Apart from freezing my nuts off at the Emirates, I also watched the game, in the evening, on telly and I can tell you that the conditions were far worse on the pitch than how they came across on the box.
It started snowing two minutes after kick off and finished two minutes before the end: reaching blizzard conditions, and a serious injury waiting to happen, midway through the second half.
Everton were well aware that this situation would even things up and Moyes had obviously whipped his players up to a state of self belief and fighting spirit, best demonstrated by the statement of “We mean business” made by taking to the field in short sleeved shirts.
There was clearly two distinct game plans on display today: Everton’s was to close down quickly, use their aerial advantage and, when they could, hit us on the break, while ours was to use our greater short range passing ability. The conditions were such that they enhanced Everton’s game plan, rewarding them with a goal from a corner, while acting as a hindrance to ours.
Arsenal’s inability to pass the ball as quickly as necessary to make the game plan effective left us going into the break looking like a mish mash of players not quite knowing where they should be or what they should be doing. The only saving grace was Denilson’s lucky deflection which brought us back on terms.
Wenger, I suspect had the French hair dryer on a low setting, explaining that all that was needed was to up the tempo of the passing and success would be achieved. The players duly obliged and came out with a greater determination and a far quicker passing game, the result being that we looked the team far more likely to win rather than Everton as MOTD tried their hardest to suggest. This short period of domination lasted until, for the second week on the trot, we forgot how the off side rule works, meaning that Pinar was allowed to run through one on one with Almunia who, instead of making himself look big, which as I understand it, is the correct thing to do in these circumstances, he duly went to ground enabling the South African to embarrassingly chip him for their second goal. With only five minutes to go I for one feared the worst but to my surprise lady luck was their to save us again, in the form of yet another deflected goal this time from Rosicky.
Player ratings: this week they are mostly based on body language, the desire to win, as conditions made it very difficult to judge players by the ability we normally expect from them.
Almunia: Coco is getting worse, his kicking is getting worse, his positioning is getting worse, his throwing is getting worse and as far as I can see he doesn’t inspire anybody. 4
Sagna: did what he could in bad conditions. 6
Gallas: have you ever seen one of those heart machines on telly that goes beep, beep, beep to indicate that the patient is alive? Well half way through the first half the beep stopped and was replaced by an alarming, continuous high pitched noise. As Gallas pulled up in a serious way that long continuous alarm was the sound of our season dying. Fortunately, Billy boy survived and so has our season. 7
Vermaelen: well, with conditions like that of course he wasn’t at his best but he kept on going, the same alarm went off when he went down injured in the first half. 7
Traore: if this review was based solely on body language then this young man would come in the category of frightened little rabbit, it’s not that he made huge mistakes its just that I wish Clichy would hurry back. 5
Nasri: worked his socks off in the first half, was by far the best player, tailed off a bit at the end but nevertheless he put in a shift to be proud of. 7.5
Denilson: it would be so easy to slag him off but the conditions were very difficult indeed, although, it has to be said: Song, please come back quickly. 5
Diaby: and again it would be easy to slag him off, poor positioning, not releasing the ball quick enough…..but then, in the last ten minutes he was the best player on the park, driving forward, crating opportunities, excellent passing and setting up the equaliser. 6
Ramsey: was no better or no worse than any of the others on the pitch which is a good testimony to just how far this young man has come. I would have preferred to start with Rosicky as I think Ramsey still plays his best football in the second half when the play is stretched a bit more. 6
Arshavin: this man’s determination was faultless today, ran his heart out. 7
Edurardo: and again, good body language, tried hard in poor conditions. 5.5
There really are two match reports today: the glass is half empty report in which Arsenal wasted a golden opportunity to go second by failing to beat Everton and if anything we were lucky to come away with a point.
Or, the glass half full report, in which a never say die Arsenal fought back twice to save a point and keep our title hopes alive. You chose.
Come on you rip roaring, goal scoring, glory grabbing, Gunnnnneeeerrrrrrss.