Ten Thoughts: Everton 2-5 Arsenal AND Arsenal 2-1 Norwich City (AET)

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1. Before we get to the new wunderkind du jour (I mix metaphors in mixed languages - beat that, professional writers!), we'll address the Everton match (AKA the one I actually saw). I hadn't had the chance to watch them yet before last weekend, though I had heard rumors about how unbelievably shit they were. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. The fact that we went down to this lot after 10 straight minutes of carving them open for fun was annoying, but it was the sort of thing that didn't cause an undue amount of worry if you know this game. I remember saying at halftime "Give us another half like that and we'll massacre them". As we saw, that turned out to be prophetic.

Some will say that it's harsh that Ronald Koeman has been sacked already, and as long-time readers know, I am usually the first to defend managers from what I think is a batshit culture of short-termism from club chairmen. However, in this case, the coroner would file this under suicide. Just look at this lot. LOOK at them. A shambles defensively, poor old Jordan Pickford flying around this way and that in an often vain attempt to cover for the guys in front of him. Meanwhile, up the other end, they bought a small country's worth of natural No. 10s, to the point where a combined brain of Herbert Chapman and Stephen Hawking couldn't work out how to get them effectively into the same team, let alone this smug chancer who had one eye on Barcelona for his entire Everton tenure anyway. They're currently in the relegation zone, and frankly, better sides than them have found themselves hurtling through the trap door to the Championship.

It'd be a shame to see them go, much like it was when Aston Villa dropped down, and Newcastle United before them. An old man like me gets used to seeing the same clubs season in and season out, especially those of that size. But, if the Toffees do find themselves away at Brentford and Bolton next season, they'll only have themselves to blame. Oh, and the aforementioned smug Dutch chancer.

2. Like I said, we were all over them before they scored. Pickford had to bail his side out as early as the 2nd minute, and then a few more times for good measure in the interim. Then, as we've done so often before, one mistake gets ruthlessly punished. Wayne Rooney is naturally not what he once was, but people acting like he's a Conference-level jabroni are a shade off the mark. Put him where he can do damage, and that's what he'll do. He always has been adept at using a defender to screen their own keeper, and he did so masterfully against Per Mertesacker here. The BFG was much too passive on the play though, and we paid for it.

The usual banshee-screechers were probably having a field day right around this point, but there was never any evidence as the rest of the half went on that they'd build off of that and put us in danger. It was always a glitch in the Matrix, nothing more.

Still, the bit that did stick in the craw more than anything else was the fact that Everton got that chance in the first place because Granit Xhaka got his pocket picked in the middle of the park. Again. I do absolutely insist that he will fully come good this season, but the man needs to pull his finger out and find a level of consistency before he loses his place to Jack Wilshere for good.

3. Later on in the match, Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a second bookable offense - both were silly fouls, and he had to go. But, the Toffees were damn lucky that Ashley Williams (a sneakily-dirty little player himself) didn't make the long walk himself in the first half for the same reason. Frankly, I thought Craig Pawson was wrong there, but in fairness to him he was fine overall.

Some measure of karma arrived soon after though, ensuring that our boys went into the interval back on level terms. Alexis Sanchez didn't stamp his authority on the first stanza, but he did take the shot that started the passage of play leading up to our goal. That was blocked, it came out to Xhaka, who let fly from distance. A few pundits have slated Pickford for his rebound control there, but he had to go back across the grain to make a fabulous save after the ball had deflected off a defender's leg. He pushed it out to the side, which is all you can ask of your keeper there. Sometimes, you just have horseshit luck and an attacker is in that exact spot to clean up. Luckily for us, it was Nacho Monreal, who made no mistake in tucking the rebound past Pickford at his near post.

For the record, this is also a case that disproves the idiotic notion that a keeper should never be beat there. I try and stay away from "always" and "never" when talking about this game anyway, but that's one that drives me up a goddamn wall.

Good goal, scored at a perfect time.

4. The second wasn't too long in arriving after the restart, and it shouldn't be that surprising. Here's the thing, folks. As I recall, a really smart person wrote this just last week in the Red Star Belgrade report here at this canteen:

The other thing is, we haven't had a situation yet (I don't believe) where Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Wilshere were all playing. That's our best team, by miles, and it's absolutely a case where I believe the sum would be far greater than the parts. People will talk all kinds of nonsense about some of them, especially Ozil, but put them all together and let's see what they do.

Jacky Boy wasn't playing, but once the rest of those lads got going in the second half, it was a joy to watch. The passing and movement off the ball, even at times in the first half, were as dangerous as they've been all season. They were...gasp...moving *forward*! They took shots from distance! They tore a bad team apart, embarrassingly so at times, but you can only play what's in front of you.

Before I pull a muscle patting myself on the back, I will say that I didn't see "Ozil bullet header goal" anywhere in our future, that's for damn sure. But, there he was, smashing the unholy hell out of one over Pickford's dive and into the roof of the net. You can tell he enjoyed that one, too. We'll worry about next season when it gets closer to the time - for now, his importance to the team can't be overstated.

Hell of an assist from Alexis, too. But no, sure, let's sell them both in January. Capital bloody idea.

5. There were a couple of half-chances before Gueye's sending-off, but don't believe the narrative that the match only really got away from Everton once he walked. There were 20 more minutes left, we'd have bagged one or two more anyway, no question.

They were hilariously abject once they were down to 10, though. Gueye peaced out at 70 minutes, and Pickford was picking the ball out of his net on 73. It was simple enough - an attack down the left, a pull-back to Lacazette on the edge of the area, and a dead-eye finish from there. Seriously, my dude simply doesn't miss if you give him time and space in that part of the field. Oh, and by the way? That play was Alexis-to-Ozil-to-Laca. I'm telling you, shit's going to get real now if they all stay healthy.

6. I've seen some wacky 5-10 minute passages of play before, but my god, this one was right up there. From 84 minutes, we saw:

84' - Xhaka hits the bar.
85' - Wilshere, on as a sub, rounds Pickford but can't find the right ball to capitalize.
86' - Laurent Koscielny is booked.
90' - Wilshere does well to play in Aaron Ramsey, who makes no mistake from close range. 4-1.
93' - Monreal hits a dreadful back-pass to Petr Cech, who tries some sort of fancy clearance instead of hacking it into touch. Oumar Niasse picks his pocket and taps into the empty net. 4-2.
94' - Alexis takes advantage of horrid ball-watching from the Everton back line to slot home across the grain into the far corner. 5-2.

7. On to the League Cup and a home date with Norwich City, then. Full disclosure: I didn't get a chance to see this one. I've only seen the three goals, but there were apparently some talking points beyond that. I've read some bits about Mohamed Elneny apparently being lucky to stay on the field, and that the Canaries had a penalty shout turned down. Well, boo fucking hoo. Their goal would have never happened if the referee had blown for a foul when Alex Iwobi was scythed down in front of his eyes, maybe 6-7 yards away. Instead, James Maddison played in Josh Murphy with an inch-perfect through-ball that split our defense. Matt Macey, the young keeper making his first-team debut for us, rushed off his line, but got himself caught in no-man's land, allowing their man to chip him.

It's the sort of thing that, when you play an inexperienced keeper, you're going to have to deal with from time to time. What you're really looking to do is to time your run out so that you've closed the space between you and the shooter before they can make a move around you or chip you - as happened here. It's not easy. Maybe he'll learn, but more likely, he'll be turning out for Shrewsbury or Stockport in a year or two. No shame in that - not everyone can play for a top club.

8. For 85 minutes, that's all there was to trouble the scoreboard. At some point, that's the price you have to pay for rotating as heavily as we have...though that is exactly what we should be doing in this competition. It's the League Cup. We have much more pressing concerns this season, moreso this time around more than ever. Had we lost this, I would have been annoyed for roughly a tenth of a nansecond before getting over it and worrying about more important things - such as literally anything else, for example.

As it stands, we're in the last eight, and the kids get to play another game. And, even though it is a quarterfinal, it is the kids who should indeed play. Let's be real. Both Manchester clubs are still in this thing, and it's likely that Chelsea and the Nearest/Dearest should be after tomorrow. Maybe we get lucky, get Bristol City, and a few of these knock each other out. We get to a semifinal, and maybe it's a different story. Until then, this is a periphery concern and no more.

9. We're only having this conversation though thanks to one Eddie Nketiah. There hasn't been a properly ridiculous Roy of the Rovers moment in football recently that I can recall, but it's safe to say that this qualifies. I mean, are you serious? Local boy that we plucked from Chelsea at 14 years of age (Sidebar: HAHAHAHAHA you dumb fucks) comes on for his debut and scores less than 30 seconds later? Then does it again in extra time to win the tie? Come ON. If this were a movie, we'd all talk about how hackneyed it all is.

Both were off of set pieces, which makes it that much sweeter given our usual struggles scoring from those. The first corner kick slithered its way through several defenders to the back post, where Eddie was there to tap it home. Maddison was his marker and was marshmallow soft on it, but no complaints in that regard here. The kid went mental, as you'd imagine. What a moment. If you can find something to moan about there, I have serious questions as to the whereabouts of your soul.

The second was even better, though again, you have to ask questions about the defending once more. It was another corner, and maybe you can ask questions of their young keeper Angus Gunn for not coming out to claim. But, there were maybe five yellow shirts in close proximity, any of whom can and should have dealt with the set piece. Instead, Eddie rose highest to thump a cracking header into the top corner. What a goal. What a night for the kid.

But, let's not anoint this kid the new Ian Wright yet. Let's not fling torches at the manager if he's not in the XI against Swansea City at the weekend (and he won't be). Maybe we've forgotten about the Carlos Vela wondergoal against Sheffield United, or any of the zillions of other League Cup performances from kids who have since moved on. I'm not saying that Eddie has no chance, but one day at a time, one step at a time.

One other thing: This kid was born in 1999. Nineteen-fucking-ninety-nine. I feel so old. So very, very, very old.

10. Not a bad couple of days, huh? Five goals past Everton, last 8 of the League Cup. A reeling Swansea City come the weekend.

Of course, knowing us, we'll crap the bed against the Swans and then get tonked by Man City. Either way, I'm going to enjoy this for now. It's all you can do, really.