I hope like me you too are very happy to get that monkey off of our back in the shape of the Everton hoodoo. It had been on there far too long, had resulted in far too many crazy results and, up until we scored in the second half, was really starting to feel like an actual curse existed for us on Merseyside.
That’s because Everton are proper sh*te. I mean, they really are. I was watching on Sky Sports and Gary Neville said on a number of occasions that on the ball Everton were so ‘basic’. It looked like a team who had come to play football and control everything, versus a team whose tactics was straight out of the eighties. Long ball in possession, low block out of possession, try to be physical and ‘get stuck in to ’em’ style tactics that, ultimately, didn’t work.
Sure, it was only 1-0 to The Arsenal, but in reality we should have scored more and probably should have put this game to bed. Everton wanted to remain compact and feed off of scraps in attack and that’s pretty much all they got. They created a couple of chances, but it’s not as if the Arsenal ‘keeper had much to do. Which is why it was so interesting that Arteta decided to go with Raya yesterday. I’m not sure if it is because he thought he was going to need to go longer in distribution and whether Raya is better than that, or maybe he is just more composed when dealing with things dropped right under his nose, but the change was made and ultimately he did pretty well. His distribution was fine, he plucked a few crosses and corners out of the air without any problems, but other than that we kept him nice and quiet. That was because the work of our defence was pretty good and every time Pickford launched yet another ball long, our defenders dealt with it pretty comfortably.
In midfield Odegaard was finding pockets and so too was Fabio Vieira, who was given a start ahead of Havertz because of his good form he’s been in. And I thought Vieira did quite well. It was he who fed Martinelli in for his disallowed goal and had that been registered it would have been a fine assist for a player who was maligned by many last season. But Fabio Vieira has done well this season and Arteta certainly seems to be happy to use him more than others in the squad.
On the disallowed goal, it was a weird one and thankfully it didn’t impact the result for us, but the rules are weird like that. It was unlucky for Eddie that his trailing leg appeared to be a millimetre offside and at first it looked like a weird angle for VAR, but in the cold light of the next day you have to say that ultimately they have the technology there for this sort of stuff so it must have been right and whilst we benefitted from it at home to United the other week, this time it went against us. But the other weird interpretation of the rules was that it came off Beto from Gabriel and there was an interpretation that Beto didn’t try to play the ball. Which is weird because he clearly did try to get the ball and therefore was playing it. But I guess if I am going to be generous to the referees you’d say that he wasn’t in control of it. If he was in control and in possession of the ball and he passed it back for Eddie to intercept, then you’d probably say that’s fair game. But this was kind of a ricochet so perhaps that is where the rules become a little grey.
As I say, however, ultimately it didn’t matter because we managed to get that goal in the second half and what a fine finish it was too. First time, in off the post, lovely finish from Trossard and something that will do him the world of good because I didn’t think he had played that well up until that point. He’d come on for Martinelli and I really hope that the hamstring tweak that Arteta spoke about after the game isn’t serious. As good as it was for Trossard to get on and get some minutes, you look at that North London Derby game next Sunday and all fingers need to be crossed that he’s fit. Losing him for that one will be a big blow. So it’s a race against time that he is fit.
Let’s also hand out some kudos to Saka too for the assist. He didn’t exactly have the best of games yesterday and was regularly kicked by the Everton left back whose name I can’t pronounce. He was also doubled up on as McNeil often tucked in to support the defensive cover and it meant he was often crowded out. But even though his form hasn’t been at it’s scintillating best, even though we haven’t seen him truly kick in to gear yet, we are still getting end product from our Starboy and that in itself is good news.
The rest of the talking points feel pretty inconsequential if I’m completely honest, so I might leave it there for today. Sean Dyche trying to claim that Doucourre’s dive in the box was a penalty felt half-hearted and so to hear him talking about it as if he has never moaned about ‘soft’ fouls, etc from some of our players! Bloody hypocrite. But I guess that’s because he knows he’s under the kosh; his team don’t play great football, they’ve started the season pretty badly, they don’t look like they have any cutting edge and right now it looks like a side that is going down. And I’d have no problem with a Dyche team going down, that’s for sure.
Catch you wonderful humans tomorrow.