Landon Donovan, on loan to Everton for two months, went straight into the starting 11 today, as the Toffees took on mighty Arsenal in North London. As Southern California boy through-and-through, Donovan might have wondered about the wisdom of a winter move to England. The match was played during snow fall, as weather conditions forced the postponement of all but two Premier League matches today.
Donovan was unfazed though. In the words of the Everton website Toffeeweb, he “showed some really nice touches and a pleasing willingness to run at defenders” from his position on the right side of midfield. In addition, it was his corner kick that lilttle Leon Osman headed for a goal to give Everton a 1-0. None of this will surprise American fans who have followed Donovan over the years.
Donovan was replaced after 68 minutes with the score tied 1-1. He received a good ovation from the Everton faithful and congratulations from manager David Moyes. Soccernet columnist Kevin Palmer praises Donovan’s performance here.
Everton regained the lead after Donovan’s departure only for Arsenal to gain a draw at the death of the match on a deflected shot. In fact, both of Arsenal’s goals came on deflections.
So Everton was denied what would have been a famous victory. But we’re definitely playing better now, and have moved fairly well clear of the relegation zone. Considering Arsenal’s qualilty — they defeated us 6-1 at home in the opening match of the season — it’s difficult to be too disappointed in a 2-2 draw at their place.
As for Donovan, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t shine in the Premier League. In my opinion, he possesses world-class quality and is a better player than Clint Dempsey, who excels for Fulham. However, making a mark at this level can be a hit-or-miss thing, and Donovan will only have a short period of time to do so before he returns to Los Angeles for the MLS season.
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