, Everton 1 was a beautiful sight, and I wanted to make the most
of it! However, when Arsenal began an attack on the stroke of half-time,
I paid attention. Arsenal began to attack down the right. Through a challenge,
they lost possession. The ball, with the linesman watching it, rolled towards
the line. It passed across it before Parlour picked it up and carried on.
All of the time, the linesman was watching, and just ignored it.
Other NTAS personnel may argue differently but I was only drinking
water as usual on Saturday, and I think the ball crossed the line!
Nevertheless, the ball was brought infield, one of their players was tripped
on the edge of the box, and Arsenal were awarded a free kick.
They piled forward in numbers, they had the luck of a rebound off the crossbar,
which rolled down Dixon's arm. He put it in the back of the net. 1-1. Replays
of the goal have failed to convince me that he did not handle it, so I still
feel absolutely robbed of a half-time lead.
In the first half, we had taught Arsenal how to play football. In the second,
they showed us everything they had learned. That was it really. The afternoon
ended for me when Walter Smith changed his winning side at half-time. That
said, Arsenal motivated themselves enough to go out and take all three points
after the break. I wonder what Mr. Wenger puts in the half-time tea at Highbury.
Whatever it is, maybe Walter Smith should invest in some.....
It was a real game of two halves. Collins was my Man of the Match for the
first half. It was probably his best performance in a blue shirt so far.
However, in the second half, and probably overall, Gerrard takes it. His
superb treble-save in the second half was the stuff of legends he
is no Nev, but he kept the scoreline down.
One of the most amusing sights of the day was an Arsenal fan wearing a replica
shirt with the following words printed on the back: "Dennis Why fly?
You can already walk on water!"
So, we've come back down to earth. Yes, the landing does hurt, but look at
what we have done so far. It's mid-October, we've had some fantastic results
and we are seventh in the League. When was the last time we could say that
at this stage?
Don't forget to blame the Manager of the Month curse for the defeat
it happens every time!
Once again, thanks to everyone who made this last weekend so enjoyable, despite
the result. Hopefully, I'll see you all again for next year's exciting
installment (when Jenny will be old enough to start crashing her parents'
Also, Kay enjoyed her second NTAS outing so much that she didn't make it
home, thanks to the hospitality of Steal. She can't wait for the Christmas
party, has vowed not to drink let's see how long that lasts, and I
expect her to maintain her 100% defeat record at the Chelsea game beforehand.
Not much to say
We matched them for 35 minutes but started defending too deep late in the
Collins' free-kick was a beauty although we could have been behind at that
Second half we came out too negative but it has to be said Arsenal were
Walter Smith's changes at half time really affected our play. The midfield
just lost it... every time we cleared, the ball came back to us. No chance
of a breather for the defence. Don't know what Wally said to them at half
time, either, but we all looked half asleep, whereas Arsenal were raring
to go. The midfield as a unit was ineffective in the second half: we
do need better quality there.
It's also obvious we have no real replacement for Franny Jeffers. Having
one up front allows the opposition to attack without fear and Arsenal took
us apart in the end.
Ball 5 OK, but gets caught out too easily. 1st half he was pretty
good, although he does seem to be lacking in a bit of confidence...certainly
not as cocky as he used to be. Needs to get that back, but he's still only
Unsworth 6 Good, particularly 1st half. He's much better playing in
Weir 6 Not a right back. Very poor, but dread to think what Dunne
would have been like against Overmars... lucky not to have played!!!
Collins 8 Brilliant first half; our best outfield player
Hutch 7 Mixed it up alongside Kev in the first half, but Wally's strategic
error was to move him back into midfield for the second half.
Xavier 5 Most disappointing by far; watched him for about 5 minutes
and he did absolutely nothing... just jogged about. No tackling, no chasing,
no running with the ball and when he passes it, the ball travels about 5
ft, normally backwards!
Barmby 6 Moved up front ion the second half, and had absolutely no
Campbell 7 Worked his nuts off
Cadamarteri & Cleland No time to judge them
Suker's swift double opens class divide
Patrick Barclay, Electronic Telegraph
A WIN here would have put Everton above their hosts in the table. Perhaps
this fuelled the determination of Arsenal, thrice beaten in the Premiership
already, to start punching their full weight.
Poor Everton. Having led through a John Collins free-kick, they held out
until a rare piece of opportunism from Lee Dixon five minutes before the
interval but were comprehensively taken apart on the resumption, Davor Suker
scoring twice in swift succession to make his tally six goals in 10 appearances
- four as substitute - for the Highbury club. Substitute Kanu struck in stoppage
At least Walter Smith's team did not suffer the "tonking" Dixon promises
some side are due soon. But the margin might have been doubled during Arsenal's
coruscating second half. The goals apart, there were brilliant saves by Paul
Gerrard from Suker and Kanu, a brave one from the Nigerian and a reprieve
when Ray Parlour, having dribbled past three men, declined to trust his left
foot and missed an open goal with an over-optimistic stab of his right.
So bring on Barcelona. Arsène Wenger used a team as near as possible
to full strength in this one clearly Emmanuel Petit was not fit
and a gulf in class was blatant after Smith plucked Nicky Barmby out of midfield
to assist Kevin Campbell up front. "It was a good theory," Smith said, "but
it didn't work." According to Wenger, Everton were already running out of
steam by then . . . and Arsenal building up a formidable head.
"Against Barcelona," he pointed out afterwards, "it will be much more difficult
to get the ball back." And the rest. But this can only have bolstered Arsenal's
confidence for a match in which, lacking Petit, they are likely to have Fredrik
Ljungberg in midfield. The Swede has found his feet at Highbury and, in Stockholm
last weekend, earned the gratitude of all Englishmen when his clever pass
all but knocked Poland out of the European Championship. Here Gilles Grimandi,
who is banned from Europe, played alongside his compatriot, Patrick Vieira,
Ljungberg replacing Parlour towards the end.
We had been reminded of another forthcoming event when Tony Adams fouled
Don Hutchison 25 yards out and this England-Scotland skirmish went the blues'
way as Collins, Craig Brown's set-piece specialist, stepped up to curl a
magnificent left-footer in off the underside of David Seaman's crossbar;
non-Evertonian Scots may have considered it about a month too early.
Before long Seaman was again scrambling, turning the ball behind after Hutchison
had flipped and volleyed in a manner reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp.
The main problem for Everton was Marc Overmars' mastery over David Weir.
Otherwise they defended solidly enough at this stage, none better than Richard
Gough, though not even he could do anything about the equaliser. Again the
origins lay in a free-kick, earned by Nigel Winterburn as Abel Xavier challenged.
Bergkamp beat the wall, struck the crossbar and when the ball bounced down,
Dixon was following up alone to chest and finally prod over the line his
first goal in nearly three years.
Wenger's midfield had coped well enough with numerical disadvantage, Vieira
emphasising his key contribution with a ferocious low drive that was only
inches off target. But the ensuing purple patch was irresistible, Adams advancing
to win the ball from Weir for Overmars, out wide, to serve Suker at the far
post. The Croatian then clipped in Bergkamp's cross, again with vintage aplomb,
to make the remainder a highly entertaining formality.
Everton were waiting breathlessly for the mercy of the final whistle when
Suker's header enabled Kanu to blast the ball beyond Gerrard.
Super Suker's double
by Ian Hawkey, The Sunday Times
ONE down after quarter of an hour, all sorts of unaccustomed worries were
passing through the mind of Arsène Wenger. A fourth Premiership defeat,
the Arsenal manager figured, would have ended his title aspirations. His
players' minds, he may also have calculated, must be fixed on the middle
distance - namely Barcelona, in the Champions League this week.
In the event, Arsenal snapped out of it, finishing the contest so much in
command that it was tempting to call Everton's earlier advantage a freak,
or a fluke. It was neither, but it had required a magnificent free kick from
John Collins to bring it about. Once Dennis Bergkamp struck a similar set-piece
almost as well, Lee Dixon finishing off the job, Arsenal barely looked back.
Davor Suker embroidered a fine performance with two goals and Kanu contributed
his customary cameo.
But for goalkeeper Paul Gerrard, others would have added more, yet Arsenal
will still want to start with greater fluency against the Spaniards at Wembley
on Tuesday than they did yesterday. Theirs was a first half in which too
often possession was careless and, after Patrick Vieira had headed an early
corner over, Arsenal flattered to deceive for much of the first 30 minutes.
"It was a mental thing," concluded Wenger. "We made a slow start and it was
important psychologically to get back before half-time."
Once they had done that, the chances cascaded. Wenger thought that after
4pm, Arsenal played their best 45 minutes of this season so far. With Marc
Overmars over his recent dip in form and Suker voracious, he may have been
right. Bergkamp could do with a first goal since early August, though.
Initially, set-pieces would dictate both teams' fortunes. While the quality
of Collins's strike from 25 yards would take some beating, Bergkamp's response,
to set up the equaliser, was its inferior only by half an inch or so. Both
players struck the crossbar, Collins's free kick bouncing down beyond Seaman,
Bergkamp's rebounding into the path of Dixon, who bundled the ball home.
There was life in the contest apart from dead-balls, however. Don Hutchison
posed problems until he was withdrawn into a deeper midfield role and, in
defence, Everton presented Arsenal with a stout set of obstacles early on.
Richard Gough and David Weir tackled and blocked as if it were Scotland against
England and although Arsenal often looked penetrative when Overmars found
support on their left, their opportunities were concentrated into the second
"I thought we competed okay in the first half," said Walter Smith, the Everton
manager, "but Arsenal's reaction pushed us back a bit." Indeed, Everton had
taken the lead on the back of some good pressure.
Gough had just directed a strong header into Seaman's arms, again from a
free kick outside the box, when Grimandi fouled Hutchison. When Collins arched
the ball beyond Seaman's dive, Arsenal were stunned. Everton have a poor
record at Highbury and if there was some merit in their advantage, Arsenal
were not yet seeing it. Two minutes after Collins's goal, Hutchison tried
an audacious volley, which was pushed out for a corner by Seaman.
Now Arsenal began to flex their muscles. They equalised and then the competition
for "Best Set-Piece" became stronger when Suker curled in another, Gerrard
tipping the ball over the bar.
Suker did not have to wait long for his goal, touching home a cross by Overmars
for number two, and meeting a Bergkamp centre to put Arsenal out of reach.
In between, the Croatian's marvellous touch had set up Bergkamp against Gerrard,
one-on-one. Credit to the Everton goalkeeper for winning that duel.
By the end, it was festival stuff. Ray Parlour might have scored, a mazy
run shaking off all challengers until it petered out in a poor finish. Gerrard
did his best to keep the scoreline in check, but nonetheless Kanu converted
the fourth, set up by Suker, and Everton felt relieved when it was all over.
Arsenal home guard argue their case for
by Nick Szczepanik, The Times
FOR the first half hour of this match, Arsenal, if not exactly awful, were
some way below their best perhaps with one eye on their European Cup
Champions' League match against Barcelona, at Wembley, tomorrow night. However,
once they realised that beating Everton would require their undivided attention,
they were awesome and a continuation of the form of those final 60 minutes
could be good news for their chances in the Champions' League and those of
England in the European championship playoff matches against Scotland.
The performances of the England-qualified outfield players, especially, were
encouraging. David Seaman was well-beaten when John Collins gave Everton
the lead after 16 minutes with a curling free-kick, a warning for Hampden
Park and Wembley, but the defenders in front of him gave the crowd an hour
of vintage Arsenal back-four play. Tony Adams and Martin Keown were dominant
in the centre, Lee Dixon was adventurous down the right, equalising five
minutes before the interval after another free kick, by Dennis Bergkamp,
had come back off the crossbar, and Nigel Winterburn was outstanding both
in defence and attack.
Winterburn himself played down any possibility of returning to the England
squad, but others were happy to talk up his chances of filling the problem
position of left back against Scotland. "He would have the spirit to do that,"
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said. "Of course, you don't play
at his age (35) at that level if you have only spirit. He's a very intelligent
defender, very aggressive-minded, and he's a winner."
Support for Winterburn also came from Richard Gough, the Everton central
defender, but he had his own agenda: if one veteran could make a comeback,
then why not another?
"I'm playing as consistently as at any time in my career," Gough said, "and
I've played against them [England] six or seven times, and that's an important
part of the CV for an England-Scotland game.''
Gough did play well, especially in the first half. Eventually, though, despite
his best efforts and those of his potential Scotland team-mates, Collins,
David Weir, Don Hutchison and Scot Gemmill, Everton were overrun.
Marc Overmars crossed for Davor Suker to score from six yards after 52 minutes,
and from a similar distance nine minutes later when Bergkamp played the ball
in from the left. The loudest cheers were for Patrick Vieira, who had begun
the move by arrogantly dispossessing Weir, and will be badly missed against
Chelsea next weekend, when he is suspended for one match, and thereafter
when the FA disciplinary committee rules on events a fortnight ago in the
match against West Ham United.
A fourth goal arrived in stoppage time, headed down by Suker for Kanu to
volley in, and Paul Gerrard made several outstanding saves to keep the score
Walter Smith, the Everton manager, feels that his team, only one place behind
Arsenal before the game, will have a more true picture of their chances this
season after the next half-dozen games, which include matches against Leeds
United, Chelsea and Manchester United, but recognised that Everton had lost
to a team competing at "a higher level" and in good shape for Wembley.
Suker, for one, agreed. "Many people in Spain thought that Barcelona would
not have a problem with Arsenal in the first game," he said. "Now they have
seen us and they know we are a good team. We are my favourites to win the
whole Champions' League."
Wenger preferred a more circumspect approach. "We know what kind of game
it will be; we will have to be at our best. At least from this game we will
take confidence that we can play well."
Times Newspapers Ltd