Arsenal 4 Everton 1: Four talking points
Arsenal 4 Everton 1: Four talking points as the Gunners reach the FA Cup semi-finals with victory over the Toffees
Everton hard done by
Anyone looking at the scoreline after the game would be forgiven for thinking it was a comfortable home win for Arsenal. But it was far from it. Everton started brightly and were only undone by a move and finish of real quality from Arsenal (and a slight defensive mistake from Seamus Coleman). Everton fought back, with a run and cross of real quality from Ross Barkley, finished by Romelu Lukaku after a lucky deflection from a mishit Kevin Mirallas shot. Barkley himself could, and perhaps given his finishing ability should, have put Everton in front early in the second half with a shot from just inside the box. As it was, he put it just over, and soon after Barry gave away an uncharacteristically sloppy penalty in bringing down Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, which Mikel Arteta converted brilliantly – twice in fact, as Mark Clattenburg booked Olivier Giroud for encroachment and ordered a retake. As Roberto Martinez said afterwards, the second goal was always going to prove crucial, and so it did – Everton being forced to chase the game, which certainly contributed to Arsenal’s fourth goal, scored on the break, if not their third, too. This is not to do a disservice to Arsenal, who were impressive; merely to say that, on another day, the scoreline could have been very different.
Seems ‘roud to leave out Olivier
Yaya Sanogo – or ‘Sa-no-goal’ as some have dubbed him – again failed to net today in the hour he played before being substituted for Olivier Giroud, who went on to score two. This was largely due to the game naturally opening up, leaving better opportunities for Arsenal, but Sanogo seems far from the finished article in crafting such opportunities. Granted, Arsenal have the gargantuan task of overturning a two-goal deficit in Munich on Tuesday night, but given Giroud’s recent spell on the bench due to Wenger’s evident disapproval of his little liason dangereuse (which is arguably not irrelevant to football anyway), the French striker should be relatively fresh. So the sensible decision, at the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup, seemed to be for Arsene Wenger to play the 27-year-old with (now) 18 goals this season, instead of the 21-year-old with none. Anyway, the ‘Professor’ will be glad that it’s all academic now.
Finally, after nine years, time for some silverware in the closet for Arsenal?
Even if their title bid has (somewhat) hit the rocks and Champions League success is mission (near) impossible, Arsenal now have a real chance of glory in the FA Cup, as, of the other six other teams left in the competition (Sheffield United, Charlton Athletic, Hull, Sunderland, Manchester City and Wigan), Manuel Pelligrini’s men are the only team you would fancy to beat Arsenal all things being equal. Avoid them in the semis (if Man City tomorrow beat Wigan, their conquerors in the final last year, that is), and Arsenal’s chances only increase.
…and, booking their place on the plane?
Yes, it’s an almost laughably-cliched tendency of English people to hype any new homegrown talent, but both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Barkley were very impressive today – full of energy, running at players and trying things. Just what was needed in the relatively lifeless (or ‘typical England’) performance against Denmark on Wednesday, in fact.