Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw against a resilient Everton at the Emirates this evening.
We didn’t see the first half but here are the highlights from the Arseblog live blog.
8 – Mertesacker intercepts, the ball eventually comes to Gibson who crosses low, Szczesny handles well
18 – We lose the ball again. Every time we have the ball in their half, our players are isolated and surrounded by 2 or 3 blue shirts.
27 – Everton are looking much fresher… they break down the right but Cazorla clears the cross.
33 – Sagna with a terrific header… Walcott gets the ball, Gibson takes him down cynically. That was a second yellow. The ref has bottled it. Why? Because the ref is an utter cunt.
41 – CHANCE! Ramsey breaks down the right, curls a ball in behind the defence, and Giroud stabs it over.
We didn’t miss too much, it seems. In the second half Cazorla tested Howard with a well struck left footed shot, before Anichebe got on the end of a Baines free kick but glanced his header wide.
Poor play from Kieran Gibbs saw Everton get down their right hand side, and after a slip in the box Arsenal conceded a free kick just outside the D. Leighton Baines stepped up but hit the wall, and Arsenal broke immediately up field. Aaron Ramsey played Theo Walcott in behind but the England man’s touch was poor and his cross for Giroud fell short.
Gibbs then got in behind the Everton defence but with nobody attacking the near post his cross was cleared for a corner, which Everton dealt with. The game moved into the final half hour with both teams probing for the goal, and Everton’s Ross Barkley curled a shot just outside the top corner in the 66th minute.
A good ball from Ramsey to Cazorla should have spelt danger for the visitors but the Spaniard’s touch was off and Everton managed to clear. Arsene Wenger made changes, bringing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the ineffectual Jack Wishere while Lukas Podolski replaced Theo Walcott in the 69th minute.
Arsenal found it hard to break down a stubborn Everton team, with Gibbs and Sagna seeing crosses blocked. Arsenal won a corner which Giroud headed back across goal forcing Jagielka into a clearing header, and from the following corner Tim Howard did enough to prevent a Ramsey backheel going back across goal.
Podolski tried to barge his way through in the 75th minute as Arsenal began to pile the pressure on, forcing Everton deep, before a brilliant Arsenal break saw Cazorla play in Oxlade-Chamberlain. With Giroud waiting in the middle the England man squared it across goal only for Seamus Coleman to get back and deny the Frenchman a tap-in from inside the 6 yard box.
Oxlade-Chamberlain tried again, feeding Giroud inside the box, but after shifting the ball onto his weaker right foot he fired over from close range but also a tight angle. He’ll feel he should have done better though. Coleman again denied Arsenal, working hard to cut out a Podolski cross, before Arsenal claimed handball against the Irishman as he blocked a Podolski shot in his own box.
The referee then ignored a clear foul on Oxlade-Chamberlain which presented Mirrales with a chance but Arteta got back to block, and the Spaniard had a chance in the final minute as he got free in the box but caught in two minds Everton got it clear.
Nacho Monreal came on for Gibbs as 4 minutes of stoppage time were announced with Everton heading away a dangerous Cazorla free kick. Victor Anichebe then smashed a shot from 25 yards well over the bar before Monreal picked up a yellow card snuffing out an Everton break. From the resulting free kick Mertesacker was strong at the back, heading away as Everton threatened.
But in the end, it remained scoreless, it’s not a bad point from what was always going to be a tricky fixture, and we go into the weekend’s game against Fulham having extended our gap in third place.