Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Premier League – 19/12/2020

As the Europa League is now at a close until the New Year, Arsenal fans have now had to get used to watching their team play in the league, where their form is noticeably different from the white hot standards they are setting in Europe.

Without a win since November, Arsenal have struggled to find anything even resembling form and their previous run-out against Southampton saw the team score their first goal from open play since October.

There were a few changes from the team that dramatically drew with Southampton; Gabriel Magalhães’ suspension meant that David Luiz was drafted in to replace him and the hapless Willian was brought in to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was out with a tight calf.

Nicolas Pépé scores Arsenal’s equaliser from the spot.

It didn’t take long for the misery that has long plagued Arsenal’s poor form recently to start once more; twenty-two minutes in fact as former-Gunner Alex Iwobi’s cross met Dominic Calvert-Lewin, only for the England international’s header to bounce in off of Rob Holding’s knee and give the home side the lead.

Everton did not lead for long however, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles ploughed his way into the box, he was brought down by Tom Davies and the subsequent penalty was quickly dispatched by Nicolas Pépé.

Though Arsenal dominated in possession, thy seemed unable to really penetrate Everton’s backline too much and soon the home side punished Arsenal for their lack of attacking sting and soon found themselves behind once more after Yerry Mina’s header was turned in following Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson’s corner, a hammer blow before half-time. 

The second half was a more impressive showing from Arsenal, but once again, Arsenal failed to score. Though David Luiz came close with a shot that cannoned off the post, Arsenal were unable to produce anything resembling serious attacking quality. 

Yerry Mina heads home the winning goal seconds before half-time.

The final-whistle was somewhat delayed in arriving, almost as a torment to Arsenal and their performance as they slumped to an eighth defeat in the league this season. 

It is perhaps a testament to just how bad Arsenal’s performances have been or a signal of just how bad the results are just now that the highlight of Arsenal’s game was Gabriel Martinelli’s return to the team.

The Brazilian was hardly unlikely to change too many things in the team himself, but his presence in the side will be greatly appreciated, especially as Arsenal look to add some flat to a very dull attack. 

However, the intriguing thing about Arsenal’s recent performances is the manner in which Arsenal have played. The team has not been overtly bad and performances haven’t been particularly poor, the issues seem to have stemmed more from Arsenal’s lack of ability to create or fashion many chances for themselves, which has also been coupled with poor finishing from the forward-line.

In terms of possession, Arsenal seem to be suffering an an embarrassment of riches, having dominated possession easily, the problem has been what to do with the possession when they actually have it. 

Last night’s performance was however punctuated with the usual poor returns from certain players. Despite his goal, Nicolas Pépé was largely ineffective and unable to dance his way around Ben Godfrey, no matter how many times he tried, Willian was once again disappointing and Dani Ceballos was a contender for one of the worst players in the league for 90 minutes. 

These individual performances have been the Achilles’ heel for Mikel Arteta in recent weeks and the Spaniard seems unable to turn things around and with a game against Manchester City on Tuesday night, it doesn’t look as though Arsenal’s fortunes will be turning around any time soon either. 

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
16.) Rob Holding
23.) David Luiz
  3.) Kieran Tierney
25.) Mohamed Elneny (Willock 64’)
  8.) Dani Ceballos
  7.) Bukayo Saka
30.) Eddie Nketiah (Lacazette 76’)
19.) Nicolas Pépé (Martinelli 71’)
12.) Willian 

Arsenal subs:
13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
20.) Shkodran Mustafi
17.) Cédric Soares
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
31.) Sead Kolašinac
28.) Joe Willock
32.) Emile Smith-Rowe
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Everton team:
1.) Jordan Pickford
  4.) Mason Holgate
13.) Yerry Mina
  5.) Michael Keane
22.) Ben Godfrey
16.) Abdoulaye Doucouré
26.) Tom Davies
17.) Alex Iwobi (Coleman 83’)
10.) Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson
  7.) Richarlison (Kenny 92’)
  9.) Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Tosun 93’)

Everton subs:
49.) Jonas Lössl
33.) Robin Olsen
  2.) Jonjoe Kenny
18.) Niels Nkounkou
23.) Séamus Coleman
32.) Jarrad Branthwaite
20.) Bernard
24.) Anthony Gordon
14.) Cenk Tosun

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