Tactical points from Arsenal's narrow win over Everton
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A crucial 3 points in the race for Europe as Arsenal picked up their third victory in a week and maintained their unbeaten start to 2020.
From an Arsenal point of view, we scored high-quality goals from delicious crosses and a through ball that were terrible goals to concede for Everton and ultimately, we got our share of the luck to get the win.
Conceding early goals can be catastrophic to a side psychologically and it was a shambolic one to concede littered with errors- Ceballos with the cheap foul, Kolasinac getting dragged out and breaking the offside line and the biggest of them, Luiz not clearing his lines with a straightforward header.
Everton played with a diamond 4-4-2 formation with Calvert-Lewin partnering Richarlison up top, and with Iwobi and Sigurðsson as the wide players in the midfield.
Arsenal struggled early on after conceding, failing to keep hold of the ball with Ceballos, in particular having a rough start in the face of a strong opposition press. They were cut open a few times quite easily on the transition as Iwobi had a couple of half-chances to make it 2-0.
Except for Sidibe, Everton's backline lacks pace, so the Arsenal forwards kept running in behind the high line to capitalise on this weakness and the second goal was the reward for that.
Kolasinac suffered a nasty fall on his shoulder after going up for a header and this eventually turned out to be a blessing in disguise in the form of Saka. Arteta was certainly hoping to rest the youngster after a grueling week but it is increasingly becoming more difficult to leave him out of the side.
It was a superb cross in a dangerous area for Nketiah and a very controlled finish to get things back on level terms. Arsenal started to dominated possession more and went ahead thanks to an easy finish from Aubameyang after a great through ball from Luiz.
After taking the lead and controlling possession, Arsenal didn’t put their foot on the accelerator enough and then paid the price for this at the end of the first half. Once again, Arsenal didn’t deal with the second ball and Leno didn't show enough assertiveness in his box.
Arsenal kicked off the second half on the front foot with Arteta specifically instructing Luiz to play long balls into Pepe, and this paid off 23 seconds into the half, with the Ivorian's cross headed in by Aubameyang.
Over the next 10-15 minutes, Arsenal controlled the game as they moved the ball from side to side as Everton struggled to get a foothold in the game. All this changed when Andre Gomes was brought on by Ancelotti in midfield as Arsenal struggled to deal with his progressive passing and movement.
Around the hour mark, fatigue was very much evident amongst the Arsenal team with Saka making multiple uncharacteristic mistakes around his own box. Arteta should have changed something at this point to freshen things up as Arsenal turned the ball over easily as simple passes went astray. Ozil was drifting between the lines and pressing much less frequently which left Gomes free to showcase his passing range.
For most of the game, Arsenal dealt with the aerial balls into Richarlison and Calvert- Lewin with ease but once Everton started to play long balls into the space vacated by the full-backs, the Gunners were stretched thin and were left with 2-on-2's on several occasions.
Since Xhaka covers the left-sided area, Gomes kept putting balls in behind the right flank for Richarlison to chase and attack Mustafi at every opportunity.