Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat against Everton on Saturday evening to pile yet more pressure on Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. The travelling side got off to very slow start, and soon found themselves a goal down when Rob Holding converted an Toffees cross into his own net.
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The own goal elicited a quickfire response from Arteta’s men, with Nicolas Pepe converting a 35th minute penalty for a foul committed on Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Parity didn’t last very long however, as just before the half time break, Yerry Mina’s superb header added Everton’s second goal of the game — and what would turn out to be the winner. The result leaves Arsenal languishing in 15th place — just five points above the relegation zone.
While they were largely outplayed for much of the game, Arsenal did look dangerous on the counter. Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe momentarily rattled the Everton backline whenever the away side did get an opportunity to break in numbers. The second half was much improved, with Jordan Pickford even forced into making a handful of saves. Nevertheless, they failed to make a decisive breakthrough while they were on top.
From the outset, it became clear that Arsenal were going to struggle with crosses and the aerial threat that Everton posed. This was soon realised, when a low cross was turned into the Arsenal net by Holding. Their inability to deal with flighted balls was evident again just before the break, as Mina capitalised on the lack of organisation to head home from a corner. Things did improve slightly in the second half for the Gunners, but poor finishing from the side’s forwards cost them dearly.
Manager Rating (out of 10)
5 — In the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arteta opted to play Eddie Nketiah in the lone striker position. The England Under-21 international showed a real lack of composure in front of goal, which ended up hurting Arsenal. Tactically, the away side were seemingly set up to absorb pressure and hit Everton on the break. However, Arteta’s game plan was again undermined by individual errors in defence, and shoddy marking on set pieces. The latter will be of greater concern to the Spanish manager.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 5 — Arguably should have done better with Mina’s header, which he got a hand to.
DF Rob Holding, 5 — A nightmare on Merseyside for the English defender, who was so impressive in the week against Southampton. Converted an Everton cross into his own net to hand the home side an early lead.
DF David Luiz, 5 — Looked decent in the air but was caught out positionally on several occasions.
DF Kieran Tierney, 6 — Impressed when venturing forward, linking up effectively with Saka on the left. Probably the best of defensive back three.
MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 7 — Earned Arsenal’s 35th minute penalty after a powerful drive into the box. Looked defensively solid when called into action.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 — Booked in the first half, replaced early in the second half. A very underwhelming display overall.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 — Decent in spells, but ultimately, neither he nor Elneny were able to establish control in the middle of the park.
MF Bukayo Saka, 6 — Added good energy down the left, posing a serious threat to the Everton defence in the first period. Couldn’t sustain this effort however.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 7 — The Ivorian calmly slotted home Arsenal’s penalty to equalise. His final ball may have let him down at times, but the intent to make an impact was most certainly there.
FW Willian, 5 — Virtually invisible for much of the match, aside from the odd aimless cross into the box. Looked a step off the pace tonight.
FW Eddie Nketiah, 5 — Fired wide with his best shooting opportunity of the match. The forward seems to lack a clinical edge at times.
Joe Willock, 6 — Put in a handful of dangerous crosses that unfortunately led to very little.
Gabriel Martinelli, 6 — Made his welcomed return to action following a long-term injury. Was surprisingly sharp given the length of the layoff.
Alexandre Lacazette, N/A — Failed to make a meaningful impact.