Right call that Kane is able to play for the Under 21s

Remembering his roots: Kane's talent is just as impressive as his off-field demeanour

Remembering his roots: Kane’s on-field talent is just as impressive as his off-field demeanour

He’s the home-grown poster boy of FA chairman Greg Dyke’s movement to improve the fortunes of the English national side. But at 21 years old, Harry Kane is the late bloomer who sprung to prominence a mere four months ago, and now stands on the eve of his first England start against Italy in Turin.

“Kane will make his full debut from the start,” manager Roy Hodgson confirmed on Monday night. “Wayne Rooney will captain the team. It will be nice to see the two of them on the field together; they’ve been playing well in training. Harry certainly deserves his chance and it’s a great opportunity for players who haven’t been in the Qualifiers to show they deserve their place in the side.”

The 90,000 fans at Wembley who revelled in Kane’s instant impact against Lithuania on Friday unsurprisingly made the headlines – as scoring a mere 79 seconds into your international debut undoubtedly would – but faced with the task of out-muscling Giorgio Chiellini, out-foxing Gianluigi Buffon and feeding off a supply line filled with experimental choices will prove a far bigger test of Kane’s pedigree.

Tuesday night will nonetheless be a time of celebration, not just for Kane, but for all English footballers who have been farmed out into the relative wilderness of lower league football and seen their dream of one day emulating the likes of Charlton, Shearer and Rooney tarnished by a big-money arrival from abroad.

The level-headedness that comes with featuring prominently at Under-21 level greatly benefitted Frank Lampard and James Milner

The level-headedness that comes in featuring prominently at Under-21 level greatly benefitted James Milner and Frank Lampard

Kane has served his time more than most, wandering on his way from Leyton Orient to Millwall onto Norwich and then Leicester, before finally winding up back at White Hart Lane.

When England defeated Scotland at Celtic Park last November, the Chingford-born forward had registered just the one goal in a season that has now been defined by his meteoric ascent – and that will culminate with him leading the line for England Under-21s in the Czech Republic in June.

For now, he leads the country’s goalscoring charts, with 30 senior goals for club and country, and with Kevin Phillips’ record of being the last home-grown striker to receive the golden boot 15 years ago well in his sights.

And yet, as is the way with any feel-good generator surrounding the national game, there is a bubbling cauldron of fatalism in which to stir a club v country row and dissolve any powder of positivity.

Such is the modern game, Premier League clubs are now bound by post-season tours to places like Malaysia and Australia, and the Spurs star is contracted to be in attendance when his club entertain their global fan base close-up in May.

Indeed, 50,000 tickets have already been sold for the second of the proposed fixtures at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, many of which would have been bought on the basis of Kane’s inclusion.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino expressed his desire for the striker to have at least a month off, but there are less than three weeks following the Sydney FC fixture on May 30 and England Under-21s’ European Championship curtain raiser against Portugal on June18.

After England trained at Tottenham’s impressive training base in Enfield prior to the Lithuania formality, both Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate and Hodgson were given the perfect opportunity to iron out terms that would appease all parties, and that conversation may well have included the notion that utilizing the front man and playing in a meaningless friendly in Kuala Lumpur were in no way the same thing.

This is not to disrespect the club who pays his wages. Indeed, England have seen the wave of optimism that has infused a Spurs side that struggled at the start of the season, and have quite naturally decided they’d like a slice themselves, given the dearth of excitement aroused by such an easy European qualifying campaign.

Whilst Kane is very much now part of Hodgson’s plans, the benefits of being eligible to play tournament football this summer should not be ignored.

Former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland striker Tony Cascarino told Sky Sports about the positive knock-on effects of Southgate being able to call on the Premier League’s leading scorer.

“He could say to the rest of the players, ‘Harry Kane’s turned up. He’s chosen to play with us.’ Imagine the lift that gives to everyone else? All of a sudden, no one has the excuse they can pull out. It’s a great situation to be in, as he has a top player who can bring the group together.”

Kane, who scored eight goals in 10 games for the Under 21s in qualifying, would also gain invaluable tournament experience, such as learning how to handle the boredom of down-time in between fixtures, and the expected scrutiny of being one of the ‘stars to watch’ among fellow professionals of international class.

The Three Lions have a 100% record in qualifying for Euro 2016 in France and former Middlesbrough boss Southgate admits it is a luxury that England must take advantage of.

“Roy and I know that the seniors are in a good group position and he feels that the experience of going to the Czech Republic in the summer will be more beneficial to Harry than the two games he has got,” said Southgate, referring to the qualifier against Slovenia and friendly versus the Republic of Ireland in June.

“We still feel we can give the players the best possible preparation to go into the seniors and achieve success if they have got the experience of the European U21 Championship behind them. That is still the case with Harry.”

Playing for the Under-21s is often seen as a backward step for players who have received a senior call-up. Hodgson himself has gone on record to say that he prefers not to ‘relegate’ the younger members of his squad, for fear of how the disappointment would impede on the mind of a less experienced footballer.

Everton’s Ross Barkley is a case in point. The midfielder was discussed at length by Southgate and Hodgson prior to the most recent squad selections, and the pair decided to back the player to react positively from remaining in the senior squad, despite not being a regular at club level.

Barkley, who has declared himself an attacker and not a midfielder ahead of the Tuesday night clash in Turin, has not played for the juniors since August 2013, and Toffees boss Roberto Martinez is likely to be another manager on collision course with Southgate come the summer over the Spaniard’s insistence that the player needs a rest.

That the 21-year-old has cut a forlorn figure throughout the Merseyside club’s frustrating season is perhaps indicative of the insufficient rest period the Wavertree-born talent has had since the World Cup last summer in Brazil.

With this in mind, should Kane be used as a focal point in Southgate’s quest to build up a winning mentality within the so-called next generation of full internationals, it may come at the cost of burn-out for the Spurs man over the next 12 months, with the worst case scenario being that it affects England’s hopes in France come June 2016.

But the benefits of being part of a winning tournament are there for all to see. In 2009, Germany thrashed England 4-0 in the European Under-21 Championship Final in Malmo. It was the Germans first ever title success at that level, and in Horst Hrubesch’s side that day were no fewer than six future World Cup winners.

Six of Germany's winning U21 side in 2009 (asterisked) won the World Cup last year

Six of Germany’s winning U21 side in 2009 (asterisked) won the World Cup last year

Kane is not the only player who will have a decision to make this summer, with a host of players technically still able to be picked at Under-21 level. Should he play in the two lucrative friendlies for Spurs and lead England to the final in the Czech Republic, Kane will have played in 60 games since the start of this season, with less time to recuperate before it all starts again in August.

England could go all out to try and win this year's European Under-21 Championship

England could go all out to try and win this year’s European Under-21 Championship

Whether it is morally right for the squad involved in qualifying to be overhauled in preference of players with more Premier League experience is another matter, but Kane’s inclusion is important in reminding him, and his army of admirers, just how far he has come.

Harry Kane named in England squad for Lithuania and Italy tests

Harry Kane has scored 26 goals in all competitions for Spurs this season.

Harry Kane has scored 26 goals in all competitions for Spurs this season.

Roy Hodgson has named an strong squad for the forthcoming fixtures at home to Lithuania and away to Italy.

The England manager has named a 24-man squad with only two goalkeepers for the European Championship qualifier against the North European minnows preceding the trip to face the Azzurri at the end of this month.

But the stand-out line is that Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has been rewarded for his outstanding performances by being called up for the first time.

Hodgson explained the reason behind only two goalkeepers being in his squad, with Jack Butland being on stand-by. The move reiterates his stance on taking preparations for the European Under-21 Championship this summer seriously.

Staying put: Hodgson said he wasn't looking beyond the European Championships at present.

Staying put: Hodgson said he wasn’t looking beyond the European Championships at present.

‘The most interesting thing on the list is the absence of a third goalkeeper, but the under-21s have a game on Friday so we prefer Jack [Butland] to stay and play in that game. He will accompany us if anything happens in training or on Friday evening,’ Hodgson begun by telling the assembled media, before conversation quickly turned to Kane.

‘His rise has been fantastic since he broke into the Tottenham team. He’s done very well, and we’re delighted to welcome him into the fold. Like a number of players in our squad, they are young. We hope he can establish himself too.

‘We know a lot about him, not least through the under-21s when I had a look at him. We know what he can do on the football field, because he’s been doing it week-in and week-out for Tottenham.

‘I would disappointed if there was anyone on this list that I didn’t have confidence in, but there’s competition for places. The first thing when someone hasn’t been in the squad before is to break into that squad and show that you belong there. It’s not a case of ‘now I’m here, so now you step aside.’ I’m sure the players already in the squad won’t want to step aside.’

Hodgson said he was delighted to be able to call upon Daniel Sturridge again after injury and also reserved praise for the performance of Joe Hart in Manchester City’s 1-0 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday night, labelling him as ‘outstanding’, having stood up tall on numerous occasions in one-on-ones.

‘I’m very pleased for him, but obviously he’s the type of guy that won’t take much delight from his personal performance when he knows his team have gone out of the competition.’

England squad to face Lithuania on March 28 and Italy on March 31:

Joe Hart, Fraser Forster; Leighton Baines, Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Phil Jagielka; Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Andros Townsend,  Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck.

Barcelona make Manchester City suffer after another Messi masterclass

One-man mission: Lionel Messi has returned to his best form since losing out on the Ballon D'Or

One-man mission: Messi is back to his best after losing out on the Ballon D’Or

Barcelona 1-0 Manchester City (Rakitic 31″)

This was always going to be it for this Manchester City. Last year, Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and co sat on their haunches, beaten convincingly in Catalonia. They wondered whether their time would come again, if this watershed fixture would flicker once more, and barely 12 months later it did.

But one man ensured that the outcome would emphatically be the same. The margin of defeat may have been finer, but its manner made a mockery of any notion of progress. Many of these players will not see the light of a Champions League knock-out match again in a sky blue shirt.

Lionel Messi had given City a glimmer of hope in the last knockings of the first leg three weeks ago at the Etihad. His penalty miss made us wonder if the improbable was possible. Hart stood in his way then, and the England goalkeeper was magnificent again throughout.

Andres Iniesta promised to make City suffer in the build-up, and were it not for Hart they would certainly have inflicted another footballing lesson reflected in the scoreline. With the game already won, the England stopper denied all three of Barcelona’s triple threat – Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – from point-blank range.

Trailing on the night, Sergio Aguero had the chance to set up a grandstand finish, but his tame spot-kick was easily saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. It was the perfect height for the German keeper, but the 3-1 aggregate defeat over the two legs flattered Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Heroic in defeat: Joe Hart denied Barcelona on numerous occasions at the Camp Nou.

Heroic in defeat: Hart denied Messi on numerous occasions at the Camp Nou.

Once the home side found their rhythm, it was Neymar who delivered the first scare, the Brazilian somehow striking the inside of the post after Kompany loitered on the edge of his box and Dani Alves had picked his pocket. City rattled, Yaya Toure was next to pile pressure on his own back four, but Suarez failed to pick the right pass.

Then Messi leant the ball to Iniesta, the give-and-go left Kompany for dead, and stung the loins of Hart. On 16 minutes, Messi whipped a free-kick that landed just on the top of Hart’s net – he wasn’t getting there, such was the velocity of the strike.

City looked to respond, Aleksandar Kolarov shooting from afar but it was taken well into the stomach of Ter Stegen. The front three of Barcelona had no intention to defend. It pinned City’s full-backs from venturing too far forward, and ultimately resulted in Kolarov being booked for a cynical challenge on Messi after 26 minutes.

The diminutive brick of dynamite then impishly darted through Fernandinho as though his legs were cones, and Messi then drew a foul from David Silva when racing towards an isolated Martin Demichelis. This time, the free-kick was closer than before, but the outcome the same.

Luis Enrique’s side didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough however. Five minutes after Kolarov’s booking, the scandalous talent Messi hung on the Serbian’s shoulder waiting for the counter-attack, duly running at the defender once in possession before delivering a delicious pass to Ivan Rakitic over the head of Bacary Sagna, who’d been drawn inside by the run of Neymar. The Croatian had left Toure in his wake, subtlety taking the ball down on his chest before poking the ball over the onrushing Hart and under the bar.

Causing a racket: Ivan Rakitic managed to find a way past Hart on 31 minutes.

Causing a racket: Rakitic managed to find a way past Hart on 31 minutes.

Frustration was getting the better of City, and Samir Nasri was very lucky not to be sent off for hacking at Neymar’s ankles. The visitors needed to keep their discipline, knowing the need for two goals all along.

But the gulf in class was glaring.

Pep Guardiola was enjoying his return to the Camp Nou, left holding his face by Messi’s next nutmeg. Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville described James Milner being left on his backside as barbaric, as he sat cross-legged on the gantry.

Barcelona wanted the perfect goal. With Messi at the heart of everything, City were getting too close and then not close enough, allowing him space to pick out Neymar, but he chose to cut the ball back when bearing down on goal. Suarez was next to go close, as he ran through a gaping hole between Kompany and Demichelis to hit the post when released by Neymar on the stroke of half-time.

Jesus Navas was introduced for the cautioned Nasri at the interval, with Milner moved to a more advanced central role, as Pellegrini urged his players to press higher up the pitch, but whenever they found space to deliver a cross, the ball was met by the imperious Gerard Pique. Ter Stegen then took a risk, dwelling on the ball and losing it to Aguero, but his goal-bound shot was cleared comfortably by Pique again.

On the hour-mark, Suarez sliced a left-foot shot into the side netting, and it began a frantic spell as first City nearly equalized when Navas raced to the by-line but neither Kolarov nor Milner could make the necessary contact, and then Messi resumed his battle with Hart, being denied twice in a matter of minutes.

Alba had a goal correctly ruled out for offside, and Hart kept the deficit at one after Aguero’s weak penalty with 13 minutes left, which ended any life remaining in the English champions.

Plenty of Hart: the England goalkeeper thwarts Neymar at his feet on a busy night in Catalonia.

Plenty of Hart: the England keeper thwarts Neymar at his feet on a busy night.

Sobering night for Chelsea and Mourinho’s band of conspirators

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You would have thought Jose Mourinho’s insistence that his highly-paid stars would not be receiving a Champions League bonus for reaching the last eight was just another one of his mind-games.

The phantom £250,000 windfall per man was strongly denied, but the manner in which his side called upon their usual tricks in a botched attempt to win by whatever means belied an extra sweetener.

The over-riding emotion at full-time of this chaotic encounter was one of relief. Relief for the purists that the team who had played the more enterprising football had prevailed against the dark arts that have so often made an injustice of the sport.

It is on nights like this when you question scrapping the pointless flirting of the group stages all together. The resumption of Europe’s elite competition since the winter break had been underwhelming, but the past two evenings have thrown up as much drama as the entire fare prior to Christmas.

White flags were waved at the beaten but unbowed Champions League holders Real Madrid at the Bernabeu following a soul-searching 4-3 defeat on the night to Schalke, but the blue flag of Chelsea was draped at half-mast 24 hours later by the most sobering of defeats for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Victory would’ve been hollow and underserving for the self-proclaimed Special One. Failure to adapt to the conditions, deploying a risky strategy against 10 men on home soil, was never going to be enough against Laurent Blanc, a man under immense pressure himself to deliver at whatever cost.

It was a night of atonement that punctuated this impressive Paris Saint-Germain performance, as first David Luiz, so often the scourge of Stamford Bridge for his excitable and erratic defensive displays, returned to torment those who bulked at his £50 million price tag, delivering another dose of anguish for those whom he had given sleepless nights during his three-and-a-half spell at the club.

Then, having inexplicably handled in the box to gift Chelsea an unworthy escape route, Thiago Silva rose to land the killer blow with a header which looped above the giant frame of Thibaut Courtois, sinking Chelsea hearts on its way down into the net.

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Gary Cahill thought he had the tie won with ten minutes remaining of this ugly, unconvincing night for Chelsea, but despite Eden Hazard’s composed spot-kick six minutes into extra-time, Silva made amends for erring on the penalty to decide this titanic tussle on away goals.

The lethargy into which Jose Mourinho’s side sleepwalked following the wrongful dismissal of Zlatan Ibrahimovic 30 minutes into this feisty affair will have given renewed hope to Manchester City in the domestic race for supremacy.

The ejected Swede spoke of his disdain for the same man who gave him his record-equaling fourth red card in this competition three years ago when the then AC Milan player was beaten by Barcelona.

The Catalans benefitted from a contentious penalty awarded by Bjorn Kuipers then, but unlike on the many occasions Pep Guardiola utilised the extra man to his side’s advantage, it was the 11 men who found themselves on the back foot until Cahill struck.

Mourinho had never exited the Champions League in a two-legged tie having scored away from home in a drawn first leg. The Portuguese described his French opponents as ‘the most aggressive team’ his side has faced this season. It was the kind of swipe that stoked the fire for a feisty night in west London.

“[To draw 1-1 away in the first leg] against opponents with as much power, experience and ambition and pressure to succeed in this competition is a very dangerous result,” Mourinho said before the game. “This is the last 16 match between two of the best teams. One of the best teams will be out of the competition in a matter of hours.”

But his side lacked the grit, if not the guile, that has helped etch his name on this trophy twice in ten years. On the 37th birthday of Didier Drogba, his heir apparent to the throne Costa was tailor made for the fight. His knitted mitts resembling the wrapped knuckles beneath the gloves of a boxer. His were off.

But it was Paris Saint-Germain, wearing black armbands in memory of those who died tragically in a helicopter crash in Argentina this week, who fought with the more pride and incentive right from the first whistle.

Edinson Cavani forced an early corner, which Courtois juggled under the challenge of Luiz. The Brazilian, returning to the Bridge for the first time since his summer departure as part of a defence worth £100m in transfer fees alone, looked at home in the central defensive berth preferred over his midfield role in the Parc des Princes three weeks ago.

Chelsea looked to assert themselves, with passing focused down the left-flank where Eden Hazard menacingly lurked. It meant right-back Marquinhos would be in for a busy night. The Brazilian, linked with Manchester United in the winter, was late on Cesc Fabregas eight minutes in. Mourinho sprung from his technical area and the first howls went up, baying for the sight of yellow. No such handicap was forthcoming from Kuipers, who was in charge of the Blues’ Europa League final success last campaign, but the badgering would remain constant.

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The Ligue 1 side were next to appeal, Marco Verratti latching onto Javier Pastore’s delightfully lifted pass before throwing himself to the floor inside the Chelsea penalty box under pressure from Ramires. Kuipers spared his embarrassment keeping his cards in his pocket, but tempers were by now frayed.

It was the home side who were cast as counter-attackers, and only poor control from Oscar prevented a clear four on three scenario engendered straight from the hands of Courtois after a wasted Paris corner. Neither side were being given an inch by high defensive lines, with Ramires the next player to lack the required precision in returning a ball from Hazard back into the Belgian’s path when his preferred option Oscar stood in an offside position.

In truth, the game had seen little incident, and then Le Crunch. Ibrahimovic had hitherto been a nonchalant observer, but this was his only contribution of any note on another bleak evening for the Swede on English soil.

But it was Mourinho’s nine-strong band of irascible interlocutors once more swarming the referee which did for the talismanic forward.

The ball was there to be won, but it was Oscar who arrived first ahead of his assailant, poking the ball before appearing to clatter into the shins of the pony-tailed striker. But it was the force and angle of impact that Kuipers deemed worthy of a straight red card.

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Thiago Motta was cautioned in the ensuing uproar. The reaction of the Chelsea players was immediate and forceful, swarming the man in black. Only the Dutch official knows if he hadn’t received undue influence, but the sliding standards of referees in a Chelsea game was again the major talking point.

“It’s not a red card,” Jamie Carragher commented from the Sky Sports studio at half-time. “Oscar is as high as him, if not higher. The reaction of the Chelsea players is disgraceful.

“It’s not a one-off. It’s part of Jose Mourinho’s teams. I think his teams will always be respected, but they’ll never be loved. We see the reaction of players there and Mourinho’s words have worked.”

Graeme Souness added alongside him: “We had a great game of football going on. But it makes me really angry that gamesmanship is deciding really big games.

“I feel this has spoilt the game. Big games at this level are being decided by gamesmanship. If this is what the game’s come to, we need to sort it out quickly.”

A sense of injustice was felt on both sides of the Channel, however, as Costa was then clearly fouled inside the box by a trailing Cavani leg. Mourinho slunk back in his chair, feet up, self-assigned the role of victim once more.

The Portuguese would have ripped into his players at the interval, in a vain attempt to inject a modicum of urgency in his lacklustre charges.

Inhibited, and slightly leggy despite a weekend off, Chelsea had their noses bloodied ten minutes into the second period. Pastore incisively released Cavani with the kind of ball lacking in the hosts’ play all night, but after the Uruguayan had rounded Courtois, he smashed his shot against the near post from the tight angle and agonizingly across the goal-line with the net at his mercy.

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The miss acted as a warning sign which finally brought the home side to life, but while former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti stirred restlessly on the touchline in the dying embers of Tuesday night, Mourinho was given no such reprieve as his dream of a league and European double was ended in dramatic fashion.

Office blocks the true legacy of World Cup 2014, reveals Brazil Legend Romário

The Legacy of the World Cup: The Mane Garrincha will become an office block (Picture: Facebook/Romario Faria)

The Legacy of the World Cup: The Mane Garrincha will become an office block (Picture: Facebook/Romario Faria)

Eight months after the World Cup, we are starting to see the true legacy of the stadia erected for the showpiece tournament.

For Brasilia, the cost of being a host city at Brazil 2014 provoked protest at the time, and now the newly-elected governor of Distrito Federal Rodrigo Rollemberg is left to pick up the bill.

The Estadio Mané Garrincha (the National Stadium) was second only to Wembley as the world’s most expensive stadium when it was constructed at the cost of R$1.7 billion (£350 million), but former Brazilian footballer and current politician Romário has announced on his Facebook page that it will be converted into offices.

‘In order to reduce costs, Governor Rollemberg is going to house three government departments currently operating in rented buildings,’ Romário wrote on his official page. ‘Forty vacant rooms in the arena will be occupied by administrative organisations. This alternative will save R$10.5 million per year in rent.’

Maintenance of the stadium was costing taxpayers R$600,000 per month, and Romario lamented that the nation is now facing the problems foreseen before a World Cup ball was kicked.

The National Stadium became the most expensive bus depot in the world after Brazil 2014 (Picture: Getty)

The National Stadium became the most expensive bus depot in the world after Brazil 2014 (Picture: Getty)

‘We are now paying the cost of erecting stadia in many cities without tradition in football and without a plan after the World Cup. And in the case of the Mané Garrincha, the population is acutely paying the price.

‘[The decision to set up offices] was a good alternative, but far from ideal. A stadium should be kept for sporting purposes. Nevertheless, I hope that other governors also find solutions to reduce the damage caused to the public.’

The Estadio Mané Garrincha, which has not been filled to its 72,000 capacity since Brazil were beaten 3-0 by the Netherlands in the third/fourth-place play-off last July, has been used predominantly as a bus depot in the interim, with only two friendlies being held there in 2015.

Arsenal 2-0 Everton: Player ratings: Goals from Giroud and Rosicky lift Gunners

Lucky Toffee: Olivier Giroud has now scored his fourth goal in as many games against Everton.

Lucky Toffee: Olivier Giroud has now scored four goals in as many games against Everton.

Arsenal moved back to third in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Everton at the Emirates.

Olivier Giroud continued his excellent record against the Toffees with his swept opener, before Tomas Rosicky put the result beyond doubt with a late deflected second.

The victory comes as a timely boost for Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, lifting the gloom around this part of North London following Wednesday night’s shock defeat to Monaco.

Everton return to Merseyside with the familiar taste of defeat, having now gone 21 trips without victory over Arsenal.

Let’s assess the star performers.


David Ospina – fans favourite continued to look solid with his sweeper-keeper style. Barely put a foot wrong, rushing out to thwart Lukaku and then denying the same player and Lennon with smart second-half saves. Man of the match. 8

Kieran Gibbs – rarely troubled by Mirallas but not as productive in possession as Bellerin on the other flank. Still yet to make position his own from Nacho Monreal. 6

Laurent Koscielny – lucky to avoid booking for clattering into Barkley. Deservedly booked for taking out Lennon. Still licking the wounds of the Monaco defeat. 5

Gabriel Paulista – started shakily, dallying on the ball to allow Lukaku in on goal, but recovered from early error to make crucial saving tackle on Belgian striker. 6

Hector Bellerin – puts forward a more convincing case for breakthrough act of the season with each passing performance. As accomplished at the back as going forward. 7

Francis Coquelin – made an excellent clearing header from an early Everton set-piece. Assured in possession, took a nasty bash to the face in second-half. 7

Santi Cazorla – quiet first-half performance nearly burst into life with shot tipped over. Contributed to a gritty defensive showing, and may have scored with second-half rising effort. 6

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – was on the periphery of the game and was easily dispossessed at times as part of a cagey offensive performance prior to Rosicky’s settler. 5

Mesut Ozil – should have sealed victory but his finish was careless and easily snuffed out by Jagielka. Assisted Giroud’s opener. 6

Alexis Sanchez – picked out Giroud with pinpoint cross for striker’s early miss, and was more effective tracking back than going forward on quiet afternoon. 6

Olivier Giroud – missed from six yards in the first-half to add to his collection of misses against Monaco, but swept home opener as though none of it had ever happened. Out-muscled Jagielka at times. Booked. 7


Tomas Rosicky (on 82) – benefited from deflected strike to seal victory with his only meaningful contribution. 6

Danny Welbeck (on 87) – introduced too late to impose himself on the game. 5

Calum Chambers (on 89) – wasn’t troubled in his brief cameo. 5


Tim Howard – powerless to prevent Arsenal’s opener from first effort on his goal and left stranded for Rosicky’s shot by deflection off Jagielka. 6

Seamus Coleman – has looked more like his marauding self in recent weeks, and caused Gibbs problems down the right. Needs more from those in front of him. 7

John Stones – a typically composed return to the starting line-up following suspension in mid-week, but punished for allowing Giroud space for opener. 7

Phil Jagielka – captain marshalled his defence with typical assurance in first-half, throwing himself at Coquelin’s shot. Bit fortunate not to concede penalty with flailing arm, and lacked conviction in block attempt for Arsenal’s second. 6

Luke Garbutt – expert delivery from set-pieces set the tone for an accomplished performance debutising for injured Leighton Baines. One of few positives for visitors. 7

James McCarthy – screened the back four with typical tenacity, hunting with Besic and Barry to quickly win back possession. 6

Gareth Barry – was slow and tentative in possession against a side that was there for the taking in the first-half. Withdrawn as Everton looked to find way back into the game. 5

Muhamed Besic – worked tirelessly in a congested midfield, and looked to have benefitted from only being used sparingly against Young Boys in mid-week. Everton’s best player. 7

Ross Barkley – still searching for the moment that ignites his season. Sloppy and without his swagger despite being given license of to play higher up the pitch. Nearly assisted Lukaku in second-half but it was his only significant moment. 5

Kevin Mirallas – Went looking for work but was often crowded out by Arsenal’s high line. Wasteful and withdrawn on the hour-mark, his Toffees career looks to be slowly winding to an end. 4

Romelu Lukaku – lost his early duel with Ospina and looked isolated at times. Denied acrobatically by Colombian in second-half. Still lacking the consistency and decisiveness of a clinical finisher. How can such a big man be knocked off the ball so easily? 5


Aaron Lennon (on 62) – did everything he could with his chance to level but saw his sliding shot gathered by Ospina. More effective than Mirallas in half the time on the pitch. 6

Steven Naismith (on 77) – will have relished the opportunity to cause Arsenal’s defence problems in shaky opening by the home side. His introduction for Besic, whilst understandable, meant the side lost shape, however. 5

Darron Gibson (on 84) – put strong case for a starting berth with his brilliance on Thursday night, but his intended impact was swiftly extinguished by Arsenal’s second here. 5