I’ll get straight to the point today by answering the question I posed in the headline – this was certainly a point gained.
A dodgy performance in even dodgier weather conditions saw our boys in an unthinkable position as the game entered injury time. Steven Pienaar had put Everton 2-1 ahead a few minutes earlier and Denilson had gone off injured leaving our most purposeful attacking player – Abou Diaby – having his influence curbed by being forced to play the holding role in midfield. A disappointing defeat in the snow looked the only outcome.
But thrillingly our boys dug in and snatched a dramatic goal as Diaby’s instincts saw him gamble forward and he set up Tomas Rosicky. I don’t care what anyone says about the deflection of Lucas Neill, it was a sensational goal scored under stressful conditions and one of the best indications that this team have the character as well as the quality to win trophies.
It would be ignorant to avoid mentioning the negatives in this performance; once again Manuel Almunia was unconvincing, our defence was all over the place at times while our passing game struggled a bit with both Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song missing.
But it would be equally ignorant to have expected our boys to play their usual game in such ridiculous weather conditions. It’s not an excuse by any means, just a fact that when the weather is as bad as it was on Saturday it tends to level out sides of differing quality. It was clear that our pinpoint attacking style was simply less effective with the wind and snow swirling the way it was and it was only when the likes of Traore and Sagna started swinging in balls behind the defence that we started to look dangerous.
Despite the majority of our team having games to forget there were a few of players that stood out to me.
Diaby once again looked exceptionally dangerous and capped a threatening performance by setting up the second equaliser. Samir Nasri controlled the ball better than anyone in the snow while Andrey Arshavin had a good game despite many of his clever passes being just cut out by the defence. Meanwhile Sagna fought like a lion all game and Rosicky improved our midfield after coming on for Ramsey.
In short I will say again that I feel this was a point gained.
It wouldn’t have mattered which team in the league we played or which ground it was played on, it would have been an incredibly tough game to win in the conditions that ensued. That we managed to snatch a late point against an Everton team that worked so hard and handled the snowy weather so well is full credit to the determination and fighting qualities of this bunch of players.
You can look at the negatives all day long if you want but with Bolton away up next we’re just three points off the top and things are looking quite good indeed.
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