ARSENAL 2-2 everton
Last Saturday, Everton clearly had the first day of the season on their minds. Maybe Arsenal did too. One side looked hungry to right the wrongs of that day. The other looked, perhaps, complacent.
Maybe it is harsh to paint Arsenal's performance that way; it probably does a disservice to Everton. But if there wasn't an attitude problem, then it only remains to say that we are a mediocre side without Fabregas and Van Persie, because the team failed to put a good move together until stoppage time, were largely outfought and sometimes outplayed.
Hopefully, by May, it will be seen as an off-day that yielded an undeserved but invaluable point. But I'm not so sure that this will be a mere aberration- it could herald a difficult period without the services of Alex Song. I know we have Fabregas back soon, but in his own way Song is just as important. We've countless creative options in midfield, but no deputy destroyer, and it's disappointing that Wenger looks unlikely to address this with his cheque book. Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey took turns looking average both with and without the ball. It's forgivable for the inexperienced Welshman but the other two really need to start delivering on a regular basis. To be fair to Diaby, he set up Rosicky beautifully for the second equaliser.
Defensively, as a team, there are countless problems- that Arsenal can still be mentioned as title contenders testifies to the general weakness of the Premiership. Everton deserve praise for their application and tactical nous. Their goals exemplified two of our most glaring flaws- susceptibility in the air and on the counter attack. But as regards the latter, I can't help thinking that better sides would have given us a hammering with all the space to be exploited. It brought me back to games like the 4-4 against Spurs last season- without Song, this team just looks so easy to open up, and it's a huge worry for this massive month.
ON TO TRANSFER NEWS, and it seems the return of Sol campbell, something I never truly believed possible, is on the cards. Word is he'll line up for the reserves tonight against West Ham in advance of signing a contract for, one assumes, the rest of the season. He's 35, and so hardly fits the profile of a typical Wenger signing. On top of that, he looked past his best in 2006 before he left Arsenal, so it's hard to see how he's worth having now. But maybe it's the quick fix we need in the centre half position. He's been training with the club since September so Wenger has had time to ponder the merits of this deal and obviously Sol has impressed him. And maybe, just maybe, not having to spend money on a centre back makes it more likely that we will in other areas. Either way, I'm just glad to see a player come in. He has ample Premiership experience, and was a colossus in his day, so at least we won't have another cygan, Stepanovs or Senderos on our hands. And while I worry that his lack of pace will prove costly, he will have Gallas or Vermaelan to play alongside him and both of them have a turn of pace, so hopefully any prospective partnership will be mutually beneficial. Maybe most importantly of all, he's a big man and a big character. Our defending of set plays should improve with him in the side, and he's a winner, a leader, someone who won't go missing when the going gets tough.
Except possibly if we find ourselves behind at half time due to his two errors. Then he might, quite literally, go missing.