Arsenal F.C. were held to one point by the Everton F.C. team that seems to relish the role of spoilers as they climb in the Premier League standings toward the coveted top four spots. This is the third meeting in a row between the two teams that has resulted in a draw, making it clear that this was more than just a fluke result. Anyone who has watched the Everton team closely this season already knew that.
Today’s match provided great examples of the heart this team brings every week. Everton faced an Arsenal team that had the opportunity to go seven points clear in the Premier League standings. Despite some markedly poor play in the last few matches, nobody believed that Arsenal would fail to take advantage of the opportunity to take that kind of a lead. Nobody thought that Everton would be able to hold off the Arsenal attack that was so impressive at the beginning of the season. It is not the first time this season that they were under-estimated to the chagrin of their opponents.
When rising stat Mesut Ozil scored his goal late in the game, it looked like they had gotten the win despite what can only be described as a disappointing effort by the Arsenal side. A gritty effort made by Gerard Deulofeo put the ball in the net to pull the Everton team even and held Arsenal to one point. Without a doubt, this match was an exercise in mind over matter, as the Everton team that nobody saw coming snatched a draw on pure guts, along with an inspired performance by American goalie Tim Howard. This has been a pattern for them all season.
Everton kept Liverpool from taking three points a few weeks back at the Merseyside Derby in an exciting game where they were expected to lose as well. It is the only time in the last 6 matches that Liverpool has played that they failed to walk away with a victory. That contest was an extemely physical battle from beginning to end which referee Phil Dowd appeared to lose control of early on. Everton matched the relentless attack of Liverpool, and were it not for a free kick taken from the wrong spot that escaped Dowd’s notice, Everton might have won the day. Though both teams gave poor defensive efforts, the Everton side found a way to battle back every time it looked like Liverpool had managed to steal the win.
They gave Stoke a 4-0 thrashing the following week, just dominating the field with the Stoke side which has been struggling. They were then just edged out in a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United on their way to Sunday’s match with Arsenal. With the tie, Everton takes possession of the fifth spot in the Premier League standings. With a home match against Fulham on December 14th, Everton will have the opportunity to launch themselves into the top four. That will, of course, depend on how those teams already there fare as well. After being held to one point by this Everton team, Arsenal is unlikely to make it easy on them.
By Jim Malone