This game showed exactly what both Everton and Arsenal are lacking within their squads. Everton were largely in charge of that game but gave up two cheapish goals in the last 10 minutes of the game. Arsenal were able to pull back two goals at the end, but for the other 80 minutes were Everton’s whipping boys.
At their best in this game, Everton were in complete and utter control. If they didn’t have possession, they were controlling what Arsenal were doing with the ball. This is the essence of the concept both Merseyside clubs have been playing with. Complete control. Their passing was incisive and cut the Arsenal defense apart with ease. This performance bodes really well for Everton this season. Unfortunately for them, however, their record signing, Romelu Lukaku, performed well under what is expected of him. Aside for the quality no look pass that assisted Naismith’s goal, he was largely invisible or ending promising attacks. Finally, Everton’s defense was solid the entire match, until the 83rd minute. That’s when they simply fell asleep. Ramsey ran onto a low cross into the box and tapped it in the back of the net. Giroud’s goal was a continuation of that, when he got on the end of a cross from the Arsenal left and headed it in the back of the net. Two quick goals for Arsenal and two lost points for Everton.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have continued to do very little to convince me that they are genuine title contenders. Both today and last week Arsenal have been lucky to escape with points. The Crystal Palace team they played were in the middle of a management crisis and have looked a shadow of themselves so far this season. Arsenal still managed to just beat them. It’s evident that Sanchez isn’t the magic wand player that many Arsenal fans had hoped he would be. I have never seen a top team in the EPL have such a soft center. There is a lot of quality in specific areas of the pitch for them, but still need a true midfield general and a strong defense. The lack of leaders in the team was evident as they were very quiet for most of the game. It wasn’t until the end of the game that Arsenal truly came alive. What looks promising for Arsenal is that they could play like that and still get a result out of the game.
All in all, it was a very telling game for both teams. After seeing Everton’s performance, especially, I wouldn’t be shocked if they really challenge Arsenal for 4th place this season and go a step further than last season and clinch 4th.
Man of the Match: Barry. Was omnipresent throughout the game and was incredibly important in keeping Arsenal quiet today. It’s no surprise that Arsenal started getting better as the game went on and his legs started to tire.
Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Coleman, Mirallas (Atsu, 85), Naismith, McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar (Osman, 10), Lukaku (McGeady, 76).
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Monreal, Chambers, Wilshere (Cazorla, 74), Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Campbell, 74), Ramsey, Flamini, Sanchez (Giroud, 45).
Goals: Coleman, 19; Naismith, 45; Ramsey, 83; Giroud, 90