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Everton 0-1 Arsenal: Outthought and outfought, leaving Gooners distraught [Match Review]

sleeping

I wrote a blog after the last time Everton beat us at Goodison and I said that they deserved to win because they outhought, outfought and generally wanted the result more than us. I sat down with my son to watch the match and I could not beileve that Emery had selected Elneny and Guendouzi in midfield with only MIkhitaryan as what you would call a ‘defensive midfielder’. ( I know that he is not really one, but no one else in midfield even resembled that type of player). Kolasinac was supposed to be a defender, but his worth has been recognised as an offensive wing-back.

If anyone reading this blog has saved a recording of the match, I would ask you to have a look at the shape of the team from the outset, when Everton attacked us. They came at us in packs and down the wings then worked the ball through the middle of our defence. Elneny and Guendouzi are not used to playing with each other and Mikhitaryan is more used to play as an Aaron Ramsey, linking with Lacazzete, and Ozil. None of this quartet played well and as a result, there was no cohesion or shape in midfield. We had no leader to take the game by the scruff of the neck and link the midfield where the engine of the team should be. Whilst the back 4 of Maitland Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis and Monreal formed a line of four, there was no similar line in front of them.

ramsey sub

Most teams in the premiership, now play with two lines of 4 interlocking to form a secure barrier to the rear of midfield. It makes for security whilst also providing a springboard for counter-attacks. Everton used that tactic throughout the game and with no right back in place because Ozil was adrift in midfield looking for the ball or, when he did get it, for someone to pass it to. Maitland NIles was off his game at the worst possible time and he was constantly struggling to cope with Bernard and Calvert Lewis. Mustafi was fulfilling his role as one of the cenral three and he was having to commit to sliding tackles because Maitland Niles was absent which of course we all know is his gateway to yellow cards.

Emery did improve matters slightly when he brought Ramsey on for Elneny and he immediately speeded up the action especially in midfield. Ozil had to go off as well because he cannot play in a disjointed team in which he is not getting the ball in the first place and he has no target to look for when he does. Guendouzi is also affected badly in those circumstances and instead of trying to seal the breach, he tries to take on the opposition defence on his own. Time after time he made runs at the Everton defence which ended up in cul de sacs or in actually passing the ball to an Everton player. Aubameyang made little difference when he came on, but Iwobi finally brought some meaningful aggression on the wing and brought some concern to the Everton defenders.

elneny

It was too little too late and looking back on the game it must have been one of the most comfortable afternoons for Pickford for a long time.

We have harder nuts to crack than Everton in the near future starting with Napoli on Thursday. If we are going to rely on winning the Europa League as a ticket to the Euro Championship,  Emery will have to get his thinking cap on and tighten his defensive tactics. He should definitely play Ramsey, Lacazette and Aubameyang from the start. Watford, Wolves, Burnley and Leicester will all be well drilled to exploit any further such selection mistakes or defensive frailties.

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