When you are held rapt by the tactical analysis of the increasingly Mitt Romney-faced Jamie Carragher and duplicitous advisor at the Court of Louis XIV, Gary Neville, as they praise Everton’s ‘Bayern in Blue’ performance, well, it’s hard to really add much more than has been said elsewhere.
We had already billed this as the sort of potentially era-defining match that the Toffees usually choke on like a toddler with a bag of bon bons. So although we all went into the game excited and expectant, there also lurked the fear that we would once again wither in the glare of the spotlight.
Shows what we fucking know.
Everton were simply magnificent. From the moment that Leon Osman’s audacious dipping snapshot from long distance almost landed in the top corner of the Park End net, beyond the point when Seamus Coleman juggled the ball from the edge of his own area to almost over the halfway line, the Blues took Arsenal to school.
And robbed their dinner money and got them right in the eye with their ‘golly spoon’.
When this match and its significance began to crystallise, as the form of both sides wildly diverged, we commented on the fact that its outcome could have potentially far-reaching significance for both clubs. For Everton that still hinges on whether it has given them the impetus that will end in Champions League qualification. For Arsenal though, and specifically Arsene Wenger, the damage may already be done.
The chicken-skinned Frenchman can hide behind the spending of the opposition when his team are bummed by the other Champions League behemoths, but on Sunday he looked like a dinosaur – one of the shit ones that ate grass as well – whose world was transformed irreversibly by the shuddering impact of Roberto Martinez’s soccer comet.
Wenger can complain about the loan signings all he likes, but there was nothing stopping him from buying one of the Blues’ best performers and scorer of the first goal, Steven Naismith. Fair enough, he did knock in the rebound after one the players whose presence at Everton most irks Wenger, Romelu Lukaku, had been denied by Wojciech Szczesny, but you get the point. Lukaku being lent to Everton is somehow much fairer than, say, the Gunners paying £25 million for him next season or something.
And before some sweaty mouth-breather like Martin Samuel goes on about the players not being able to face the club that owns their contract, we fucking beat Chelsea at home, with a goal from Naismith by the way, and were desperately unlucky to lose at Stamford Bridge. Which is more than can be said for bought and paid for Arsenal.
Oh, and will the big quilt be campaigning for Gareth Barry to be eligible when we play Manchester City?
13 tog you, lad.
Of all the countless reasons to enjoy the game, one of the biggest was the performance of Ross Barkley, who came on as sub early on after Osman suffered a horrible Enzo Maccarenelli-style eye injury while rattling through the back of Bacary Sagna. It wasn’t the most spectacular Barkley display, but he showed a level of maturity that he needs to fulfil his potential. With the game not long at 1-0 he looked up and thought about a risky cross-field ball to Coleman. In an instant though he realised that a mistake left Everton’s whole right side open to a counter-attack and turned back and kept possession.
Sometimes football is as much about the passes that you don’t play as the ones you do.
One of the points that almost all the pie-faced pundits picked up on was that Lukaku started the game on the right of the front three. That was seen as a comment on the shitness of Nacho Monreal, but it was more to do with getting the big lump doing the things he is best at, and that is leaving the clever movement and hold up play to Naismith, running with the ball and then kicking the living piss out of it with his left foot. And that’s exactly what he did, on 34 minutes, gathering a pass from Kevin Mirallas and steaming down the right before appearing to lose the ball as he cut across the area. None of the red-shirted defenders fancied getting in his road though and the barnstorming Belgian smashed a low drive into the bottom corner.
There was no real response from Arsenal after the break, and on 61 minutes the final half hour of exhibition stuff was set up by the pace and persistence of Mirallas. The wide-man, who head on looks like someone messing around covering half their face with a mirror, had his best game for ages, and it was summed up by the way he muscled Sagna off the ball before driving at the visitors’ defence and releasing Naismith. Again the keeper could only parry the shot and, under pressure from Mirallas, returning shit-heel Mikel Arteta toe-ended the ball into his own net.
There’s a long way to go and Arsenal do have the much easier run-in, so we all know that qualifying for the Gazprom Bacchanalian League is going to be really tough.
Fucking hell though, it’s going to be a wild ride while it lasts.