Reflections on Everton: THEO! THEO! THEO!

By on October 20, 2008

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Theo Walcott helped spark Arsenal to overturn a 1-nil deficit at halftime into a convincing 3-1 victory against Everton on Saturday at the Emirates.  Arsenal started the match off fairly well in the opening minutes until some lazy defending around the area which saw Leon Osman find himself on the end of a cutback from Steven Pienaar.  He was able to make a sliding toe poke past Almunia at the near post.  This ninth-minute goal silenced the supporters and unsettled the players.  There was a distinct feeling of “here we go again” floating above.

Arsenal struggled for much of the rest of the half to get a grip on the match.  While Everton didn’t seem nearly as impressive to this observer as they did to the broadcast commentator, they nearly doubled their lead after a Silvestre deflection went just wide and then again when Clichy, not for the first time this season, cleared a ball off the line.  Arsenal weren’t completely devoid of chances in the half, however, with van Persie having a point blank shot saved by Tim Howard and Fabregas shooting wide.

There was no doubt that the club was suffering from an international break hangover in the first half.  When Arsenal came back out for the second half, Theo Walcott replaced Kolo Toure who went off with a shoulder injury.  Walcott immediately injected life into the game which filtered its way through the entire side.  In the 49th minute, Samir Nasri hit a low shot from just under 25 yards which took a slight deflection and found the back of the net.  Arsenal were back.

Nothing less than a win would do considering our recent results and the team dug in, in classic Arsenal style.  They pinned Everton back so much that over the course of about 20 minutes their best attack consisted of Yakubu in a 1 on 4 situation just over the halfway line.  The go-ahead goal was looking inevitable when it finally came in the 71st minute.  Cesc Fabregas, who overall had a very mediocre match, started the move with a perfectly timed pass to Adebayor in the box.  He then cut it back to Fabregas at the penalty spot but his shot was saved by Howard.  But Howard couldn’t hold on and the rebound fell to van Persie who headed home.

A one-goal lead is usually a dicey situation for Arsenal but they continued to press looking for the goal that would seal the points.  It finally came in the 90th minute when Theo Walcott was rewarded for what he had brought to the team in the second half by getting his first-ever Premier League goal at the Emirates with a low shot from an Abou Diaby pass.

This is the result we needed and the second half was the performance we needed.  Before Sunday’s results, we are currently sitting in 3rd place, four points off Chelsea and Liverpool and 2 ahead of United, who have a game in hand.  Arsenal now get ready for their Champions League match at Fenerbahce, one of the tougher away trips you can make in the Champions League outside of England, Spain, or Italy, on Tuesday night.

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