Good morning Positivistas,
Our second defeat in 16 PL games came as something of a surprise, and needless to say a disappointment. I admit that coming into the game against our favourite opponents, and watching the hapless Toffees fumble around for the opening 20 minutes, there seemed very little chance indeed that we would not speed home with not only the points safely in hand but a probable boost to our goal difference.
Oh Andrew, thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
With the home crowd groaning in justifiable apprehension, from being battered and clueless, somewhere our hosts managed to find a spark of resistance midway through the first half. That smouldering heap of discarded blue rags grew into a small bonfire of hope with Coleman’s neatly taken goal. The home crowd awoke, a quiver of expectation. Despite our efforts at fighting the blaze early in the second half Everton piled the tinder on, and by the time Williams headed their winner we were opposed by a conflagration across the horizon that scorched our title ambitions and left us breathless and smudged. The home crowd went mental.
As Arsene rightly said they were aggressive, physical, and they knocked us out of our stride. Clearly they were never going to out-football us, or even out-football us, but they did what the had to do, and earned their reward. Our defects last night were that having controlled the game for the opening half hour, and made chances before half time, that we did not score more than one goal. In truth the goal we did get was hardly a classic. At 1-1 we created just one really good chance and even that was far from a tap in for Ozil. How unusual it was to lose to two goals, both headers, scored by opposition defenders? A full back heading in a goal from the edge of the 6 yard box from open play – most, most odd. There is clearly a message there both for our defensive organisation, and from the goals themselves which I suspect we could learn a little when trying to break open the packed defences at the Ems.
Of our lads last night I thought Koscielny was absolutely magnificent and that was as good a game as I have seen him play, a real captain’s performance. To come off the pitch having lost a game into which you have put so much must be sickening. Gabriel and Monreal, Le Coq and Xhaka also deserve a mention for their unstinting hard work and self control against an hour of physical mauling.
Of the opposition I thought their full backs, both of whom have been on the end of stick from EFC fans all season I read, were top notch. I cannot recall Hector having such a quiet evening for a long while as he was pinned back.
Having dissected, reviewed, learned and discarded we move on to the Etihad on Sunday. A four day break much appreciated and, I suspect, needed by our players who had as physically hard a game last night as they have had all season. I did not see any injuries last night which was a small but welcome relief.
In the course of a 38 game season two defeats is of little or no significance as it is resilience that brings success. A first defeat away from home for nine months is hardly calamity. We shall see what we learned.
Enjoy your week.