A toast to absent friends as Arsenal freeze

Arsenal 2-2 Everton

A point gained or two points dropped? Both; the former for us, and the latter for Everton.

Let’s face it, we were very lucky indeed, scraping a late draw on a day when nothing went right and few people covered themselves in glory. It was a bad day in the office, one to file away in the recesses of the mind. One to forget, and forget it we probably will unless it becomes one of those pivotal games that bookends the start of a great run (or heaven forbid, a bad one).

I know it’s easy to say with hindsight, but I had an uneasy feeling about this game all morning yesterday. Everton have emerged from their early season funk and it showed. They gave us a right fright. All we can hope for (now that we have played them home and away) is that they can maintain their improving form, because they’ve got some big games between now and late February, and we could do with them taking some points off our closest rivals.

Not that I’m really thinking of a title surge at this stage. I think, if anything, the fitful performance yesterday just reminded me – and a few others besides, I should imagine – that we remain something of an outside shot to win the league in May.

Despite some excellent recent form, and a very healthy league position, the bottom line is that there’s nowhere on the pitch we couldn’t improve. Between the sticks we have an increasingly skittish Almunia. Though he remains a good shot stopper – he prevented Vaughan from making it game over when we were 2-1 down – almost all other aspects of his game have gone to pot. He’s been dropped once this season, and I wouldn’t bet against it happening again. I appreciate the arguments against doing it – it’s pretty much a P45 – but his form is so poor it has to be considered.

In defence, we have a rookie left-back who has done well enough in Clichy’s and Gibbs’ absences but reminds us from time to time why he is our third choice left-back. The rest of our established back line is still motoring along, but needs to tighten up. We are always looking capable of conceding.

We’re missing important players in midfield in Fabregas and Song. We’re missing the pacy outlet that is Walcott. And of course, we’re missing Bendtner and van Persie, leaving us reliant on playing Arshavin out of position and Eduardo without a recognised strike partner.

Taken as a whole, and in that context, we are doing amazingly well at the moment, and it’s hardly a big surprise to see a blip such as yesterday against a very good and committed Everton side.

Of course, Wenger can work on the players he has, and he can hassle the physio to empty London Colney of crocks, but more importantly from a momentum point of view, he can work on bringing in new faces. At the beginning of the month I remember him saying he wanted to do any deals early; well here we are a third of the way through the window and there’s still nothing doing.

I’d frankly be amazed if nobody came in this month, and I was going to stick my neck out I’d say he’ll bring a maximum of two, and that those two would be a central defender and a striker.

As for who or when – over to you, boss.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.