Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park. Here’s what we learned.
Since beating Manchester United at Old Trafford seven league matches ago, Arsenal have claimed two points from a possible 21. Defeat to Everton on Saturday ensured it was the Gunners’ worst start to a season since the 1974/75 campaign.
Aiming to steady the ship, Arsenal have returned to a back three setup leaning strongly towards a defensive five, the old guard approach that saw Mikel Arteta navigate his way through some tough fixtures and end up with a trophy to boot.
That system made for an exceedingly tame start to Saturday’s match, with Arsenal content to soak up pressure and keep things tight. Said pressure wasn’t too telling with Everton relatively poor on the night, finding their opening via the thigh of Rob Holding.
Nicolas Pepe converted from the spot after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had been fouled in the box, but hopes of going into the break level were dashed when the Toffees capitalised on some weak defending to nod themselves in front.
An improvement in the second half occurred with a change of shape, but for all Arsenal’s meagre huffing and puffing they were unable to alter the scoreline, sitting glumly in 15th place with four wins from 14 matches. A whole 14 points.
Here’s what we learned.
Mikel Arteta Will Not Yield
How many more signs do you need? On how many more occasions must a rancid performance breed the same result before the penny drops?
Non-negotiables have already been cast aside in favour of stature; meritocracy banished for the size of pay cheque.
Willian put in one of the single most insipid displays in the first half of Goodison Park, so much so that any Arsenal fan of a right mind would have hauled him off before the break. No running, desire or care in anything he did, that outing was another fine example of the senior troupe ridding themselves of accountability.
He remained on the pitch for the whole match, moving infield, offering little more.
Players such as Emile Smith Rowe – the only profile matching exactly what Arsenal need in this team – and William Saliba can’t even get a sniff. How on earth the ‘experienced’ members of this squad are continuously granted the freedom to fall way below the standard required while others cut forlorn figures on the bench is as infuriating as it is baffling.
That’s on the manager.