Result: Everton 1 – 0 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 7 April 2019
Venue: Goodison Park
Arsenal: Leno, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Mailtland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Kolasinac, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Suarez, Iwobi, Aubameyang
It was another limp away game display by Arsenal as they went down 1-0 to Everton. Phil Jagielka scored 10 minutes in thanks to poor defending from a long throw in. The Gunners never got their groove on for the entire game.
With this result, Arsenal slumped back to fourth place as the team were dealt a blow in their attempts to solidify their place in a Champions League spot.
Arsenal’s chase for the top four saw the team heading to Goodison Park to play in the first of five challenging away games in the run in to the end of the season.
The most notable changes since the Newcastle game came in the form of Ozil, who started his fifth away game in 14 matches, and a rare outing for Elneny who replaced Ramsey and Torreira due to injury precaution and suspension respectively.
It was a positive start for the Gunners as Mkhitaryan won the ball in midfield within the first couple of minutes and put Lacazette on goal only to have his attempt go just wide. Ozil kept the ball in play and his cutback was thwarted by Everton’s defenders with Mkhitaryan waiting for a tap in.
However, Everton recovered quickly and soon cranked up the pressure on Arsenal, eventually scoring in the 10th minute. Digne lobbed in a throw in right into the mixer and Arsenal were passing in defending the long throw. The ball bounced in the box and eventually deflected fortuitously for Jagielka who pounced from just a couple yards to give Everton the lead. 1-0 Everton.
Arsenal’s malaise continued with the team struggling to build up play in midfield and the final third. Passes went astray and often found an Evertonian instead of a teammate.
Their organization during the defensive phase was poor too as the team did not limit the spaces between the lines. Everton had a lot of space to counter attack into and Sokratis had to earn a yellow card out of desperation, pulling back a dangerous run by Bernard.
The players must have been relieved at the sound of the half time whistle as we just witnessed one of the most uninspiring performances of the Emery era. The Toffees had outplayed and physically dominated Arsenal in every department.
Emery wasted no time changing things up as Elneny and Kolasinac made way for Ramsey and Aubameyang. Ramsey was in the thick of the action from the off, driving forward with the ball and earning a corner as a result. Ramsey had another left footed effort go wide five minutes later – his introduction clearly adding impetus and a higher tempo to the team’s play.
Despite the upturn in form, Arsenal were still culpable for some horrendous moments of play. Mkhitaryan’s routine pass for Aubameyang skied wide for a goal kick while Maitland-Niles decided to give his throw-in a similar treatment minutes later.
The game was increasingly stretched as Arsenal poured men forward for the equalizer and Everton carved out dangerous chances on the break.
Mkhitaryan made Arsenal’s best chance of the game so far on the 70th minute, cutting in from the left to curl a shot just wide of the far post. As is custom with this game, Everton responded just minutes later with Sigurdsson striking a cutback right into the path of Leno. Richarlison had the game’s next chance as he was in acres of space on Arsenal’s left but fortunately did not hit the target despite being under minimal pressure.
Ozil made way for Iwobi on 74 minutes, after another tame outing in an away game as team captain. It was another substitute who almost scored, ex-Gunner Theo Walcott, and could have added insult to injury late on save for a block by Monreal.
Arsenal was never near to claiming a goal and it ended 1-0 to Everton. With four more away games in the final six games of the season, Emery needs to find a solution to their away game malaise quickly before Arsenal lose their position in the top four.