By Boris Mellor
May 5 2008
The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Lehmann, it was the end of an era as the giant German departed. The crowd cheered him to the echo and he bowed in appreciation. As the team walked around the stadium Fabregas, Hleb, and Flamini giggled and conspired like little school boys. Flamini managed a desultory sort of waving which was his way of saying, "after this I'm off to Milan".
By the time Arsenal fans had ordered their second drink in the bars and cafes of Highbury Flamini was in Italy.
Apart from Jens, no other player got that great a reception, although Fabregas did get a good reception before the match, when he accepted his young player of the year award. A season that had promised so much delivered so little.
This was not a match of high passion, Arsenal fans applauded the great grandchildren of Everton's Dixie Dean, and Toffees clapped Fabregas. It was all very cordial, a few Toffees even stayed to applaud Arsenal on their lap of disappointment, well done.
Wenger reported that Everton did not create very much, true, but then neither did Arsenal. For once in my life I was actually tempted to leave early at half time, I didn't, but I could see why some preferred a burger, however awful, to the fare on the pitch.
Without Fabregas the Arsenal team lacked imagination, penetration and direction, it was dire. One bright spot was that Ade and Bendtner are beginning to discover that the pitch is big enough for both of them. It does mean Nick drops deep, and does look lost at times, however he provided several crosses and passes that deserved better.
It was increasingly looking likely that Everton might even snatch a win when on 77 minutes Bendtner put an end to that Toffee dream. His bullet header, from Traore's excellent cross gave Howard no chance. It ensured that Arsenal's unbeaten at home in all competitions record endured for the whole season. It was the only highlight in the direst of matches; I can't remember a worse one at home.
Shall we dance?
However it was probably the outcome of a very unbalanced eleven, two defensive midfielders, two 6ft 5" strikers, and a defender on the wing. Walcott diminished in impact after 20 minutes, Ade and Nick hardly squandered a hatful of chances. The main bright spots were Traore, he actually looks like he can play on the wing, and Song who defended and attacked with gusto.
Now only Kolo and Gilberto remain from the Invincibles, and I am not so sure about Gilberto.