Three goals in 17 second half minutes put paid to Everton’s Wembley dreams
Everton’s long wait for a trophy will run into its 20th year after Roberto Martinez witnessed his team succumb to Arsenal’s superior firepower at the Emirates. While the scoreline may have somewhat flattered the Gunners, there can be no doubt Arsene Wenger’s men were ultimately worthy winners of this FA Cup sixth round clash.
Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal an early lead after a crucial slip from James McCarthy had allowed Cazorla the freedom to burst into space and perfectly feed the German to comfortably slot past Robles.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who had talked of Everton having to ‘be perfect’ to beat Arsenal, watched on helplessly as another individual error; this time from McCarthy’s midfield partner Gareth Barry, effectively put an end to the tie.
After Romelu Lukaku had drawn Everton level before the break, and with the game still firmly in the balance, the Manchester City loanee inexplicably hung out a lazy left leg which brought Alex Oxlain-Chamberlain crashing to the turf. Referee Mark Clattenburg showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Ex-Evertonian Mikel Arteta converted the penalty at the second time of asking after Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud was guilty of encroachment.
With Everton forced to chase the game, the French international struck twice in three minutes to give the hosts a winning margin that was harsh on the Toffees who had remained in the game for such a long period. And the outcome may well have been different if Ross Barkley had converted a glorious opportunity to give the Blues a 2-1 lead after good work from Lukaku.
The young England midfielder, who had been pivotal in Everton’s equaliser – after a lung bursting length-of-the-pitch run FA Cup sixth round: Everton's Ross Barkleyeventually led to Lukaku tapping into an empty Arsenal net – failed to hit the target from just inside the Arsenal penalty box.
With the chance spurned, Arsenal gained control of the game and once Barry had needlessly upended Oxlain-Chamberlain, this FA Cup tie had slipped away from Martinez’s Everton team.
Apart from a solitary effort from Barkley which had Fabianski scrambling to his right in the Arsenal goal, a leggy looking Everton could muster no more resistance as Arsenal exerted their superiority over the visitors.
While the Everton boss remained upbeat in his post-match interviews, the harsh reality of this FA Cup defeat will not be lost on the ambitious Martinez. The young Spaniard is an idealist and approaches every game with the same philosophy however, and more so than ever in the modern game, it is individual quality that will win matches and ultimately trophies.
As he made clear speaking earlier this week, Roberto Martinez is more than aware of how quality costs.
Yes, Martinez may have bucked the trend as he took his Wigan team all the way in last years FA Cup, but the victory over Manchester City was an exception to the rule.
Everton now have 11 crucial Premier League games left which, on paper at least, gives the Toffees a real chance of Europa League qualification.
Perhaps even more importantly, Martinez has to be allowed to focus his full attention on building a squad around his own footballing vision and principles. The perennial worry for the long suffering Everton supporters will once again be the lack of financial muscle afforded by the-powers-that-be at Goodison Park.
Without the significant backing of the manager this summer, the insufferable wait for Everton to end their trophy drought will undoubtedly continue.
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FA Cup sixth round: Everton Manager Roberto Martinez:
“I felt the key moment of the game was going to be the second goal and we had made it a real uncomfortable game for Arsenal.
“We had a great chance and, in nine out of 10 situations like that, Ross Barkley will hit the target.
“After that, we gambled a bit and the final scoreline does not reflect what happened in the game.”
“It’s hard to take but we lost a tie giving everything and trying to win.”
“The scoreline at the end doesn’t reflect what happened in the game. It shows what we have in the dressing room, trying to go forward right until the final whistle.
“We weren’t happy with the first goal and we need to be much better with our defensive duties. But once we steadied ourselves after the first 20 minutes we were where we wanted to be.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t score that second goal to put the game in our favour.”