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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05



Emirates Stadium | 9th January 2010 15:00

Arsenal v Everton - The Lowdown

So near, yet so far.

Brilliant Everton weathered a second-half blizzard and an Arsenal onslaught and looked to be heading for their first ever win at Emirates Stadium and first away at Arsenal since January 1996.

But two deflected goals - the second from Tomas Rosicky coming as late as the 92nd minute - cancelled out Leon Osman's opener and a wonderful chipped effort from Steven Pienaar.

Moyes made three changes to the side which defeated Carlisle United in the third round of the FA Cup. In came debutant Landon Donovan for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, while Phil Neville was moved to right back, allowing Leon Osman to replace Tony Hibbert. James Vaughan dropped to the bench for Louis Saha.

Leon Osman celebrates with his teammatesLeon Osman celebrates his opener

The Frenchman had the ball in the net just seven minutes in but after heading home at the second attempt, he was correctly adjudged to be offside.

Reluctant to give Arsenal centre backs Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas a moment's peace, Saha beat the offside trap two minutes later only to blaze his shot high and wide from the edge of the box.

The Blues were comfortably the better side though and when another Saha shot yielded a corner, Moyes' men took full advantage.

It came courtesy of a delightful delivery from the debutant Donovan but it was Osman who climbed highest to plant a collector's item of a header past Manuel Almunia and put the Blues in front.

The midfielder had done likewise at Emirates last season on an afternoon when a 3-1 defeat had been the final outcome for Moyes' men. Therefore Blues fans may have feared the worst when parity was restored 18 minutes before the break, in the most fortunate of circumstances.

Denilson's surging run had taken the ball to the edge of the Everton penalty box and when the Brazilian received it back from Eduardo, his first time effort deflected heavily off Osman, leaving Tim Howard rooted to the spot.

Landon Donovan tracks Andriy ArshavinLandon Donovan tracks Andriy Arshavin 

Coming against the run of play, the blow didn't seem to alter the momentum of the contest and Cahill may have laid on a tap-in for Saha or Donovan had Vermaelen not beaten the duo to his header across goal.

The diminutive American was impressing with his range of passing, Almunia unfortunately beating Cahill to one particularly menacing cross, another teeing up a lofted effort for Phil Neville which dropped the wrong side of the crossbar.

And while Arsenal started the second half the brighter, it was Donovan's jinking run, one which took him past Armand Traore and then Abou Diaby, which had the Evertonians inside Emirates on their feet seven minutes in. A one-two with Cahill created room for a shot but he couldn't bend the ball past the cluster of defenders who had recovered to defend the Gunners' goalmouth.

The second half also brought the snow and a reminder why this was the only three o'clock kick off in the Premier League to survive the freezing weather which has swept the nation this week.

On the pitch it was a rejuvenated Arsenal who continued to sweep towards the Everton goal, though on the only two occasions they found a way through a resolute Blues back line, Howard was quick off the mark to quell the danger.

Tim Howard produces a brave saveTim Howard produces a brave save

Wenger this week highlighted the danger of a fully fit Saha and the former Manchester United man continued to be a threat on the break. He may have restored Everton's lead had the deflection off Gallas, which carried his goalbound effort over Almunia, dropped two metres to the right.

With 25 minutes to go and the Emirates pitch turning white, Moyes turned to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, a man more accustomed to the adverse conditions. He replaced Donovan who will have warmed his manager with an industrious first outing on English soil.

A low cross which flashed across the face of Howard's goal had hearts in mouths temporarily, while Eduardo may have done better with a half volley which sailed clear of the crossbar.

Cahill then found himself alone in the penalty box after outmuscling Gallas but elected to try to pick out Vaughan, who had replaced the tiring Saha, when he may have been wiser to shoot.

Steven Pienaar and SagnaSteven Pienaar tries to bend the ball past Bacary Sagna

He made amends almost immediately however, sending Pienaar clear through on goal. The South African made a lung-busting dash towards Almunia and when the Spaniard emerged from his line he produced an inventive chip which left Arsenal's No 1 helpless.

The inevitable Arsenal siege followed, though it was Vaughan who had a golden opportunity to seal the win, only to shoot straight at Almunia. And just when the Blues looked to have rode the storm, the ball fell to Rosicky 10 yards out and his shot looped off the legs of Lucas Neill, leaving the unfortunate Howard stranded once more.



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