Arsenal vs. Everton: 6 Things We Learned
The scoreline flatters the Gunners a bit, but they were aggressive when they needed to be and took their chances well. Two goals from Olivier Giroud off the bench and one each from Mesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta finished Everton off at just the right moments.
As Arsenal prepare to travel across town to face Wigan Athletic, let's look at six things we learned from the match.
Ozil the Redeemer
Mesut Ozil has been the subject of intense criticism for months, with fans pointedly wondering how such an expensive and highly regarded player could be so lackadaisical and ineffectual so often.
Well, we know how much quality the German has, and though one game does not make a trend, he appears to be back on form after a scintillating display against Everton.
His goal and assist to Olivier Giroud, as well as his willingness to get involved in every area of the pitch, allowed him to be the focal point of Arsenal's attack and the team's main weapon.
Giroud the Redeemer
Similarly, Olivier Giroud is one of Arsenal's most divisive players, if not the most divisive.
Sometimes, his movement off the ball seems effective and intelligent. At other times, he seems unimaginative and disinterested. Sometimes, his finishing touch is imprecise, and at other times, he displays superb technical quality.
Giroud is a streaky player who finds purple patches and flatters to deceive.
Against Everton, at least, he put in an excellent shift, finding little pockets of space and clinically putting the ball past Joel Robles twice in a short span. One wonders why he has not been able to replicate this form for longer stretches, but then again, he does have 18 goals and eight assists on the season.
Arsenal Have Character
Perhaps another Arsenal team would not have responded to their humiliating and title-dream-ending 1-0 loss to Stoke last weekend by flying out of the tunnel against a side as good as Everton.
And even if they did, would they have been able to pick themselves up after conceding an equalizer in an elimination game to smash the opponent by a three-goal margin?
Perhaps, but this Arsenal side is obviously capable of doing so. They have been rightly criticized for merely edging past teams instead of throttling them, but there can be no such qualms after the ruthless display that the fans at the Emirates witnessed on Saturday.
Arsenal's Right Side Was Superb
To make the above more specific, Arsene Wenger needs to do two things before now and the end of the season: Start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in every game when he is available and fit and lock down Bacary Sagna to a new contract.
The Ox provides the Gunners' only speedy option in the absence of Theo Walcott, and both his forward drive and relentless creativity are invaluable.
Sagna, meanwhile, is as good as he has ever been and is locking down the right flank. Forget Carl Jenkinson; there is no one Arsenal could reasonably purchase who would provide the same quality and consistency of Sagna. Pay him what he wants and sign him up.
Lukasz Fabianski Should Do Well Against Bayern
Wojciech Szczesny will be suspended for Arsenal's trip to Bayern Munich in midweek, so Arsene Wenger's decision to give Lukasz Fabianski some game time in the FA Cup was both timely and logical.
Fabianski showed once again that he is worthy of being first choice at a Champions League club. Whichever team picks him up on a free transfer this summer will be pleased with the decision.
Once again, he commanded his area and was alert enough to make crucial saves at important junctures in the game. He will have to be just as good, if not better, against Bayern, but there is every reason to believe he can be.
Arsenal Have Done the Hard Work Already
Arsenal received arguably the hardest draw of any team in the FA Cup so far. Yet they have overcome Tottenham, Liverpool and now Everton when they could have faced many worse teams.
Now Wigan Athletic, the darlings of the cup since last season, have slain mighty Manchester City and will face Arsenal in the semifinal at Wembley. If Arsenal advance to the final, they will play either Hull or Sheffield United.
As Wigan's shocking defeat of City shows, anything can happen in this unpredictable and exciting competition. But Arsenal are now clear favorites to win their first piece of silverware in nine years.