|Olivier Giroud was back among the scorers against Everton|
Olivier Giroud was on the end of some ruthless comments after his display against Monaco; he continued to get in the right positions before proceeding to stick the ball wide or high of the target. Today was a different display though, it showed exactly why Wenger shows so much belief in his French striker and also why he's been in such good form for the majority of the season. My previous two blogs have showed varied viewpoints from myself on Giroud, both praising and criticising him. Against Palace I commented on his conversion rate improving which was hugely ironic after he played so poorly against Monaco. Today against Everton though he bounced back brilliantly and indeed showed why he's so important to this side, steering home well from a Mesut Ozil corner. He also showed great strength inside the penalty area and held the ball up well which lead to a few chances. That's not to say we don't need a top class striker that can do it all though.
Mesut Ozil was non-existent against Monaco, but like Giroud, he bounced back positively against Everton. At times he was carried through the game by Santi Cazorla who controlled the game nicely but the German managed to bag himself two assists. He of course supplied the corner from which Giroud scored, and then set up Rosicky as we sealed the points late on. Rosicky wasn't on for long but showed great willingness to involve himself in play. The finish did take a deflection but it capped off a lovely little cameo from the Czech midfielder. He could well play against QPR on Wednesday night.
David Ospina came under some scrutiny for his performance against Monaco and also against Crystal Palace slightly. He started off his Arsenal career in fine form after he replaced Szczesny almost two months ago now, but that form has begun to slightly peter out. He potentially could have tipped Carrasco's effort which led to a goal in the week wide of the post but like numerous other players he bounced back brilliantly against Everton and was one of our key players in the win. After Gabirel let the ball bounce instead of heading clear in the first half, Ospina managed to race out and deny Lukaku what probably would've been a goal. He also made another vital stop from Lukaku in the second half and was brave coming out of his goal to meet crosses.
Despite Gabriel Paulista having a shaky start to today's match he actually had a very good game in what was his first Premier League start. Arsene Wenger claimed that the reason Mertesacker was left out was due to the amount of games he's played this season, but after his display against Monaco you wouldn't excuse Wenger for leaving him out on that basis. Gabriel made a vital tackle in the first half to deny Lukaku before putting himself about well in the second half. His acquisition in January could prove vital, especially after our failure to sign a recognised centre half last summer cost us points during the early parts of the campaign.
Hector Bellerin also deserves a mention. He was dragged in far too much against Monaco and therefore left Martial with a lot of space but against Everton he was back to his usual best. What I like about him is if we lose the ball down that right hand side he's quickly snapping on the heels of the opposition to win the ball back. He has great determination and that's why he's quickly becoming a fan favourite.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was meanwhile at the heart of most our attacks. He marked his return from injury in the week with a goal and was a real bright spark down the right. Chamberlain's energy, drive and willingness to take on a man make him a very tricky player to deal with and he really does deserve more goals and assists to his name than he already has.
This part of the season is absolutely vital, and after QPR in the week we face Manchester United in the FA Cup; a huge clash.
The team's line-ups:
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin(89), Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain(82), Ozil, Sanchez(87), Giroud.
Subs: Szczesny, Mertesacker, Chambers(89), Monreal, Rosicky(82), Welbeck(87), Walcott.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Garbutt, McCarthy, Barry(84), Besic(76), Barkley, Mirallas(62), Lukaku.
Subs: Joel, Alcaraz, Osman, Gibson(84), Lennon(62), Naismith(76), Kone.
My man of the match: Olivier Giroud.
Referee: Andre Marriner.