All’s well that ends well.
After a cagey start, Arsenal warmed into the game against Everton quite nicely and although it was far from a great performance, we ground out the win and got the points we needed to move back into third place, just four points off second.
At the beginning, our movement was uncoordinated and lazy; we resembled a bunch of old men doddering about the pitch, always waiting for someone else to find space and the atmosphere in the stadium mirrored our playing style – stale, anxious and altogether a bit ‘meh’.
Luckily, after the first third of the match, Arsenal began to pick out passes and get in behind Everton’s defence more affectively.
That’s not to say it was a piece of cake by any means – there were several hairy moments, which had me clawing at my own face and Everton played well, keeping possession for large spells – but we somehow managed to keep a clean sheet and score two goals.
David Ospina 8
He still makes me a little nervous when he parries and punches the ball into dangerous areas, but, credit where it’s due, he had a good game today and made some key saves.
One standout moment was in the first half where Gabriel allowed Lukaku through on goal, one-on-one with Ospina, and the goalkeeper made an excellently timed tackle.
Hector Bellerin 7
I love his energy and overall attitude. When he loses the ball, he busts a gut to get it back. His movement and link-up play with Oxlade-Chamberlain was also exciting to watch.
Gabriel Paulista 7
After his initial stutter early in the first half, he settled into the match well and made some brilliant challenges at vital moments, including one on Lukaku in the first half, which, if he hadn’t, almost certainly would’ve resulted in a goal.
Laurent Koscielny 7
Solid as usual. Professional and reliable.
Keiran Gibbs 7
He’s growing into more of a presence and really working hard to cement his place in the first team. Very versatile: he’s quick enough to be useful going forward, as well as in defence.
He also knows when to attack and when to hang back, rather than going for glory. I even thought he was going to get a goal himself towards the end.
Francis Coquelin 6
Not his best game in an Arsenal shirt but he won the ball back a few times in key areas. Picked up a nasty nose injury thanks to Giroud’s head and a ball to the face.
Santi Cazorla 8
Cazorla has blossomed into a commanding presence in midfield. He runs the middle of the pitch almost single-handedly and, even when we’re not playing brilliantly, can show flashes of genius.
I was also impressed with his defensive work today; he never stops working.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7
I saw a few people giving him stick on Twitter about being too predictable, which I agree with to a certain extent, but I thought he looked sharp, strong and disciplined today. I particularly loved it when he danced past the Everton defence into the box as if they didn’t exist.
Mesut Ozil 8
Ozil has this knack of looking like he’s doing very little while simultaneously being brilliant. Not only did he get two assists – the second of which being an unreal pass to Rosicky – his pass accuracy was almost perfect. Genius player.
Alexis Sanchez 7
He staged some good attacks in the first half and didn’t seem to mind mucking out at the back. However, it wasn’t his best game for us, he gave the ball away a fair bit and sometimes I just wish he’d make the pass rather than try to take on the entire opposition team by himself.
Sometimes simple can be the most effective.
Olivier Giroud 8
I’m glad he scored since he’s one of those players that really beats themselves up about not scoring.
I imagine Monaco and those sitters were praying on his mind so getting back on the horse, so to speak, would’ve been good for him.
Plus, he’s more than just a striker, I feel like I harp on about his hold-up play a lot but it really is superb.
Tomas Rosicky 10
Danny Welbeck N/A
Only on the pitch for minutes.
Calum Chambers N/A
Same as Welbeck.