By 1970’s Gooner
I was very impressed with Everton’s display at Old Trafford. It was characterised with tenacious marking coupled with positive forward play. They played two forwards in a 4 4 2 formation away at Old Trafford which shows their self confidence and belief that the best way to tackle these “big boys” is to stand up to them.
And stand up to Manchester United they did. Matching them in every department knowing that in Tim Cahill they have a demon who can not be exorcised however hard the opposition try.
He has a knack of scoring in big games as he showed against Manchester United with a beautiful header at the far post rising above Evra to equalise Ronaldo’s earlier deflected shot. And a last minute audacious overhead kick to get the equalizer against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Everton will not restrict their aspirations to just getting a point like Portsmouth did. They will be gunning for Arsenal full of confidence that their form is up there with the big boys but also realizing that Arsenal’s recent lackluster displays mean that they are there for the taking.
Having watched Arsenal’s recent performances I would find it hard to argue with this sentiment. Arsenal have found it difficult to repeat their early season scintillating football.
It started just after that away Reading game where the whole of Europe were rubbing their eyes with Arsene Wenger’s brand of 1970’s Ajax “Total Football”.
For the next four games (Wigan, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Middlesbrough) Arsenal were deprived of their creative midfield players of Fabregas and Hleb (the latter only played for 60 minutes against Villa).
The players also looked jaded unable to find that quick rhythm and precise passing that has been so characteristic earlier in the season. As a result the team struggled to find their rhythm and a way round the hard pressing adopted by the opposition. Points were dropped.
In the next games victories over Chelsea and Spurs were secured partly due to uncharacteristic errors by the opposition but Portsmouth held out for a scoreless draw.
The creative midfield players had returned for these games helping to restore some of the creativity that was not there before but unfortunately not the sparkle, precise passing and more importantly movement off the ball that is so vital in a “ball to floor” type of football that Arsene Wenger’s teams play.
What was also obvious was that the player designated to support Adebayor in the forward positions was more occupied in doing Fabregas’s job in the centre of midfield. The double negative effect was that Adebayor and Fabregas were rendered that much less effective.
There is not a lot that Wenger can do to restore the freshness other than resting some players; but he may be loathed to make wholesale changes. He can also twig somewhat with the formation and the deployment within it so as to increase the team’s overall efficiency.
In this respect he should consider bringing the 4 4 2 system back so as to give some real support to Adebayor. This he should do even if Van Persie is not fit to return.
Maybe he was reluctant to do so having tried Eduardo there for a few games which didn’t work mostly due to Eduardo’s need to get acclimatized to English football.
But now Bendtner has shown that he is more than ready. When he came on at Portsmouth he helped create two goalscoring chances during a relatively short period of time.
At the same time Hleb should be told to keep to the left of midfield and Rosicky on the right so as to let Fabregas run the show again.
We more or less know how Everton will approach the game and what they can do. The result however will largely depend on which Arsenal turn up.