Arsenal 0 Everton 0 match report: Deadlock at the Emirates as both sides rue missed opportunity in battle for Champions League qualification

Neither side could break the deadlock at the Emirates

the Emirates Stadium

Watching from the stands at the Emirates, Sir Alex Ferguson will have recognised the difference that an assured goalscorer makes to a club with Arsenal's ambitions on a night such as this. He should know, after all. It was him who took the last great striker from this club.

When Arsenal really needed a centre-forward with ice in his veins in front of goal, they got Olivier Giroud. He is by no means a lost cause, 17 goals this season tells you that, but on an occasion when they needed to pinch a winner and take the three points, their French striker in the No 12 shirt was not quite up the standard required.

Not all Arsenal's failings go back to Giroud, far from it, but the chance he missed four minutes before half-time against Everton was one of those moments upon which seasons can turn. It might well be that Arsenal secure that Champions League place with ease, from their current position two points clear of Chelsea in fourth place having played two more games. Should that be the case then this result can safely be forgotten.

But if it transpires that Arsenal, serial qualifiers for the Champions League, miss out this time then it will be on the fine margins of games like this, and opportunities that went begging. At this stage of the season it matters little how you secure the points required; it matters just that you do so.

For David Moyes this was a good point although not enough to make his team, in sixth place on goal difference from Spurs, serious competitors for the Champions League places. His team had arguably the game's outstanding player in Phil Jagielka but they never created a better chance than the one that fell for Steven Pienaar in the sixth minute and was lifted over the bar.

In the aftermath it descended into point-scoring between the two managers in their respective press conferences. Moyes accused Arsene Wenger of complaining too much to the referee Neil Swarbrick and his fourth official Kevin Friend about the tackling of the away team. “Up north we do that quite often,” Moyes said. “That's actually allowed in football.”

As for Wenger, he claimed that some of Everton's play “went over the edge” and, rather more justifiably, pointed out that Darron Gibson could have been sent off for a second yellow card in the 34th minute. These are two men who harbour fairly entrenched views about the game and the way in which their teams approach it. Just for good measure there was also a half-time tunnel ruckus.

On that occasion, Kevin Mirallas craftily squirted water at Jack Wilshere as they left the field and the young Englishman reacted badly, requiring the intervention of Jagielka to stop the episode escalating. It was not the only time that the astute Everton defender put himself in the way of trouble.

The Everton captain was crucial in the early stages when his side were placed under the most pressure and which saw them close to the brink on at least one occasion. That was when Gibson, already booked for a foul on Theo Walcott, checked the Arsenal man in full flight and was very lucky not to receive a second yellow for his trouble.

Gibson's earlier booking had looked harsh but it was obvious from his immediate conciliatory reaction to the second foul that he knew he was very close to going off. The referee Swarbrick would undoubtedly have booked the Everton player had he not already done so and it was perhaps his guilty conscience that pricked him into booking Pienaar for an identical offence minutes later.

Both sides had one very good chance each in the first half from which they should have scored. Everton's came early, within six minutes, when Seamus Coleman's ball from the right found Pienaar's run through the centre - it might well have been intended for Victor Anichebe - but the Everton man put his shot over the bar.

While Arsenal had the better spells of possession they did not build a similarly promising position until four minutes before half-time. Then it was Aaron Ramsey who got away down the right and crossed perfectly for Giroud who slid in for the ball before Tim Howard could reach it. Having opened up the opportunity, he did not manage to keep the shot on target.

At that moment you would not have expected Arsenal to create better chances but Everton, to their great credit, never let them get as close again. In the 78th minute, the substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played in Giroud who made space around Jagielka for the shot. His effort was well over and Moyes later claimed the striker was offside anyway.

Moyes picked Ross Barkley, the 19-year-old academy product, in place of the injured Leon Osman in midfield, where the teenager showed some good touches, particularly a shot in the second half that was just off target. “We want to give the young boys a go if we can and promote them,” Moyes said. “It's hard in the Premier League when you've got something to play for, either at the bottom or the top.”

Arsenal started the half reasonably strongly with a shot from Santi Cazorla but in that opening stage up to the hour failed to bring the pressure to a critical point. They broke just after the hour with Walcott in full cry but nothing came of it. Kieran Gibbs had a chance to cut the ball back to Giroud shortly afterwards but the ever-vigilant Jagielka slid in to block the shot.

Wenger tried to shake his side up with around 20 minutes left, bringing on Lukas Podolski and A Oxlade-Chamberlain and the latter had a noticeable effect. It was his cross on 77 minutes that Coleman did extremely well to reach before Giroud, taking the pace off the ball.

After the game Moyes admitted that he would take fifth place and a spot in the Europa League next season if it was offered to him now. “I would take it, but I'm going to try and get Champions League,” he said. “If we're still getting that mention in mid-April, it's not bad for Everton.”

Not bad, but not good enough for Arsenal. Wenger, of course, still believes that his team will secure one of the Champions League places, but there can be no assurances for their supporters that it will be easy watching from now to the end of the season.

Man of the match Jagielka.

Match rating 5/10.

Referee N Swarbrick (Lancs).

Attendance 60,071.

Race for fourth: Remaining games

Arsenal Sat Fulham (a); 28 Apr Man Utd (h); 4 May QPR (a); 14 May Wigan (h); 19 May Newcastle (a)

Chelsea Wednesday Fulham (a); Sunday Liverpool (a); 28 Apr  Swansea (h); 5 May Man United (a);  8 May Tottenham (h); 11 May Aston Villa (a); 19 May Everton (h)  

Tottenham Sun Man City (h);  27 Apr Wigan (a); 4 May Southampton (h); 8 May Chelsea (a); 12 May Stoke (a); 19 May Sunderland (h) 

Everton Sat Sunderland (a); 27 Apr Fulham (h); 5 May Liverpool (a); 12 May West Ham (h); 19 May Chelsea (a)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future