Everton 1 Arsenal 1: Fellaini a hit but it's a sore point for Moyes
22:12 GMT, 28 November 2012
This has been a season that has hinted at great promise for Everton but it is also bringing David Moyes great frustration.
While Moyes should feel content with how his side are performing and the way his players blend, the rewards are simply not coming.
Arsenal’s visit to Goodison Park last night merely added another chapter to an increasingly familiar story.
Hair-raising: Marouane Fellaini drew Everton level after 27 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area
Celebration time: Everton's players mob Fellaini after he scores their leveller
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Naismith (Oviedo 61), Gibson (Hitzlsperger 72), Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic
Subs not used: Mucha, Heitinga, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios
Goal: Fellaini 28
Booked: Gibson, Oviedo
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Gibbs 4), Vermaelen, Walcott, Ramsey (Gervinho 79), Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla (Coquelin 90), Giroud
Subs not used: Mannone, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson
Goal: Walcott 1
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
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Despite falling behind to a goal from
Theo Walcott after 52 seconds — the quickest strike of the campaign
until Robin van Persie popped up at Old Trafford in the later kick-off —
Everton dominated Arsene Wenger’s side but all they had to show for
their efforts was Marouane Fellaini’s equaliser.
They deserved so much more.
There is no better venue in the
country for football to be played under floodlights than this
atmospheric old stadium and, given the encouraging start Everton have
made to the campaign, the sense of anticipation before kick-off was
The expectation, though, was checked
within just 52 seconds. Everton’s shape and concentration was lacking as
the game got under way and that allowed Walcott to power through the
middle, trading passes with Aaron Ramsey before finishing smartly via a
deflection off Tony Hibbert.
After the frustrations his side
experienced against Aston Villa at the weekend, this was the kind of
start Wenger had dreamed about.
It was also an opportunity for —Walcott to show why Arsenal should do all they can to agree new terms.
This was Walcott’s 10th goal in his
last 18 appearances. The ratio might not be as prolific as the now
departed Robin van Persie, but it is still an impressive return and not
the type that could be easily — or cheaply — replaced if he was to
Lightning start: Theo Walcott (centre) fired Arsenal into the lead after just 52 seconds – the quickest Premier League goal of the season until Robin Van Persie scored after 31 for Man United
Down low: Tim Howard makes a save as Tony Hibbert and Theo Walcott watch on
Tough tackling: Everton's Steven Pienaar gets stuck in to Bacary Sagna
Fully committed: Sagna gets a foot in to steal the ball away from Nikica Jelavic
There were no controversial chants and just a great atmosphere under the Goodison Park floodlights.
This hard-fought match was played in an environment that you would hope for and expect at most Premier League stadiums.
He was involved in everything
encouraging Arsenal did in the opening exchanges and the assured,
elegant way the visitors moved the ball around after that goal may have
caused Moyes to worry that a defeat similar to the 6-1 drubbing Arsenal
administered here in August 2009 was on the cards.
This Everton team, however, is made of
much sterner character and, crucially, it is imbued with more quality.
Roared on by the partisan crowd, they carried the fight to Arsenal,
asserting their physical presence and energy.
Central to the plot was the imposing presence of Fellaini.
Reflexes: Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny keeps out an attempt by Everton's Sylvain Distin
Breaking clear: Pienaar tries to shake off the attentions of Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud
Letting rip: Pienaar gets past former Evertonian Mikel Arteta to get in a strike at goal
On the run: Pienaar takes on the Arsenal defence
He is always guaranteed to stand out
from the crowd because of his unique hairstyle and huge frame, but he is
also a superb footballer.
Arsenal were just the latest team to discover how difficult it is to contain him.
It came as no surprise, then, that
Fellaini was the man who restored parity. There did not appear much on
when he latched onto a loose ball which Bacary Sagna had failed to
control but, showing great poise, he swept a left-footed curling shot
past Wojciech Szczesny from 25 yards.
That came at the end of a spell of
Everton pressure and gave the hosts even more confidence. They set about
trying to poke their noses in front and should have done so on 39
minutes when Nikica Jelavic crafted a wonderful chance.
High flyers: Mikel Arteta tries to reach the ball as Marouane Fellaini ushers it along with his chest
Sandwich: Aaron Ramsey (left) and Mikel Arteta close in on Everton's Leighton Baines
Tangle: Theo Walcott tries to break free of Leon Osman (left) and Tony Hibbert
His chest control and subsequent
turning of Per Mertesacker was exemplary but, unfortunately for the
Croatian, he blazed his shot over the bar.
It was a strike symptomatic of a striker who has only scored twice since the end of September.
Moyes may have been frustrated that
Everton could not get the second goal their play merited but half-time
did not check their momentum. They came out after the break with the
same drive and determination and, as a result, Arsenal’s ambitions were
limited to simply withstanding the intense pressure.
With Moyes never leaving his technical area, constantly urging his players forward, Everton tried to turning the screw.
First Steven Naismith went close, then
Sylvain Distin headed straight at Szczesny from point blank range when
picked out by Leighton Baines.
Baines and Steven Pienaar’s
combination play was a particular nuisance for Arsenal and Pienaar
should have had a penalty in the 64th minute when he surged into
Arsenal’s box but referee Michael Oliver felt Mikel Arteta’s challenge
on the South African was legitimate and awarded a corner.
The way Moyes reacted, flinging his arms out and shaking his head, told its own story.
Frustration. Plain and simple.