Arsenal 2-1 Everton: Best. Doggy Pile. Ever.

In a season that has served up intense game after intense game, we got another last night as our Arsenal boys powered home from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 at The Emirates.

That the victory came after such an appalling decision from the referees to allow Louis Saha’s goal — the striker was two metres offside at the time of the pass and most certainly active in the play — spoke volumes of the spirit and will to win that our team showed last night.

Van Persie lead from the front

The starting team included one change from what I consider to be our best current starting eleven with Tomas Rosicky getting another mid-week start for the injured Samir Nasri on the left. Despite the fresh nature of our team we failed to fashion any real chances early on, being made to work hard by a talented Everton team that got men behind the ball well.

But the game turned on its head when Saha scored. You’ve all seen the goal by now so I won’t go into it in great detail, but what I will repeat is that it was a terrible decision. Koscielny’s attempts to stop the pass were a direct result of Saha’s offside position and how the linesman and referee could decide otherwise is utterly inexcusable.

When Lee Mason went over to speak to his linesman I thought for all money the goal would be chalked off. But amazingly he pointed to the centre circle to indicate the goal would stand. My question is: what the hell did they say to each other?

The injustice of the goal was felt by the players and just as importantly, the crowd, who were immediately incensed and produced a wonderful atmosphere for the rest of the game. I never like to criticise the crowd for their apparent lack of atmosphere — having never seen a game live at Emirates Stadium I am in no place to make comment — but the supporters were brilliant tonight and no doubt inspired the team to some extent.

As for the players themselves, I thought their response was superb. Although rattled for a good five or ten minutes, we played our way back into back into rhythm despite the best efforts of an opponent who tried to spoil us at every opportunity. Johan Djourou almost scored from a header with our best chance of the half while Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott began to grow into the game, making life difficult for the Everton defence.

At 1-0 down at half-time and our players still obviously affected by the injustice of the goal, I was genuinely worried that we might fall apart in the second period. But it was exactly the opposite as we fought our way back into the game.

And when I say fought, I genuinely mean fought. We did not play our way back into the game with pretty football. We played our way back into the game with a fierce desire to win, a fierce desire to give as good as we got physically against an Everton team that gave plenty.

At this moment I have to give van Persie and Fabregas huge credit for an immense display of leadership on the night. Fabregas’ will to win is as strong as any player in the world right now but what I had almost forgotten and has become abundantly clear over the past few weeks is that van Persie shares it too. The pair were throwing themselves into tackles, harassing their opponents from the front and playing with the sort of passion that inspires teammates and excites the crowd.

Van Persie produced a moment of technical magic in the first half, back-heeling for his buddy Fabregas to flash wide, but it was his confrontation with Mikael Arteta that was more important. Incensed at the Spaniard’s willingness to stay down after minimal contact from the Dutchman, van Persie pulled Arteta off the turf in a move that positively pissed off the Everton player and fired up our team. It might not have seemed like much, but it is this sort of desire and urgency that can be the difference between the rest of the team giving up or fighting on when the game seems lost.

The manager made two game-changing substitutions just after the hour, hauling off an out-of-sorts Rosicky for Andrey Arshavin and replacing Jack Wilshere with Nicklas Bendtner.

Arshavin’s early touches on the ball were bright and he made the ultimate contribution to the team by stroking home the equaliser with twenty minutes to go. A calm, composed finish that served to remind every Arsenal supporter what a quality player he still is.

Then, just as against Ipswich a week ago, we followed up our opening goal with a quick-fire second. Just as against Ipswich it came from a corner. Just as against Ipswich it came from Koscielny.

The celebration that followed that goal said everything about the wonderful team spirit. After Koscielny’s passionate run and sliding starfish, virtually every member of the team got involved in what has to be the best doggy pile I’ve ever seen. Even Emmanuel Eboue sneaked in there, sprinting from the touchline to squeeze between Abou Diaby and Fabregas.

I thought we did well in the final 15 minutes to suffocate Everton and hold onto the lead. There was some gamesmanship and time-wasting that I genuinely enjoyed. A couple of players stayed down for extended periods, clearly under instruction from the coaching staff to stymie an potential Everton threat. It was great stuff considering what Everton had dished out earlier on and showed more signs that our team now possesses the experience and that little bit of mongrel that is required to win games like these.

To add to that theory was an amazing scene at full-time: the sight of Djourou, one of the calmest members in the Arsenal squad, still remonstrating with the referee over the disallowed goal. Was he asking him what the rules are or what could have done to prevent it? Or was he simply venting his fury at the decision? We’ll never know.

But what it did show is how desperately disappointed Djourou was to fail to achieve what would have been a fifth consecutive league clean sheet and how much he wants to prevent the same thing happening in the future. That is the sort of attitude that is required, the sort of perfectionism that pushes teams to become better and better and I found it to be a wonderful moment amongst the deserved celebrations.

On a day when both Manchester United and Chelsea produced strong victories we needed to do the same against Everton. To achieve it in such spectacular, up-lifting fashion after conceding a blatantly unfair goal was just brilliant.

Well done Arsenal. Well done.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Everton by leaving a comment.



  1. Arshavin, welcome back! Koscielny, thank you for that superb header! Great effort from our team, but what impressed me the most was the desire to win, the hunger for a victory, and I could see that the most in Van Persie’s attitude. I could complain about some issues, like Rosicky’s lack of form, but right now I really don’t care. I’m just so happy we won, I’m happy we’re keeping close to Man Utd. Keep up with that fighting spirit and let’s grab another three points in the next match!

  2. Great post, AW. I had bad feeling before this match, as if it was just one game to many for an overworked squad. Not so much physically, but certainly mentally. Even from a fan’s point of view, it is a ridiculous amount of games to play in a short space of time and not good for the heart rate. The first half confirmed my suspicions; Arsenal were very flat and took a very long time to get going. How Everton’s goal can ever be interpreted as onside is a mystery to me. I’ve been told that Koscielney’s deflection was deemed a back-pass and therefore Saha was onside. Surely though, Saha was miles offside when the initial pass was played?

    Fortunately this proved academic and instead of this being ‘one of those nights’, where a sense of injustice may have previously overcome a young, fragile squad, the team stepped up to the plate and scraped a victory. It cannot be underestimated how difficult it is to win a Premier League match, from being a goal behind; only top-drawer sides are capable and it is what Manchester United have been doing for 15 years. It is a good sign that the squad can grind out victories, especially when the games come thick and fast, as it is impossible to perform at the level we’ve seen in games against Chelsea, Man City, West Ham and Birmingham. Well done to the squad.

    Let’s hope there are no more injuries and we can take advantage of a Carroll-less Newcastle on Saturday…

  3. Wonderful match report, as usual. I’m so happy that the boys fought back to win so that the focus of your report doesn’t have to be about the absurdity that was Everton’s “goal.” I cleverly used a combination of my eyes and common sense to determine that Saha was clearly offside when Coleman played the ball to him, so the next time any guy claims that women don’t understand the offside rule, I’ll be sure to link him to a video of that ridiculous call. I can’t possibly comprehend how someone whose job it is to understand these things could have gotten that so wrong. Really, the officiating of the entire match was, for lack of a better word, crap. I agree with you about the wonderful leadership and spirit of RVP and Fabregas, although they are never the players that worry me in that department. It’s players like Denilson, Arshavin, and Diaby who I sometimes question the effort and spirit of. That said, I thought Arshavin was wonderful last night, and I’m glad he is finally starting to look like the player we know he can be. The positive result after a less than positive start will be a good boost for the team, and I’m hoping this winning momentum will continue…indefinitely!

  4. Firstly what a team, and what a performance. This team are really growing in stature game by game and are starting to look like the “world beaters” AW has been telling us about for so long. They just need to believe in themselves, and the sky is the limit. Acctually that new galaxy theve found 300 billion lightyears away will be the limit….
    I dont want to get into the refereing, or lack thereof, as it has been pretty much covered above, and even a blind man could see how blatanly they were cheating last night. What i would like to discuss briefly is the match commentators.
    How is it that after Everton scored the commentators suddenly forget the rules of football and start going on about how there a grey area and no-one really knows the rules which leaves them open to interpretation by the officials. If the same goal had been scored against Manure the commentators would be asking how the linesman could have possibly got that wrong as the forward is obviously offside when the ball is played. but that would just be hyperthetical as we all know it would never happen to united.
    My question is this: Why does the whole of the british footballing world, i.e. refs, commentators, FA etc all hate our club??? esspecialy when Eufa are saying that we are the “model” club to follow!!! i mean WTF!!!!!!
    Oh to be a gooner.

  5. Secondly i could not believe how much Caroll went for I mean 35mill? This is a player with no Champions League experience, less than a years worth of Premier league experience and one England cap to his name.

    If Carroll is worth that, then how much is Nicklas Bendtner, a player slated all the time, worth?

    In my opinion the football world has gone ab-so-lutely ga ga. Lady Gaga has nothing on the money spent by these clubs.

    Of course Andy Carroll is full of potential, potential being the key word here, and the fee Liverpool paid for him is not his problem. But while the the transfer fee itself makes me dizzy, the fact that Carroll put in a transfer request pisses me off.

    If someone like Andy Carroll puts in a transfer request then what hope is there for loyalty in the game?

    Carroll is a player who support(s)ed Newcastle United and apparently dreamed of wearing the number 9 shirt with the club. He achieved that. He also signed a five-year-deal with the Toon in November and wanted to stay with the club forever.

    Andy would have had the world at his feet whenever he stepped out into the city of Newcastle and would have been treated like a God. They love a local lad up there, especially one wearing the number 9 shirt.

    So why hand in a transfer request?

    Carroll is now saying that he was forced out of Newcastle. I’m sorry but I don’t buy that. Nobody ‘forced’ him to request a transfer. He could have just said I don’t want to leave and that is that.

    If I played for Arsenal and was as loved by Gooners as much as Carroll was by Geordie’s I would never leave the club. I wouldn’t dream of it.

    In fact, not even a loaded gun pointed to my head and the threat of being forced to watch Harry Redknapp interviews all day would force me.

    Here we have a player who has fulfilled every Newcastle United supporting fans dreams and now let them down. Could you do to Gooners what he has done to the Toon Army?

    There is not a lot of loyalty left in the game today. Every player is motivated by money and I think that the days of one-club-players have gone and won’t be back.

    And that is a sad situation.

  6. Great report! Tell me though, am I the only one who thought Djourou had separated his shoulder when we went down so hard on it? He and we were lucky on that non-injury, and we have to do it again and again. Thought RvP showed more salt than I have ever seen from him. Always had the skill, but what a revelation to see all that fire! AA continues his redemption. Kosc outstanding in every way: the winner was poetic justice for the terrible call, although the header did take skill.
    The linesman must have been asleep, should have thrown the flag up the instant the ball was played. Who listens to commentators anyway?
    O 2 b a Gooner!

  7. theusualsuspect – I’m not sure which commentators you are referring to since it depends on the channel you were watching, but if you are talking about the ones on Fox Soccer Channel, I completely agree with you. I generally try to avoid watching FSC unless it’s the only match stream available because they have such an obvious bias against Arsenal. If the team is performing poorly, the commentators criticize them to no end. If Arsenal is playing well, they talk about how the other team is doing well despite Arsenal’s dominance or how they are “unlucky” not to get a result against us. I guess now it’s to the point where they will even “forget” the rules of the game just to avoid saying anything that favors Arsenal….either that or they don’t actually know the rules.

  8. Atleast we arter starting to win ugly. But what happened to Rosicky. His form is deplorable. Without our first eleven we could nt have won the game neither draw. What a pass from Cesc to Arsh for the goal. I cant praise Kosecienly enough. He may have to compete with Vermaleen for a spot in our team.

  9. “Well done Arsenal, well done. Touche.

    Even after that dodgy goal was allowed, I was confident it was a match we would win. Because Everton’s tactic was obvious- delay, stop Arsenal from playing…I knew they could not keep that up for 90 minutes.

  10. Is Djorou injured, didn’t catch the game? Hope not, he’s been fresh and positive whenever given the chance, hats off to him hope he improves even further.

  11. What a great post. RVP was excellent in term of spirit last night. I think you forget when RVP pushed his national teammate Heitinga. I can see that he loves Arsenal so much and he did not care about the other team he play when he’s wearing Arsenal’s shirt. The other players as well. They shows a great determination to win.

    Arshavin also showed what he can actually do. I love to see him scored and there’s a time when an Everton player (i don’t remember who) was free to shot. He quickly ran to the area an trying to block it. A great spirit means he’s not lazy as some people said. 😀

  12. Biggest win of the season, keeps us in it….well done Arshavin, hope he kicks on now and his confidence returns.

  13. Hahahaha i cant believe this shambo and gunnerboss would have been just waiting to write something at the 70th minute mark hahaha, infact i think they would written something in the likes as if i am right you people were wrong, but then 75mins comes press ctrl A delete the message close the window and get a good nights sleep..

  14. Thanks for all the efforts from guys we don’t need to relax I know what is lying infront of Man.u in terms of which teams to play. Although the game costed us Belong Song I don’t know how long he will be out. I hope it does’t take long.
    Thanks once more guys. The Carling Cup is already in our granary

  15. tony gale the ex west ham,fulham?is a well known arsenal hater-even if arsenal are murdering the other team it sticks in his throat to praise us & looks for an excuse as to why we’re able to dominate them-can’t stand him…

  16. I am glad – now – that Mason and his officials got it so wrong for Saha’s offside goal. It galvanised everybody! For the first time at the Emirates, the team, manager, subs, and crucially, supporters were unified in passionate accord. We were not going to let this happen, cheated yet again. Pivotal game of the season? Damn right it is. The last piece of the jigsaw fell into place last night. This team has found the will to win. Ooooh to be a Gooner.

  17. I have been around some of the Arsenal blogosphere this morning, and how I wish this match was shown over here. Instead I had to sit through watching Wayne Rooney return to form against Aston Villa while checking live updates of Arsenal. Not fun.

    Each and every Gooner should be filled with absolute pride today. The toughness, resilience and composure that are now accompanying our style, fluidity and skill are the combination that makes for the stuff of CHAMPIONS. THIS is what great teams do. They rise to the occasion with whatever mix works and adjust to the game as required on the pitch.

    Our biggest challenge seems to be the fact that we are still in all four competitions. A great problem to have but still a real problem. Each match in this crushing month of fixtures brings renewed anxiety of over-exposure to exhaustion and injury. We still have Barca to face as well as the bullies from Birmingham at month’s end. B52 has spoken of it:
    Bendtner said: “February looks like being the decisive month I would say. Two cups will be decided, and the Premier League table will take shape.”
    Read more:

    Wow – what a ride. I hope my nerves and our health hold out. COME ON ARSENAL.

  18. well done walcott, full of AIMLESS running and making the Everton’s full back so busy all night long. Luckily the first goal was arshavin rather than walcott was at the receiving end.. as we know how little composure walcott has got….

  19. @Aman,
    So now your a mind reader….congrats…what a fool you are to write something like that, your just exposing yourself as an ass really, you think I want Arsenal to fail??? Get a grip man.

  20. @Dutchman,
    Injuries are inevitable, just Like Arsene Wenger failing to bring in cover in the transfer window. I would be dissapointed if I wasnt so used to the scenario.

  21. Fantastic performance. I’m a big fan of Cesc, Rosicky, Van Persie, etc. giving Lee Mason piece of their minds when they put in absolutely incompetent displays. This Arsenal team took the injustice and made it into a great performance. Koscielny and Clichy were monsters both at the back and going forward. And Arshavin is finding his way into form through hard work. Great stuff all around.

    Ok, and let this be the final comment on that Saha goal. From a lot of the comments so far it seems that people are in some way trying to justify the referees’ call. I mean, there has to be something to it, right?!? As a referee, I can safely say that there is no reason in the world to come to the conclusion that it’s a legitimate goal, no matter what your interpretation is. When the ball is played to Saha, he’s in an offside position. Apparently the assistant ref said he interpreted Koscielny’s clearance as a pass. He’s covering his own ass. I’m just glad it didn’t matter, and if anything it helped the Arsenal players get fired up.

  22. @shambogunner you know what, your exactly how i predicted you to be, i never mentioned anything about you wanting arsenal to fail, but i was 500% sure you would have mentioned that we lost because we dint buy in the Jan transfer window, and your next statement to the Dutchman exactly tells the same thing. So whose the idiot?

  23. Tremendous second half performance by the squad. Your point about Everton is especially appreciated. Not only was this an impressive win, but it was also an impressive win against an Everton side that has drawn with United, drawn with Chelsea (twice), beat City, and beat Spurs. It’s fantastic that Chelsea , City, and United still have to cannibalize each other again before the season is out, but they EACH have to play Everton once more. If we are in search of bellwether’s or hints of who will win the League this campaign, then the team that has done the best against Everton may end up being that indicator, and that team is Arsenal (beaten Everton twice, and 2-1 both times)!

  24. @darragh, re tuesday1stfeb, your correct what you say, its just a shame that most fans wont admit what shambo says is also what has been happening. Part of a being a fan of football is also about being objective. As a hammer who is a mad supporter of our prem game, i believe that it would make a great deal of difference if Arsene was to go for a little more bulk when picking a squad that he expects to finish top of the pile. My son is now playing for the u15 at your academy and i constantly get to see those type of players rejected because they dont look smooth and silky enough. They are the kind of players that would prevent the team from being bullied near the business end of the season. Also, i dont think Arsene needs to spend the kind of money liverpool and chelsea have been spending to win the prem, just bring one or two solid players who find the competitive stuff natural to their style of game. The team is still lacking in balance.
    By the way, pls dont answer this comment by telling me anything shit about my team! lets just have an educated chat.

  25. mmh…interesting stuff. i think this season is a turning point for arsenal; a good turning point.

  26. @all, lets be big enough to admit we were wrong at the end of the season, if it lasts that long that is. Based on the past 5-6 years that is……….Like a pack of cards…..or dominoes…….joke!

  27. It’s good to see Arshavin return! What I like today about Arsenal is that our bench is becoming as good as the first team. That brings more confidence on every change that is done. I’m really proud of them! Finally, Koscielny, is becoming very quickly something very special in the back and front. super great job!

  28. Andrew
    I have recently moved from Ireland to New York and was wondering if there is a base anywhere in the city that Arsenal supporters meet up for the games. I would be grateful if you or any of the other readers could fill me in. I was watching the game last night and couldnt belief the atmosphere less hope this continues for the rest of the season and we can turn the emirates into a fortress.
    ooh to be a gooner

  29. @Martin : Re New York.

    When I lived in New York, Nevada Smiths was the best place to watch football. Has loads of tv playing loads of matches and an awesome atmosphere. It’s near Union Square subway in Manhattan

  30. Anyone else notice what Fellaini is doing on the Koscielny goal? He’s fouling Diaby in the box, rather than trying to get to the flight of the ball first…
    This guy had impressed me last year when he took the ball off Fab.. Didn’t get a chance to watch the game last night, but if indeed his game has become dirty as some claimed about last night, then it’s really sad…

  31. Cheers Darragh i will have to check it out might make it there for Barcelona game hopefully

  32. @Martin
    Welcome to the USA 🙂 I heard that there were quite few places where you can watch some games in NYC. I got this list from the Arsenal website: I did read somewhere that the Blind Big is one of the places where many Gooners meet up. If you drop by Philadelphia, we also have some great Irish pubs that have football on their TVs. I hope that helped! Let me know if you have any other question! I would be glad to help out! Cheers 😉

  33. @Martin: angie is right: blind pig bar at 233 east 14th street is the main place for Gooners in NYC.

  34. good win….well deserved. Very concerned that we never went to the transfer market. I hope it does not cost us in the end.

  35. Now we know we are no longer the kids, Now we know we are a championship side; What a Great spirit. I love Arsenal.

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