Sunday, 9 March 2014

FA Cup QF: Arsenal vs Everton - match report w/ extras

Exciting game: Arsenal hosted Everton at The Emirates, who would qualify for the semis?
Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post where I have a match report from Saturday afternoon's FA Cup quarter-final match from The Emirates Stadium, as Arsenal hosted Everton in the only QF tie of the day. 

The last meeting between the two sides ended in a dramatic 1-1 draw, as loanee winger Gerard Deulofeu equalised for The Toffees late on after Mesut Ozil's breakthrough late on in the second-half. 

The team line-ups for both sides during the match (players in yellow were booked, if there are brackets it means they were substituted): 

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Jenkinson 87'), Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Rosicky 78'), Ozil and Sanogo (Giroud 61').

Subs: Podolski, Viviano, Miyaichi, Gnabry, Giroud, Jenkinson and Rosicky. 

Everton: Joel, Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Mirallas, Pienaar and Lukaku.

Subs: Howard, Browning, Hibbert, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman and McGeady. 

Saturday's match was even more entertaining, an end-to-end match which started well for the hosts - with Ozil breaking the deadlock in the 7th minute after a good bursting run in midfield from Cazorla to feed through the German, slotting the ball out of Everton goalkeeper Joel's reach into the bottom corner of the net. 

Bottom corner: Ozil broke the deadlock for Arsenal after 7 minutes of play. 

Good move: Ozil is congratulated for his finish with his team-mates. 
The Gunners kept their visitors under pressure after the opener, with some good llink-up play between Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil feeding Sanogo in the box who had a shot parried away by Joel in the 9th minute.

Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna had a curling cross into the box parried onto the crossbar by Joel after he did not know the flight trajectory of the ball which was swerving at him towards goal, before Everton equalised in the 32nd minute.

The pass into the box from Barkley was class, but Mirallas failed to properly connected with the delivery and his unintended flick fell into the path of Lukaku who slotted the ball past Fabianski who could only watch as the shot went past him into the net. 

Lukaku anticipates Mirallas' flick on towards him to slot into the net and make it 1-1.

Can't hear you: Lukaku celebrates scoring his first ever FA Cup goal to equalise
Everton supporters made themselves known with smoke bombs after Lukaku's opener
Everton were automatically back in the game, taking advantage of a counter attack, but Arsenal were desperate to get back into the lead with Oxlade-Chamberlain having a stinging drive towards goal pushed away by Joel a few minutes after Lukaku's equaliser. 

Everton's Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas did well to weave past an Arsenal defender before having a one-on-one strike with Fabianski (as there was no support from his team-mates in the box, he had no option), but his effort was comfortably saved by the Arsenal No.2 as the match went from end-to-end attacks within minutes. 

An inviting ball into the box from Ozil found Cazorla just outside the box, the Spaniard's resulting shot on goal was deflected by Distin before curling just past the post - lucky escape for goalkeeper Joel who was helpless to stop the shot if it hit the back of the net. 

Arsenal continued to press but Everton stayed strong at the back and the score was 1-1 at half-time. 
However, The Gunners kept on pushing towards Everton's goal in the second-half and Oxlade-Chamberlain won a penalty in the 65th minute after being clipped twice inside the box by English defensive midfielder Gareth Barry, who tried to stop him from bursting towards goal but mistimed his tackle and paid the price. 

The resulting penalty was taken by former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta, who slotted the ball past Joel into the bottom left hand corner of the net powerfully to make it 2-1.

BUT, referee Mark Clattenburg made Arteta take the penalty again as Giroud was adjudged to have pushed McCarthy in the run-up to the penalty (to stop him from running towards the ball if there was a rebound available) - Arteta retook the spot kick and made no mistake, scoring again despite Joel diving the right way.

Giroud leads the protests to ref Clattenburg after he tells Arteta to take the penalty again

Make no mistake: Arteta scores the retake, in an ultimate test of nerves to make it 2-1

Keep calm and celebrate: Arteta celebrates his penalty strike against his old club
Captain: Arteta was at Everton for 6 years, becoming their captain and regular first-team player
Reliable: Arteta made 209 appearances in total for Everton, scoring 35 and making 41 assists
Arsenal kept up the momentum, and made it 3-1 in the 83rd minute after some good patient build-up play between Rosicky and Sagna on the flank, before the latter had a low cross into the box slotted past Joel into the corner of the net by substitute striker Olivier Giroud. 

Service: Giroud celebrates his strike against Everton to seal Arsenal's place at Wembley
Everton were punished for losing the ball in midfield, and Arsenal dominated the possession and passing as The Toffees' heads certainly dropped after Giroud's finish. 

The Gunners made it 4-1 in the 85th minute, with Giroud completing his double after some good passing and movement from Cazorla and Ozil who combine to feed Giroud to smash the ball past Joel.  

Slotted into the net: Giroud completes his 2-minute brace to make it 4-1 and punish Everton

Super sub: Giroud celebrates his finish to seal Arsenal's place in the semi-finals.
The match finished 4-1 in the end, with Everton feeling hard done by as they played well but their heads dropped towards the end of the game when they were ultimately punished on the counter attack. 

My Man Of The Match:
It was very hard to pick one player because many players have very good games, but I would have to pick a joint duo of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because:

  • Every time he made a mistake he did well to rectify it, tracking back with pace and intent, putting pressure on the Everton attackers when he pushed back in defensive-midfield
Bossing the midfield: Oxlade-Chamberlain worked hard for the team as Arsenal sealed their place in the Last 4
  • He showed good attacking intelligence and great awareness to seek out team-mates in space
Composed under pressure: The Ox was influential in an impressive Arsenal side
  • He had blistering pace throughout, always looking to play a team-mate through or have a shot on goal to test Joel
  • He was always full of energy and showed what Arsenal were missing with Walcott's injury absence
Ozil because:
  • He was under a ridiculous amount of pressure and criticism from the media to perform, he certainly did.
  • He was the creative genius pulling the strings for Arsenal in midfield, passing to team-mates and creating counter attacks throughout the game
  • Attacked for "not doing his part for the team" in previous matches in the past few weeks - worked hard for the team, defending and tracking back when Everton had ball possession
Tracking back: Ozil was a standout performer, to the contrary of his critics.
  • Looked composed under pressure from Everton players, scored the opener and made assists with key passes from the first minute to the last.  
Standout performer: 
Ross Barkley. 
If he does not get on the plane to Brazil come June I will be very upset and quite confused. One of the best young players in England at the moment, and he is certainly showing it. He has played well consistently this season, and he was unlucky to be on the losing side against Arsenal on Saturday.

Played well: Barkley was the best player on the pitch for Everton against Arsenal, giving England manager Roy Hodgson something to think about when it comes to the World Cup selection....
He was bright throughout, always looking up to find a team-mate in space, assisted Lukaku for the great delivery into the box and was unlucky not to have a goal of his own (two curling efforts narrowly wide)

Brief EPL Match Reports:

West Brom 0 Manchester United 3
United moved past Everton into 6th place on goal difference thanks to a comfortable 3-0 away win against West Brom, with goals from Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.

Jones broke the deadlock for The Red Devils after an inviting free-kick delivery from van Persie was headed powerfully by the English full-back into the top corner of the net past Foster. 

Heading the opener: Jones jumped highest to break the deadlock for United.

From an unlikely source: Jones celebrates his 3rd goal of the season.
Wayne Rooney scored his 11th goal of the season with a header in the 65th minute, before Welbeck put the icing on a solid performance with a chipped strike over Foster into the bottom corner of the net in the 82nd minute after a slick pass-and-move was well finished by the young English striker. 

Another header: Rooney doubled the lead in the 65th minute to give United a comfortable lead

Taking advantage: Rooney celebrates his 11th EPL goal of the season
Curling finish: Welbeck put the icing on the cake to make it 3-0 late on

Impressive: During the game, United took their chances and West Brom paid the price.
Cardiff City 3 Fulham 1
The Welsh side took a vital win in a relegation-battle between newly-promoted Cardiff and strugglers Fulham. 

A double from English defender and captain Steven Caulker as well as an own goal from Fulham right-back Sascha Reither gave the hosts a 3-1 win, despite on-loan German midfielder Lewis Holtby equalising for the visitors on the hour mark. 

Inspired: Caulker scored a brace as Cardiff beat Fulham in a vital bottom of the table clash.

Faint hope: Holtby celebrates his equaliser against Cardiff, not enough though
Will Fulham get relegated now? That's the big question.. 

Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 1 
The Saints won away from home against London club Crystal Palace thanks to a goal from English forward Jay Rodriguez. 

Norwich 1 Stoke City 1
Goals from Bradley Johnson and a penalty from Jonathan Walters made sure that Norwich and Stoke shared the spoils at Carrow Road. 

Chelsea 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0 
The Blues extended their lead at the top of the EPL table to 7 points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal with a 4-0 thrashing against fellow London club Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the evening kick-off on Saturday. 

Goals from Samuel Eto'o, Eden Hazard (penalty) and a double from substitute Demba Ba within the last two minutes of the match gave Mourinho's men space at the helm of the Premier League. 

Capitalizing: Eto'o takes advantage of a costly Spurs mistake to slot past Lloris.

Who's old now? Eto'o mimics an old man after controversial comments from Mourinho a few weeks ago stating that his strikers were too old and not good enough 
Calm and collected: Hazard doubles the lead from the penalty spot. 

Clinical: Hazard celebrates his 13th EPL goal of the season to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead. 
Tottenham will obviously feel hard done by, as they had French defender Younes Kaboul sent off in the second-half, when they felt the decision was harsh. They were unlucky to concede 2 or 3 goals, but were simply not at the races and struggled to contain Chelsea's counter attacking football.