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Arsenal held on to a hard fought 1-1 draw against a determined Everton side at Goodison Park in a Barclays Premier League mid-week clash on Wednesday, a game that witnessed a battle of attrition. Having taken the lead in as early as the first minute when winger Theo Walcott caught the Everton back line off guard and slotted home a deflected shot after a neat exchange of passes with Welshman Aaron Ramsey, the visitors were pegged back by a proactive Everton side that took the initiative from there on.
The Toffees were justly rewarded in the 28th minute of the game when target man Marouane Fellaini latched on to a misplaced pass from Bacary Sagna and found the back of the net with a precise left footed strike that found the bottom left hand corner, to level the scores. After the equalizer Arsenal had to survive a few anxious moments in the first half owing to some poor coordination in their defence.
The second half witnessed an intense physical duel in the middle of the park which the home side dominated but failed to capitalize on. Arsenal were on the defensive for most of the second half but managed to hold off a relentless Everton side that was probing in the final third. Arsenalâ€™s goalkeeper Wojicech Szczesny was the star of the game for the visitors as he pulled off a couple of very good saves to deny the home side and earn his a point. Arsenal managed to sneak in a couple goalscoring opportunities themselves but they werenâ€™t enough to break Evertonâ€™s resolve. (click here for the full match report)
T Howard : 6.5/10
The American was effective in goal for Toffees as he kept the Gunners at bay with solid display after having conceded an unstoppable deflected goal in the first minute.
P Jagielka: 5/10
The Englishman was part of an unsettled back four for Everton. After being caught napping on the right side of defence for the 1st minute Arsenal goal he recovered well enough not to let too many balls slip through.
T Hibbert: 5/10
The Everton centrehalf didnâ€™t have too much of an influence on the game after the first goal was scored.
S Distin: 6/10
The strong centrehalf came out with a decent showing in this high intensity fixture and also head a powerful goal bound header saved from Arsenalâ€™s no.1 Wojicech Szczesny.
Leighton Baines: 7/10
The England international, put in an effective display at Left Back for the hosts, orchestrating several moves from the left flank while defending his goal stoutly.
Steven Naismith: 6/10
Naismith slotted in at right side of mid-field for Everton and put in a decent showing to help cramp the visitors for most parts of the game before he was subbed off in the 62nd minute Bryan Oviedo.
Leon Osman: 7/10
The English international was solid in the centre of midfield for the hosts and put immense pressure on the Arsenal midfield by closing the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla down.
Darren Gibson 6/10:
The young holding midfielder too was reasonably effective in cramping the Arsenal midfield by pressing hard. He picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Theo Walcott in the first half.
Steven Pienaar: 7/10
Pienaar had a lively game on the left hand side of midfield and gave the visitors problems with some clever link up play with fullback Leighton Baines.
Marouane Fellaini: 8/10
Fellaini was the most influential player on the park, causing persistent problems for the Arsenal defense with his strength and arial ability. He showed a touch of class with his finish to provide his team with the equalizer and had a couple of other decent shots on target.
Nikica Jelavic: 6/10
The Croatian international linked up cleverly with Fellaini to put in a threatening display. He created a potential match-winning opportunity for himself by tricking Per Mertesacker but failed to convert with the finish.
Bryan Oviedo: 5/10
Having come on for Naismith in the 62nd minute, the Costa Rican was ineffective in his display. He couldnâ€™t create much from the midfield and also picked up a yellow card late in the game.
Thomas Hitzlperger: 5/10
The German too didnâ€™t impact the game much in his brief 17 minute stay, on for Gibson.
W Szczesny: 7/10
The Polish Goalkeeper was at his best for the Gunners on Wednesday keeping out a couple of good attempts on goal and reading the game well to cut short some menacing attacks.
P Mertesacker: 6/10
The big German had another solid game for the Gunners to back up his performance at Villa Park on Saturday. Although he was troubled by the likes of Fellaini and Jelavic throughout the game, he kept his composure and defended stoutly.
Laurent Koscielny: N/A
The French centre half was subbed due to a groin strain in the 4th minute of the game and hence didnâ€™t have a role to play in the match.
Thomas Vermaelen: 6/10
The Arsenal captain started at left back before replacing Koscielny at centre back and came out with a reasonably solid display for his side despite being put under pressure by the hostsâ€™ forward line.
Bacary Sagna: 4/10
The normally reliable Frenchman was poor on the day, giving the ball away cheaply on occasions and not offering much in attack from the right fullback position. He also had a major part to play in the Everton goal.
Mikel Arteta: 5/10
The Spaniard was uncharacteristically sloppy in the holding midfielder role on the night as he lost possession several times and had a part to play in the sloppy goal conceded.
Jack Wilshere: 6.5/10
The English prodigy showed signs of getting back to his old self after a long injury layoff. He was lively and dictated play for Arsenal from the centre of midfield.
Aaron Ramsey: 6/10
After starting brightly with an assist for Walcottâ€™s goal in the first minute, the Welshman faded off as the game progresses but still had a reasonable outing nevertheless.
Theo Walcott: 7/10
After scoring the opener for the Gunners, Walcott had a positive influence on Arsenalâ€™s attack, continuously being a threat with his pace.
S Cazorla: 3/10
In what was probably his most forgettable performance in an Arsenal shirt, the Spanish playmaker was completely ineffective in his display and was guilty of losing the ball several times.
O Giroud: 4/10
The big French centre forward couldnâ€™t influence the game much and was dispossessed quite a few times in attack.
K Gibbs: 4/10
The talented English fullback came on for Koscielny in just the 4th minute of the game but failed to create an impression, losing out on physical battles and offering little in attack.
Having come on in the 80th minute for Ramsey, Gervinho had a poor game and missed a golden opportunity to put the visitors ahead on the counter but missed it having mistimed his jump to a sharp cross from Olivier Giroud.
Francis Coquelin: N/A
Coquelin came on for Cazorla in the 90th minute and didnâ€™t have much role to play in the game.
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