17 April 2013

Arsenal 0-0 Everton: Like kissing your sister

No offense to your sister, if you have one, but a draw is, as the old saying goes, like kissing your own sister. In other words, hardly what you're looking for in a kiss. In the end, this is a result that helps neither club as we both drop points. This isn't enough to prevent Everton from climbing into the top four by the end of the year, but it does slow us down after four consecutive wins. For the second time in as many matches, I'm somewhat flustered in my MOTM
selection as as Walcott was anonymous up top, having little to no impact: no shots on target, no shots at all in fact, and no significant action of any kind. Indeed, questions abound for all of our attackers after a draw in which our only real shots on goals came from the midfield and in which we failed to generate enough offense, begging questions about summer moves.

On the other hand, I had long ago pegged this as a match that could go either way, and with Everton knocking on the top-four door, they came in hungrier and more intense. Despite some brave talk before the game, we have have come in with less than an edge, feeling quite good about ourselves after a fine run of form. As a result, we've left the door open for Spurs, who now sit two points back with a game in hand.

Do I rue my previous post, in which I flirted with the heretical idea that an Everton win might lead to the interesting outcome of them knocking Spurs and/or Chelsea in the top four? Maybe, but only because the admission would suggest that I hold some kind of mysterious, magical power to influence the outcome of games from across the Atlantic. Trust me; if I had that power, I'd be wielding it in other ways. Suffice it to say that my paddypower account would be alive and active, and I'd be rolling in dough. Sure, I wish we had won and could enjoy a longer spell in 3rd place.  While our control of our own destiny is somewhat the worse for wear, we still have the inside track on securing a spot.

In that previous post, I touched on Spurs' ongoing injury woes and Chelsea's continued fixture-congestion. I can't even keep track of the many changes to their schedule, but their head-to-head with Spurs is now set for May 8th, falling between Spurs' matches with Southampton and at Stoke and between Chelsea's trips to Old Trafford and Villa Park (against an Acorns club fighting to stave off relegation). Chelsea then plays three games in six days, and Spurs three in eight. Depending on the outcomes of other matches between now and then, we'll find out what kind of outcome to root for there. One way or another, someone's dropping points.

It would have been nice to seize all three, but dropping two is not a crisis. It does, however, remind us of certain shortcomings in the squad. Why, for example, did Wilshere play again so soon after rushing back from injury? It was clear that he was trying to do too much on his own, and the downside to losing him is bigger than the upside of playing him. I would've prefered Oxlade-Chamberlain to start, if only for his penchant for winning penalties in or around the box (Neil Swarbick, I hope you're reading this. Mirallas clobbered him and you let it go?).  And with Walcott and Giroud struggling to do much of anything, our paucity of other options up top is exposed. Podolski didn't do much better when he came on, ending his brief, one-game reign as super-sub.

So it goes. If we can regroup and claim the low-hanging fruit on offer from the likes of QPR, Newcastle, Wigan, and Fulham, a draw today matters little. I closed earlier today by suggesting that I'll take a draw on the condition that Spurs or Chelsea lose against bottom-of-the-table teams. Having seen the first half of that happen today, I can only assume that the second part is bound to happen sooner rather than later.