Toffees give Wenger something to chew on during the transfer window

Dashing into the space, Andrey Arshavin scooped the ball with him while keeping the wobbly Lucas Neil unsighted, burst down the right wing and edged closer to the Everton goal with neat touches. All the time, Neil flagging and clawing at the Russian road-runner, unable to keep up with his pace and well out of depths as Arshavin worked his magic in fields of freedom.
The move ended up being blocked by re-covering Everton players after a shot from the acutest of angles. It was the 80th minute and the first time Arshavin had made a real mark on the match. The crowd had almost forgotten the little wizard was playing, but left drooling at the mechanisms of his game, although it came to little to late.
At 5 ft 6” Arshavin is one of the smallest players in the Premiership, but this is his deadliest instrument. His other apparatus is speed, and combining to two makes it difficult for the modern day defender, who is raised to pull at shirts. So when Arshavin gathers the ball with space to manoeuvre he is the best in the league and on days Arsenal’s most effective player. Yesterday, none of this was possible playing centrally, a growing trend that takes little intelligence to see is a failing idea on Wenger’s part.
Minutes earlier, Tim Cahill pulled off a similar stunt, cutting in from wide. Both had used their slight frames well. Despite the move ending up fruitless, there was a clear difference compared to Arshavin’s later creativity. Cahill found support from two blue bodies in the box. For Arshavin, there wasn’t a red shirt to be found.
Two things were summed up in the passage of play. Firstly, Arshavin is most effective wide but practically anonymous wedged between two stately centre-backs and Marouane Fellaini, who need only wiggle his hips to send Arshavin flying. Secondly, Arsenal still haven’t replaced Robin Van Persie with a striker inbuilt with the same instincts to sniff out opportunities such as the one Arshavin so neatly arranged.
To find no support after such creativity was almost illegal according to Arsenal law. Throughout the game there had been – for a change – a selection of vexatious crosses, all threatening but predictable in their blank outcome. In all, it raised the biting question yet again: when will Arsene Wenger buy a forward?
Ok, Arsenal had injuries and absentees across the pitch, yet so did Everton, alongside Arsenal one of the most broken-down squads in the league. Mikel Arteta, the Fabgregas to their midfield remains injured as does England border-line player Phil Jagielka, and both Joseph Yobo and Ayegbeni Yakubu are currently on duty at the African Cup of Nations.
In order for Everton to compete though, David Moyes has released the purse strings and yesterday it came good against Arsenal. Landon Donovan, a 10-week loan signing from LA Galaxy is the Scotsman’s latest, and for a debut the American international was outstanding. Johnny Heitinga and their own Russian dinamo, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, have also added depth.
Yes, you can argue that Arsenal’s fringe players are equal to some of Everton’s first-teamers and so why compare the two when it‘s clear the Toffees would probably welcome the likes of Mikael Silvestre, Carlos Vela and Fran Merida, three of Arsenal subs yesterday?
Well, both teams have different ambitions for the season and while David Moyes must bring in short-term buys to finish in the top-half (maybe avoid relegation) Arsenal must invest in the same manner to accomplish their intentions; winning the Premier League.
Denilson could be another out with a suspected lung injury, and with the way William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen fly into tackles, is it long before Arsenal are scratching around for a centre-back? Then there is the goalkeeping grey area. Manuel Almunia was out of sorts again yesterday, at one point clattering into Armand Traore who had covered a threatening through-ball nicely.
Traore never had the best game himself, nor did the defence as a whole – let’s not forget Arsenal had kept three cleans sheets in a row at the Emirates before this game conceding less than one a game – but Traore is 20 years old and Arsenal’s third choice left-back; Almunia is the number one and apparently the best Wenger has.
David Moyes has set a platform for Wenger and chose the Emirates stage as an opening day to showcase how effective January transfers, even loan signings, can be. There isn’t much that separates this draw from recent Arsenal victories which have been won playing in much the same manner. In hindsight, a draw (so nearly a loss) was just around the corner and the best thing Everton could have done, was to give Wenger something to chew on in the transfer window.

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