EVERTON HAD THEIR sights set on the Champions League places and could gain vital ground on guests Arsenal if they were to beat them at Goodison Park this afternoon.
13.16 – Good afternoon dreamers and realists alike. Here are your line-ups:
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Naismith, Osman, Mirallas, Lukaku.
Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Barkley, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Deulofeu.
13.17 – Aaron Ramsey is back for Arsenal. My, how they have struggled without him. The Welshman is back but on the bench.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal, Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Viviano, Ramsey, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Kallstrom, Bellerin, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
13.22 – Here is the super Gerard Deulofeu goal that earned the Toffees a 1-1 draw at The Emirates earlier in the season. The Barcelona loanee starts today on the bench.
13.30 – EVERTON KICK-OFF
13.33 – 2 mins - Whiskers. Mere whiskers from Osman and he lets rip following a Coleman throw-in.
Source: Sky sports
13.36 – 4 mins - Podolski drags a shot wide from the edge of the box.
13.37 – 6 mins - Naismith can’t find Lukaku to spoil a two-on-one before Coleman has a shot blocked by Arteta. Osman clatters Sagna to get a yellow card, after he receives treatment for a cut to the face.
I did some fact-checking on Ramsey there, during that injury hold up. He scored eight goals and had six assists as Arsenal won gained 39 points from their opening 18 games. He has missed 14 games since late December and Arsenal have picked up 25 points out of a possible 42.
13.40 – 9 mins - Osman is not coming back. Barkley comes on in his place.
13.42 – 12 mins – Tim Howard’s American palms are stung for the first time.
13.44 – GOAL EVERTON! Everton 1-0 Arsenal (Naismith ’14)
13.46 – Here’s how it went down. Vital interception by Howard to slide in and stop Podolski from shooting into an empty Toffees net, following a bad back pass. Everton broke, Lukaku had a shot brilliantly saved by Naismith kept his cool and slotted in the rebound.
13.48 – 17 mins - Martinez is playing Lukaku on the right wing and Arsenal are in a quandry as to who is marking him. Naismith, playing more as a 10 than a straight out striker, is showing up all over the place.
13.51 – 20 mins - Naismith almost doubles the lead with a cheeky flick on a driven Seamus Coleman cross. Giroud them goes close after getting across his man and meeting a whipped in cross. The ball skitters wide though.
13.54 – 23 mins - Monreal whips in a cross but nobody is home (in the Everton box). Mirallas then has a low shot comfortably saved.
13.58 – 27 mins - The game settles into a steady rhythm before Cazorla pulls out the worst cross of the day — 10 yards behind two Arsenal teammates and straight to a blue shirt.
14.03 – 31 mins – Mirallas tests the Arsenal goalkeeper again and forces a fine, diving save to his left. Arsenal get their first corner of the game and Everton clear at the second time of asking.
14.06 – GOAL!! Everton 2-0 Arsenal (Lukaku ’34)
Mirallas finds the Belgian out on the right. He cuts in, drifts past two Gunners and slams in a low drive for his 13th goal of the season.
14.07 – Here is that belter from Romelu:
14.09 – 37 mins - Lukaku smacks another effort a yard wide and Bill Kenwright is a happy chairman in the stands. No goals again from the Chelsea strikers yesterday as their loan star troubles the net once again this week.
14.10 – 39 mins - Howard with a flying save after Podolski dips a beauty from the edge of the box. Arteta then spoons a cross into Row J and gets roundly heckled by his former fans.
14.14 – 43 mins - Three-on-two but Sagna snuffs out the threat. Flamini then gets a yellow card after hacking down Naismith. Just the 10 yellow cards for the season for the Frenchman.
14.18 – HALF-TIME
14.20 – Everton will be just a point behind Arsenal with a game in hand if the game finishes this way. That game is a home tie with Crystal Palace.
14.32 – Arsenal out on the pitch for the second-half. Everton making them wait.
14.34 – Arsenal KICK-OFF the second half
14.35 – 46 mins - Credit to Sky Sports for this factoid — Arsenal have not come from 2-0 down to win for two years. The last time they did, though, was a 5-2 win over Spurs.
14.38 – 49 mins - Arsenal probing around the box before Rosicky finally wangs in a cross that evades everyone. Dangerous enough though.
Alan Smith, a man who earned his corn getting on the end of crosses and passes, feels for Giroud as the Arsenal midfielders fawn over the ball for too long before finally getting a cross in. The French forward made three runs in the space of 60 seconds and the ball never came near him. Arsenal too ponderous.
14.41 – ‘How is our Seamus getting on?’
Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images
14.43 – 53 mins - Mirallas tries to pitch in and almost gifts Giroud a goal. He drifted back into the Everton box but was dispossed. Howard did well to smother his shot. Distin then injures himself blocking Flamini in the box after Stone was caught in possession out wide by Cazorla.
14.47 – 56 mins - Have not seen too much of McCarthy apart from his tidy contributions (in a lateral sense) in midfield. He clumps into Cazorla and is lucky to escape a caution.
14.51 – GOAL!!! Everton 3-0 Arsenal (Mirallas ’62)
The Belgian robs Sagna of possession in the Toffees half, drives forward and slides Naismith in. His shot is blocked and who is there to slide home the third? Mirallas.
14.53 – If you are a Gunner, watch and weep.
Source: Sky Sports
14.55 – 65 mins - Podolski and Flamini get lassoed off the pitch. Here come The Ox and Ramsey.
15.00 – 70 mins - Ah sure, why not. On comes Yaya Sanogo for Giroud. Lukaku almost makes it 4-0 but his header is saved AND he was offside.
15.05 – 75 mins - Seamus Coleman just made a mug out of Sagna with a sweet drag-back nut-meg. Stunning stuff.
BREAKING: Arsenal heads are in Arsenal hands in the away end.
15.06 – 76 mins - To improve his mood, that Mirallas goal is now being given as a Mikel Arteta own goal
15.09 – 79 mins - Arms firmly folded on the Gunners bench as Naismith is given a standing ovation. Aiden McGeady is on in his place.
15.12 – 83 mins - McCarthy chips a clearance off Cazorla to get his team a goal kick. Arsenal showing exactly zero fight this afternoon.
15.14 – 85 mins - Howard with an amazing save! Tips an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive off the crossbar.
15.15 – Here is that Coleman trick from earlier:
15.17 – Looking back, that is a different trick to his nutmeg. Pretty sweet anyway — and showboaty.
15.19 – 89 mins - Arsenal on the hunt for a consolation goal as Barkley cries foul on Arteta; says he used the elbow. Huge overreaction from the English midfielder but Arteta yellow carded so some justification there.
15.20 – 92 mins - A minute of injury time to play as Sky give Naismith man-of-the-match.
15.23 – Aha! Here is that Coleman trick. He megged Cazorla.
15.23 – 93 mins - Sanogo has the ball in the net but it is ruled offside. That is the final action of note.
15.24 – FULL-TIME
Full-time: Everton 3-0 Arsenal