Monday, 8 April 2019

EVERTON 1 - 0 ARSENAL: 5 TALKING POINTS!!!

Arsenal faltered in their bid to solidify their position in top 4 after Phil Jagielka’s early goal put Everton within 1 point of Leicester City. Gunners’ lacklustre performance exposed their lack of quality and depth in their squad which could see the scramble for CL football intensify further with each result. Here are the talking points from the game…

#1 Arsenal’s wait for an away clean sheet continues

Phil Jagielka’s early finish from close range meant the continuation of an unwanted run for Emery’s men this season The Gunners are yet to keep a clean sheet in their away games in the Premier League and the last they managed to do so was last season in what was Arsene Wenger’s last game in charge as the Arsenal boss in a 1-0 win at Huddersfield on the final matchday. Arsenal will have the opportunity to get that stain off when they play against Watford, Wolves, Leicester and Burnley in the coming weeks but it won’t be an easy task. 


#2 Everton’s home form frustrates top 6 clubs

Marco Silva has given a glimpse of the future to the Goodison faithful with the fluid attacking system he has cultivated. Despite losing to Spurs and Man City, Silva’s men have somewhat redeemed themselves with a draw against arch-enemy Liverpool, 2-0 win against Chelsea and now condemning Gunners to a frustrating defeat. 

Everton have the best home record outside of the top 6 and it has put a dent in the top 4 hopes of two London clubs. They could yet be a source of annoyance for another top 4 hopeful - Manchester United - when the two sides meet in two weeks’ time. 


#3 Sokratis suspension a cause for concern

It cannot be denied that Sokratis addition to the Gunners’ backline has brought in much-needed steeliness which was severely lacking in previous campaigns. However, the Greek international picked up his 10th booking of the season at Goodison Park which means that he will now be suspended for the next two games against Watford (away) and Crystal Palace (h
ome). 

Playing away to Watford will be no easy task since it was here where Troy Deeney questioned the Gunners ‘cojones’ and with their incredible comeback win against Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final, Emery’s men will have to be on their toes for 90 minutes. But they’ll have to do so without the services of Sokratis.


#4 Arsenal miss Xhaka and Torreira

With Granit Xhaka out with a groin injury and Lucas Torreira serving his suspension for the red card he received against Spurs, Emery was forced to field the inexperienced Guendouzi and the often overlooked Mohamed Elneny in midfield. The duo was unable to dominate the proceedings as Arsenal’s midfield was overrun by Everton’s dogged pressing. 

This meant that Arsenal attacking stars Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan often had to drop deep into midfield to receive the ball which left Everton’s final third light of bodies and thus the creative duo were unable to influence things in and around the box. This further highlights how crucial the duo is for Arsenal - Xhaka for spreading the play wide and Torreira to break the opposition’s play to launch a counter. 


#5 The battle for European spots intensifies

With Tottenham sitting 3rd in the table (64 points), a point ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea and 3 points ahead of Manchester United in 6th, the top 4 race could go down to the wire. Although Arsenal have an easier fixture list compared to their competition and are still the favourites to finish in the top 4 places, their dodgy away form could make things interesting. 

On the other hand, Everton is within a point of Leicester City (47 points) in what is a 4-way scramble for the 7th place which may offer a potential Europa League second round qualifying place should Watford fail to lift the FA Cup against Manchester City in May. With Everton, Watford, Leicester City and Wolves all having to face top 6 clubs in their remaining fixtures, every result henceforth in the top half could mean the difference between playing in the Champions League, Europa League and even winning the title!

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