22 August 2014

Help! A Toffee has hijacked the blog!

A quick note: today's post comes courtesy of Planet Goodison, an Everton blog whose editor has been bold enough to venture into our midst with his musings ahead of our Saturday clash. For what it's worth, I've returned the favor with my own post at Planet Goodison. Give Goodison's piece below a read, and give him what-for in the comments below!

When you’re an Everton supporter, you must have a short memory. Actually better yet, you must have a selective memory. Did Liverpool beat us 4-0 at Anfield? I have no idea. Did we lose to Southampton 2-0 by conceding two own goals? Hmmm I don’t recall. Was that Arsenal that beat us 4-1 in the FA cup quarterfinals? Your guess is as good as mine, probably better.

Now if you want to hear something I do remember, it’s a 3-0 drubbing we handed out last time Arsenal stepped into the friendly confines of Goodison Park. What made the blue boys of Merseyside so dominant on that day was a fit Romelu Lukaku. Roberto Martinez switched his usual starting formation of a 4-2-3-1, where Lukaku would play as the lone striker up top, to a formation of 4-3-3, moving the Belgian striker out right. What happened next was a thing of all my boyhood dreams and all of Nacho Monreal’s nightmares.

Unfortunately for us, a repeat performance by Lukaku is a very rare possibility. He is still recovering from a deep World Cup run and a summer spent in transfer limbo. Even though he played the full match last Saturday in the opener vs. Leicester City, he was at full speed for about 30 seconds of those 90 minutes.

However I’ll gladly blame the World Cup for Lukaku if it also costs Arsenal the chance to start a fit Mesut Özil. The German’s vision and passing prowess is tailor made to gash our aging backline of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka. The collective feeling amongst Evertonians last week, after watching the Leicester City attack have their way with our back four, was one of impending doom at the hands of Ozil and Arsenal. 

Apparently, former Toffeeman Mikel Arteta will not face his former club this weekend due to a knock picked up during Champions League play (did Arsenal qualify for the Champions League? I have a selective memory).I’m not sure how widely it’s known outside of Everton but Mikel Arteta might be our most hated former player. The most recent run-in resulted from Arteta’s kissing, or from our perspective, full-on making-out with the Arsenal badge after converting the penalty in the FA cup quarterfinal against us. That seemed to rub some Everton supporters the wrong way. In the fixture at Goodison last season, with the game in the waning moments, he let a loose elbow fly at Ross Barkley before exchanging some heated fighting words with Leighton Baines. It looked, for all intents and purposes, like the birth of a heated rivalry between 4th place competitors for years to come. And finally, when Arteta came to Goodison and scored a (own) goal in the 3-0 defeat, it was class of him to leave the badge alone.

 Of course, last campaign, your team was ravaged by injuries and, with a healthy squad this year, are much closer to winning the title than Everton are to just finishing 4th. However, I do hope that Everton and Arsenal start to develop a modern 4th place rivalry. At least for the fact that if one of us finish 4th and the other finish 5th for a few years, it will mean a lot less European competition for the most boring team on planet Earth, Tottenham Hotspur. I’ll be live tweeting the game this Saturday from the account @PlanetGoodison, give it a follow and harass me every time Arsenal score and I’ll reply by telling you how stupid I think Giroud’s haircut is. 

 Final prediction? Everton 1-1 Arsenal. 

Well-played, Goodison. Toffees, give him a follow at @planetGoodison and remember to check out Planet Goodison itself.