After the typically Arsenalistic travails of recent weeks, the balm of a trip to the Goodison Park of Delights was a most welcome one. Everton are a proper club, unlike their red counterparts, whose fanbase is largely drawn from the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is often said that if you see someone in Liverpool in an Everton kit, they are most likely a native. If you see someone in a Liverpool kit, they are a Norwegian. The Toffees are seldom seen in the ‘full kit wanker’ garb of the Liverpool fan, who can be spotted strolling around shopping precincts in jersey, shorts, stockings and black formal shoes. The Evertonian is on the whole a goodly sort.
This pleasant and warm bearing is often reflected in their willingness to allow Arsenal to beat them at home, and this last weekend was no different. In a month of ‘mental tests’, no, let me correct that, a season of ‘mental tests’, no, let me correct that, a decade of ‘mental tests’, this ‘mental test’ was as testy and imponderable as the many other ‘mental tests’ placed before us.
This was confirmed by the manager, who believes we passed the ‘mental test’ by beating Everton (examiner’s verdict: Well done. A pass. B+). Surely at this level, or any level of professional sport, every game is a mental test, unless you are of the barely sentient type of player like Harry Kane or Ryan Shawcross? This result was certainly an improvement upon the ‘mental tests’ of West Brom away (examiner’s verdict: please retake this mental test, you have failed. D), Southampton away (examiner’s verdict: This retake is worse than your original attempt at this mental test, please try harder. D-), Chelsea at home in January (examiner’s verdict: This mental test should be one of the easier ones as Chelsea are trying hard to get relegated, you have failed. D), Manchester United in February (examiner’s verdict: As mental tests go, this is a minor prep school entrance exam. You have failed. D-). Swansea at home on March 2nd (examiner’s verdict: Mental tests really are not for you. D-). Watford at home (examiner’s verdict: Perhaps you’re just not suited to mental tests? E+).
But let the clockwork like failures of recent times, and the annual collapse, not cloud the enjoyment of what was a splendid match. It was an otherworldly experience, no? I mean the whole winning-the-game part? First one in FOUR GAMES? With passes reaching their intended destination? With invention and spunk in the final third? With drive and determination clearly evident? A brace of goals from attackers who seem to know how to attack?
Danielsan Arantes do Dat Guy Nascimento Santos Welvalho on the business end of a delightful 13 pass move, swerving round Joel Robles like he was a pile of vomit on the pavement Alexander Webbley, making his first start broke like a fox pursued by hounds onto Harry Bell’s sublime upstairs artillery down the right, holding off Ramiro Funes Mori as if he were an annoying cousin at a wedding and stuck one underneath the stones of Robles. “Webbley’s been at our club since the age of eight,” Windsor said. “I took the chap in training in pre-season and liked what he did and he’s improved very quickly.”
Mr. Martinez hilariously claimed after that match that they had missed Gareth Barry. For such a likeable, dignified cove he does come out with some awful bilge at times. You lost because you were beaten by a superior team, Roberto. It wasn’t Gareth Barry’s absence that precipitated your two shots on goal. Be like our manager, who blames pretty much any old balls up on ‘mental strength’.