Everton FanZoner Warren Doyle reflects on the fine display at Arsenal but rues the lack of important points dropped this season.
As 0-0 games go, Arsenal v Everton at the Emirates was one of the most entertaining. Everton proved they can dine at the Premier League's top table on their day and this was shown in a fantastic and resolute performance.
Some of the performances by players including Fellaini, Coleman and Jagielka were nothing short of outstanding; special mention also to young Ross Barkley who showed maturity with his performance.
Unfortunately, on the night, Everton could not secure the three points that would of propelled them right back in the thick of the top 4 contenders mix. Although it was always going to be very tough to do so, a win in North London would of made the challenge of achieving a Champions League position slightly less difficult.
Much has been said of the lack of financial muscle Everton have compared to Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal and the fact that we are even up threatening these teams has to be considered as a positive. If we go on finance alone, Everton should be nowhere near the top 10, let alone the the top six. However, Everton possess as good a squad as there has been in a generation and some may feel key games have cost us to be where we really want to and should have been this season.
The 2012/13 season will be looked back on and points dropped against the likes of Fulham, Norwich, Wigan, Reading and QPR away from home, as well as home games against Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich again will prove to be where the club have lost ground.
In these games Everton were expected to win but didn't. In some instances the opposition teams mentioned even came from behind and steal a draw or victory.
Every team in the league will look back at some point and say 'if only' but it feels more frustrating with Everton. Just two wins from the games mentioned would of seen us right in contention for top four.
Back to Arsenal. It was described as a must win and it was exactly that, but a draw is no disgrace. The feeling was Everton were the better side first half with Arsenal coming on stronger in the second half. Everton just lacked that killer instinct against a side of Arsenal's quality and without that true depth to the squad, they could not find that winning goal. That is taking nothing away from the players on the field who put in the effort and gave it their absolute all.
Looking ahead to the run in, it cannot be denied that Everton have a tough one. Although difficult, Everton will look at the home games against Fulham and West Ham as winnable. Looking at the away games is an altogether different prospect. Everton travel to a rejuvenated Sunderland next and then other away games include the Merseyside Derby and European Champions Chelsea.
It's certainly one of the most difficult finishes to a season, but Everton go into it in great form winning four out of the last six including four clean sheets. As an Evertonian, you live in hope and the hope is always there.
It is key Everton get into Europe and they still have a great chance. The season could still be a great one. Here is to an difficult but potentially exciting end of season, onwards and upwards.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum
By Warren Doyle, FanZone's Everton blogger.