Prior to the game, I, like many Arsenal fans, was very keen for the game to go ahead. I didn’t want to have it re-arranged for the simple reasons that I wanted to watch the game. I, again, like many Arsenal fans, have some sort of addiction to the team and need to physically watch a game in order to get my Arsenal fix, and with the game against Bolton postponed and the last home game the one I attended being against Hull (having missed the Villa game), meant that I simply couldn’t go 21 days without visiting the Emirates.
The strange thing about the snow days is that for a lot of the games, the announcements of calling them off was done either the day before the game or the day before the day before the game, so the 4pm call off on Wednesday was very strange, but being at Saturday’s game, it was clear to see why the games have been called off – and despite the major desire to make the game happen – in hindsight, the conditions were terrible, the fans were subjected to arduous journeys to the game, many will now be ill – and the players found it very hard to play in the condition.
Arsenal as a team – we are renowned for not playing that well in bad conditions – so in reality we should have tried our best to avoid playing the game. I suppose our desire to gain ground over our rivals overtook our desire to wait until the conditions were right. The question is – can you blame the snow? I definitely say yes, although Arshavin disagrees – the Russian saying this:
“To be honest, it was not pleasant to be on the field for both Arsenal’s players and the opponent’s. A strong wind and snow was always blowing in your face. That is unusual for a game at the Emirates. On the other hand, football is played in any weather, so this complaint is certainly not the reason why we did not beat Everton.”
I kind of disagree – the snow did effect the game and changed the dynamic. Anything unusual in a sport can change the way the game works. Having said that though – credit to Everton for their display – they battled hard to close space – and they did deserve their point. In all fairness, we were not on our game and without Cesc, Song and Van Persie, three major players for us – the team didn’t have the balance right. But of course, it was just one game, and with Cesc returning and hopefully the snow going, we’ll be back to our usual self by the next game.
If you have not yet seen the highlights / goals, here they are:
But despite the draw, there are a lot of positives to take from the game. It was good to see Aaron Ramsey have a run out and play well – as did Nasri – but more impressive was Diaby, who is becoming a bit of a leader in terms of his attitude on the pitch. He took the game to Everton, even at 2-1 down – his runs were inventive and he has figured out when to pass and when to dribble, something he was struggling with earlier this season.
The negatives were of course, injuries – with Gallas and Denilson suffering unknown injuries – Denilson to his back / lung and Gallas apparently to his back as well. We should hear more in the next day or two, but Arsene did say this about the Brazilian:
“I have just seen him in the dressing room and he can walk quite normally. We will have to see, is it a broken rib or a deeper problem with his lungs? We don’t know.”
Arsene also summed up the game quite well when he talked about how well Everton played. It’s not normal for Arsene to say what he’s said and normally he does have excuses, but on Saturday he basically said it as it is.
“We played against a very good Everton team who for the biggest part of the game was more dangerous, sharper than us. At the end of the day we dropped two points but, looking at the game, we gained one point. We were closer to losing the game than winning it. We got the point because we had the spirit, the desire, but we didn’t find our game today. I found us having problems technically and as well because Everton stopped us very well from playing. In midfield they were dominant.”
Finally, I wanted to bring you a little something that will probably appear in most newspapers today – the admission of Arsene that he does ask players to handball the ball if injured to stop the game. This I think was said in reaction to the Everton team continuing to play when Denilson pulled up in the centre circle, which nearly resulted in a goal.
“I said to Denilson afterwards: ‘If that happens to you have to commit a handball.’ I’m very serious. If you go down, and there hasn’t been a foul, you cannot ask Everton to stop their counter-attack and not to score. So, if you go down like that, at least put your hand on the ball and it’s a free-kick.”
Interesting statement from Arsene – and you kind of wish he didn’t say these things, don’t you? Let’s see what the papers make of it!
[Thanks to my dear friend Bob who gave me the title of today's article - Frozen toes and a burnt tongue... in our eagerness to keep warm during the game, we got some hot chocolates in... and in our eagerness to drink it straight away, we burnt our tongues... ouch! Lesson learnt... Frozen toes and a burnt tongue... Arsenal 2 - 2 Everton...]