Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks
This week in the EPL was one in which the Mighty Had Fallen. Everton conquered David Moyes’ Manchester United in mid-week. Stokes City defeated Chelsea. Manchester City was held to a tie by the aggressive Southampton. Tottenham prevailed over stumbling Sunderland. Liverpool’s scoring machine clobbered West Ham to remain in second place, five points behind leaders Arsenal.
Arsenal looked dazed in the first half as the well-coached Everton dominated possession. But Koscielny kept the dangerous Lukaku in check and Mertesacker kept closing the passing lanes.
Ross Barclay has emerged as the English find for the season and it would be madness for Roy Hudson, the English coach, not to include him in the squad to Brazil. Barclay is one of the reasons why Everton has emerged as one of the better teams in the League. They work hard for each other and the defenders have been stingy not allowing opponents to score too many goals.
The Everton defense was well tested against Arsenal as in the last minutes of the first half and for much of the second half of the ninety minutes, the Arsenal offensive machinery maneuvered into high gear.
In this peach of a soccer match, we saw the tactical brilliance of Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal coach, and Roberto Martinez, the Everton coach. It was clear to Wenger that Ramsey and Wilshere were fatigued and not at their best and he brought in Rosicky and Flamini in midfield and Walcott for Cazorla.
Those changes added potency to the Arsenal arsenal and it was a combination of Rosicky and Walcott that caused Ozil to enable Arsenal to score and to nail down the three points.
But Martinez was equally innovative when he introduced the promising Spanish-Barcelona forward, Gerard Deulofeu who caught the Arsenal defenders napping as he tried to score.
The spectacular nature of the contest was underscored when in the last seconds Giroud crashed a shot that came off the crossbar that Everton’s Tim Howard knew nothing about.
The 1-1 tie was a justified outcome as both teams displayed the art of the beautiful game. But what is clear is that Everton is not a pretender but a contender that has come of age.