Pushing to preserve a substantial unbeaten run in the league, Arsenal's main concern was with the role of full back. With the injury to Santos, it was Vermalen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, and Djourou, all center halves for a back line. Everton started brightly, challenging the hosts in the opening quarter hour. This was an important game, not only for commemorative purposes, but in its Premier League implications as well. The Gunners grew in confidence and soon took the game to the visitors. Walcott instigated nearly early good chance for Arsenal and his contribution to the game should not be understated. Early on, he received a good ball from Arteta and made haste down the right side. Sensing opportunity, the young Englishman crossed in for Ramsey and Gervinho but an intruding defending just managed to break up the play. Arsenal surged and it was Walcott leading the charge. Ramsey had a good crack at twenty-nine minutes and Gervinho tried his luck a moment after. Arsenal were moving in the right direction, but had little to show for their progress. Walcott would continue to break away and cross in for the remainder of the half, but it would finish scoreless.
The second half repeated the first as Walcott continued to pull from his limitless supply of crosses. Vermalen had a respectable long range effort, but it would take a bit of magic to best Tim Howard this afternoon. Everton were reduced to only breakaway efforts, but with each attempt the visitors looked more likely to score. The tension was building and at the hour mark Everton made a defensive substitution. Everton nearly scored, and almost immediately, but a patient Arsenal were able to keep calm and carry on. Koscielny found Song who lifted a searching long ball downfield. And finally...that bit of magic had come. In a graceful sweep, Robin Van Persie volleyed and majestically sent the ball sailing, unstoppable, into the lower right corner of the net. The Arsenal skipper has had his fair share of wonder goals this season, (only one shy of the club's calendar year record by the way) but this was something special. It was a top-drawer finish from a world-class striker on a momentous occasion in celebration of 125 years of glorious football. Credit to Everton, restraining themselves from taking to the locker room at that moment. This match was struggle but that goal certainly sapped the fight from a previously dogged opponent. And that jewel of a goal was enough to see Arsenal through and enough to break into the top four of the EPL. It was a great day for the club, and a memorable milestone for Arsenal fans far and wide.
|A great day and a great goal!|
Oh, and a Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom today too!