Everton 1-2 Arsenal: Patient, classy and gritty

On Friday I remarked that this could be a weekend of opportunity and it proved to be true as Manchester United dropped points, Chelsea were thumped by Sunderland and — crucially — our boys beat Everton at Goodison Park.

So often we have failed to capitalise on the mistakes of the other big sides around us but Sunday couldn’t have been further from the truth. We were patient, classy and gritty and fully deserved the three points.

Despite a Tim Cahill header that sailed wide with the game still scoreless Everton did not seriously test Lukasz Fabianski before we were two goals to the good. Sebastien Squillaci and especially Johan Djourou were excellent at the back and had it not been for Marouane Chamakh’s terrible miss on the hour mark we would have gone three-up.

Djourou was dominant in the air

Before then came two moments of quality in a game-winning blitz either side of half-time.

Bacary Sagna slashed home a great shot after Andrey Arshavin pounced on Samir Nasri’s initial effort. It was just Sagna’s second goal since joining Arsenal — the other coming in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea that ended our title challenge three seasons ago — and didn’t he enjoy it! One wonders whether he had a cheeky dig at Gael Clichy after the game.

After a patchy first-half performance Jack Wilshere was substituted for Denilson as the manager tried to add some stability in the middle of the park. After the game Arsene Wenger commented that the Brazilian had been brought on “to win the second ball from headers”, a remarkable thing considering the article I wrote on our lack of aerial intelligence last week.

Denilson’s arrival made an impact early on, but not in the way that Wenger envisaged. The Brazilian dashed forward to release Cesc Fabregas, the Spaniard exchanged clever passes with Chamakh and fired home a superb low finish. At 2-0, even away from home against a team as good as Everton, the game looked won.

Everton predictably rallied but our team weathered the storm well. Fabianski was once again excellent when called upon while Djourou won everything in the air. Denilson’s presence gave Alex Song extra security in the midfield and in general we looked solid all over the park.

Given the excellent performance of our defensive unit it was a shame to concede late on. I thought Howard Webb’s role in the goal was crucial: he allowed Everton’s corner to be taken far too quickly after remonstrating with Sagna as the home side took advantage of the space afforded to them on the left. Predictably it was Tim Cahill who got the goal but in my mind, Webb should have ordered the corner to be retaken.

In the end the score finished 2-1 and an excellent three points were secured.

As we all know now Chelsea’s incredible defeat to Sunderland means we are just two points off the top, a week after defeat to Newcastle left us seriously doubting our title credentials. The latest news that Chelsea will be missing John Terry for “months” coupled with another mediocre Manchester United performance shouts a message loud and clear: the Premier League title is up for grabs this season.

I’ve said before that tighter, hard-working victories are often more rewarding than comprehensive thrashings and I suspect our boys will be extremely pleased after navigating two difficult away fixtures. Wolves gave us a hell of a good game on Wednesday afternoon and although Everton were a little below-par for their standards, they showed enough to suggest that they will nick some points off the other big boys at Goodison this season.

Next up is the North London Derby. A win their against the darlings of the English media, the conquerors of Inter Milan, regardless of other results, will send out a huge message to the rest of the league. I’m already excited.


Just a quick message today to add that due to me starting a new job in Berlin, I’m going to decrease the amount of posts on AFCB for the time being. For me quality always comes before quantity and for that reason, for the moment, I’m going to drop back to two or three detailed posts a week (match reports and features) and handle more of the news-style posts on Facebook and Twitter.

I have to say that in my bid to improve the AFCB by adding new writers and perspectives, my own personal relationship with the readers has fallen away a little bit. I used to reply to virtually every comment directed to me and was far more active on Facebook and Twitter. I hope that by making this slight change my own quality of writing on the AFCB will improve and I can get far more involved in the community once again. I hope everybody understands.

Oh, and to everybody who wished me a happy 25th birthday yesterday, thanks! I really appreciate it.


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



  1. everton is always an easy game for us, lets wait now for tettenham game to teach them an unforgetable lesson

  2. Song also was immense as he provided constant cover for the back 4. Specially in the last 15 minutes, he was often at the right place when the team was on the back foot.
    As for Chelsea, what most suspected at the start of the season (the fact that they don’t have quality on the bench) seems to be materializing. There is news that Terry will be out for few months. They are also missing a couple of important players. If their injury situation doesn’t improve, it appears that they won’t be able to mount a serious title challenge.
    Perhaps our greater threat for the title will come from the old foe in Man Utd.

  3. Congratulation for the gunner. They have been lucky since Everton started late retaliation. Command to Fabianski for saving few dangerous shot. We still need to toughen our defense and our attacking side. Arsenal always become complacent when they are leading. I still feel that Denilson can contribute more than Jack Wilsehere. He should be given as starter first. Overall results is good.Congratulation again to the team.

  4. Be interesting to see whether Wenger picks Wilshire or Denilson against the spuds. Personally I would go with Denilson. I can see Wilshire getting wound up and red carded in a north london derby. Denilson would be a lot calmer. Either way I can’t wait. Lunchtime kick off on Saturday means it’s at a half reasonable time to watch down under. Can’t wait!

  5. What a difference a week makes! This time last week doom and gloom 😉 This is gonna be a long hard season, However if we can continue in the same vein we have shown the last 2 games then we are gonna have a wonderful season. I have to take my hat off to Fabianski he has done so well and he has showed that on his day hes as good a shot-stopper as anyone out there. I believe that only cech has a better shot to save %!! the two centre-halves seem to be forming a good partnership. Look at Fabianski and Djourou are playing. You can see how much the regular football is improving them both. Something we have missed over the past few yrs is serious competition for places!! It must be a good headache for AW to keep a big squad happy. we have been rinsed in recent seasons regarding injuries. AW has never had a situation where hes had three fully fit central strikers. With van Persie, Chamakh and Bendtner all fit it gives him a bit of a problem, a good problem I will add!!!! And it makes be PROUD to be a gooner and I really think if we stay fit and grounded this finally could be our YEAR!!!! 😉

  6. Wenger pls pick gud attackin option 2 bank more goals rather than misin d bex posible goal scorin opportunities created.

  7. A fine game and an excellent result for the Gunners. I was particularly impressed with the defensive shape and Djourou’s influence in particular. However it’s no co-incidence that good results come when the injury list is low and there’s competition for places. Once the Verminator and Gibbs are back, we’ll be at full strength and capable of matching any team in Europe.
    A mate of mine is a big time Chelsea supporter and he’s worried about the centre back depth at that club after Carvalho’s move to Real. Good. it’s about time Chelsea had some injury worries like Arsenal has had to put up with for the last few seasons.

  8. Hopefully that goal for Sagna will have him brimming with confidence ready to face the in-form annoyance that is, Gareth Bale.

  9. Happy belated birthday Mr. Webber, I think we did very well on Sunday but am still a bit worried about our staying power in terms of holding a lead. I shiver at the thought of what might have happened had Cahill scored that early header. Man U this season are a pathetic bunch but am very much impressed by their never die attitude. If we can adopt that attitude, I have no doubt in my heart we can clinch the title this season. Big up to the combination of Nasri and Fàbregas.

  10. Alrighty, time to eat some delicious comments.

    @ IndianGunner, Blackbox, pradyumna – Thanks for the birthday comments. Most appreciated.

    @ Steve-O – Djourou was impressive and I’m not just saying that because I have a man crush on him. He was so good in the air.

    @ Terry – That is an interesting question. I’d probably go for Wilshere, his energy is infectious. It may depend on whether Wenger believes Crouch will play, if he does then maybe Denilson to win the second ball from the headers. If not I’d try and match them for energy. We’re a better team than they are and if it is an attacking game I think we will win.

  11. I am glad to say congratulation to th Gunners for the first time, so let’s keep the arrow pointing up guys, i tell you this season will be the best for us.

  12. I was exteremly impressed with our Guns in this game. if they keep this form. they will taste glory. but they have been better on the road than at home this season. so I hope they will keep the pace up, and beat our rivals on our home turf. Rottenhams have been on good form. so we need our boys to be men and get the job done. and lets keep our fingers crossed from the international break. lets pray and hope all come back in good shape. Go Gunners

  13. First and foremost. Happy belated birthday Andy. dint realise ur that young, you write like a seasoned old writer (compliment)…keep up the good work, and all the best in your new assignment. sunday was amazing, though i thought the team looked kinda tired…thats the problem with midweek games, but if we can keep winning games like this even with evident lethargy then i think this should be a good season for us. wee should have that never say die attitude.

  14. Happy belated Andy, I must say I’m a little worried about the upcoming interlull seeing how we’re in fine form. That being said, I hope the fact that its sp*rs shroud provide enough focus to get through the lull.

  15. Great stuff and I love your front page pic of Denilson getting stuck into a no-nonsense tackle. The ever fickle media have now decided that our squad has grown some balls. But let’s not forget it wasn’t that long ago we were meekly letting West Brom rape us at home. One swallow does not a summer make etc. We were hanging on rather shockingly for the last 10 minutes at Everton instead of getting hold of the ball and keeping it as we know our team can.
    An emphatic victory over Spuds will help to convince though – and by emphatic I don’t mean a big score, I mean controlling the game. Spuds n us have both got dodgy defences but I believe ours is improving whereas there’s seems to begetting worse so there could be goals!!
    The Bale-Crouch-Modric combination is a real problem and something hopefully we’ll have a plan for.
    I’m looking forward to RVP getting back into the team because he’s long been our most aggressive player and he should thrive on this new ‘tough’ Arsenal style. I’d say- ‘Chamakh, well done, mate. You’ve been absolutely brilliant. You’ll be back. But for now take a break and let the maestro show you how it’s done.’ Then Ka-boom! RVP blasts both ball and Gomes through the back of the Spuds net. 😛 Whooooo!!

  16. LOL after chamakh playing so damn well, you expect him to sit out of a derby game which is this intense no way.. according to wenger wallcott and rvp arent ready so they might get some game time, but its very simple if spuds try to come and outplay us they are done for, and crouch i think is the worst player in the entire EPL, absolutely useless, however the only trouble i find is coming from VDV and Bale, if Sagna and dennilson/song can do that job its our game easily.

  17. Right on Sat I want to see no mercy for The Spuds. Put them in their place, I’m sick of bale this, Van Der Vaart that. We need to humilate them, destroy them. Nothing less than a convincing win, push them back down to half way. We have The Villa away and The Mancs away soon butwe need to improve our home form. Mash The Spuds so that we don’t hear from them for at least another year.

  18. @ jesse gooner, jabulani – Thanks for the birthday wishes. I will take your comment as a compliment jesse, although I hope you haven’t lost any respect for me 😉

    @ Hey Nonny – I thought the photo of Denilson was great. Totally summed up the headline I was going for. Not sure about the thoughts on benching Chamakh – at the moment he is our number one forward and I wouldn’t be playing van Persie until he makes a mark from the bench.

  19. Andrew Weber November 17, 2010 at 11:45 am – agreed with you – dont c why RVP should start ahead of the chmak attack – needs to rpove his worth to the first team…ps – i heard the bartender is off to bayern – for £10million he can sod off

  20. This is a team / squad / group of maturing young men that is coming together (maybe I should rephrase that). The skill and technical ability were always there. The defensive teamwork, especially, is improving. Right now the work ethic and a new-found unity of collective defending plus the effort has suppressed some of the quality. Only some of the quality mind. The quality is there in fits and starts right now – but its not quite the free-flowing silky Arsenal we know and love because it’s got tougher, more gritty, has more bite and players generally are more liable to take one for the team, so to speak.

    If anything we’re winning ugly because the mean streak has arrived with the physical strength of slightly older players strutting their stuff with a growing confidence backed by more muscle. They can hold their own and they can do battle on equal terms but also knowing that they usually have more class in reserve than any opponent. Wenger’s incredible patience is beginning to pay off. The will to win may still be somewhat intermittent and the ability to carve up negative sides still too erratic, but we’re getting there.

    The space we find away from home exceeds that which we find at our gaff and this is a problem that as yet has not been resolved but the signs are good. Our season is beginning to offer some real hope. We are not yet consistent enough to maintain a serious challenge but I do believe that we’re getting a whole lot closer to doing so. Any team that strings a run of five or six winning games together now could quite easily go clear of the pack this season. And it could be us. I’m not saying it will be, but grinding it out is the way to go, the way to build momentum.

    Chelsea clearly do not have a deep squad, United do not have a very deep squad, City have yet to show themselves to be a serious threat, Tottenham have yet to learn how to cope with two serious competitions at the same time. We’ve not shone yet but are just as capable of doing so as the rest, as soon as our lads realise this they could fly.

    What’s important next is that the belief will come with results and should we hit the top spot there will be a new collective willpower that has grown over a long period of time. How we cope with the top slot, should we reach it, is the next challenge and I think they’ll be fine. With a fit squad, and we’re getting there, the competition for places will intensify. It is starting to do so now, I don’t see a stronger bench in the Premiership, do you? Rosicky, Walcott and van Persie on the bench with Vela and Bendtner not even in the squad. As an attacking force I don’t see a stronger group around.

    The adage that we’ll not win anything with kids belies the patience shown by Wenger. The kids are growing but the production line is still in place, the conveyor belt of Brady, Bould and Banfield are still providing the goods – what was once Gibbs and Wilshere will soon be Emmanuel-Thomas and Lansbury. I’m optimistic.

    Had the Chavs won this weekend and we’d lost the gap would have been eight points. They didn’t win, we did. Keep the mouth shut and let the actions speak louder than the words. We have a team that has almost come of age. The next step is the hardest. The next step requires the belief of the fans as well as the team. They almost believe and it’s down to us to provide that belief.

    Get in there.

  21. Lassana Diarra must be cursing himself for the quick departure from Arsenal. Before Mourinho arrived Madrid he was not playing regularly and he has seen less games in a club that now does not rate him at all. Now, some EPL teams are preparing to bring him back to England in the January transfer window. I believe there is a lesson here for impatient players, and Bendtner comes to mind, as they may never be able to fullfil their potentials. Players should be careful in deciding where their future lies and most importantly, they should come to terms with the fact that not every good player must pass through the best clubs in the world. Also, legendary status can be achieved only where they made the best impact over a long period of useful time else, they may end up a nobody.

  22. @ amar – For 10 million the “bartender” should sod off? Why? Because he made a perfectly reasonable comment about wanting to play more? He’s not “off to Bayern”, Franz Beckenbauer merely stated that Bayern Munich are interested in him. How is this his fault exactly?

    Wenger has already stated that he did not mind hearing the comments from Bendtner about wanting to play more, what else needs to be said? I’ve always admired Bendtner’s confidence and he’s not just going to leave because he has to fight for his place.

  23. @ Ernie – “Wenger’s incredible patience is beginning to pay off.”

    What an incredible line. Great comment too, one of the best I’ve read in a while.

  24. Looking forward to the spurs games,lets not get carried away though it wont be easy……what would be wrong with playing Chamakh and RvP together?????
    I think theyd be lethal

  25. Agree with shambo….play RvP on the left of the front 3 (in place of the woeful Arshavin) with Chamakh in the center & Nasri/Walcott on the right. Very lethal indeed.
    How about a 4-1-3-2 with RvP & Chamakh upfront (at the expense of one of the holding midfielders)? This might be a bit risky since neither Song nor Wilshere are capable of doing the holding job alone.

  26. We have reached a point where Arsenal can not surrender this premier to any team,it has been long enough without winning a trophy.We have a young team,energetic,desire to win,so 2010-2011 is OURS.

  27. – I meant Bale-Crouch- Van Der Fart, not Modric. Thinking Van Der Fart, wrote Modric. Tch.

    Crouch is nobody’s favourite player but he does have an effect (see England V France) and he’s so frickin tall he gets those knock-downs. Not our strong suit as Mr Webber has pointed out. This is going to cause us trouble.
    RVP played for Holland so he can play for us. Have y’all forgotten how good this guy is? At his best he’s a one-man army. A wrecking ball. And he knows what’s needed in an Arsenal /Spurs derby. Yep, I’d definitely start with RVP and have Bendtner on the bench (if he’s fit). Chamakh can take a well-earned break.
    Re: Bendtner by the way. I cannot understand why some supporters don’t like him. I love him – and he’s scored some vital vital goals over the seasons.

  28. Any fan who seems to see Bendtner tell him that in 2007 arsenal had Flamini,Hleb and even Henry, they were playing excellent football.where are they now?So be careful u will end up in a trash.

  29. Rooney would have been zero help against the midfield domination of the first half and i suspect we wouldn’t have fared any better in the second half if the game wasnt a friendly and the french hadnt slacked off for the last 30 minutes.

    We were outclassed and have been time & time again but we’ll continue to blame Capello/formations/not selecting certain players which ultimately distracts everyone from the fact that english football stinks from the grass roots up.

  30. @gooner1982 – that’s absolute load of tosh – it’s just comments taken from different parts and seembled to try and make a story – dont get me wrong – i wouldnt shed any tears if the ‘Bartender’ left – yes he has scored importnat goals for us – but he is not arsenal quality – plus we have strikers we can use – so if its tru then great/

  31. I see this Bendtner situation as a positive. We have players who are full of self belief and determination and who want to play football as they have self belief and can see what is happening at Arsenal and the chances that fate seem to be providing the gunners. Is it so bad to want to play footballer as a footballer? Surely we do not want a squad like Man City who for all but a few seem happy to sit back and collect their obscene wages. Like Bendtner or not I personally cannot fault his ambition, for me the answer is simple, play the players you have employed or get rid. Why do we still have players like Vela on the books when he appears to be continuously pushed down the pecking order, why have Bendter at all if he is not going to play? I think a player like Bendtner should be applauded for showing his true passion and want to succeed rather than vilifying him for daring to answer a question that was put to him.

  32. @amar – Yes exactly, you will never see Eboue or Denilson, or Diaby claiming they want a first team place. That would require effort, why strive for a starting place when you can sit on the bench, contribute nothing and pick up wages that no one else would pay. Too many of our underperforming mercenaries prefer the easy life.

  33. @ amar – You can’t just play the players you have employed because football is a squad game. If we got rid of them and then injuries surfaced — which they always do — Wenger would be crucified for having too thin a squad.

    Players will play, but often it relies on injuries and opportunities to open up. Just look at Djourou: who would have predicted him to play so much after a whole year out injured? But Vermaelen went down and now he is taking his opportunity. Bendtner will get his too.

    Football is a squad game now and if we want to win, we have to have a strong squad.

  34. @ amar – Also, you were criticising Bendtner and now you’re applauding him and criticising others for vilifying him. I don’t understand that at all.

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