Tactical Points From Arsenal's Uninspired Loss to Everton
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
An incredibly listless performance, eerily similar to the corresponding fixture last season around the same period. A second consecutive game where we decided to be charitable to opposition very low on confidence, and ended up paying the price.
Rotation was certainly needed in light of the hectic schedule coming up, but there was a clear lack of chemistry throughout the game. Aside from the goal, and a few bits of interplay chasing the game late on, it was a toothless attacking performance.
A good start against Everton would have gone a long way in increasing the pressure on the home team, but there was nothing to separate the two sides in what turned out to be a scrappy, cagey affair.
Everton operated in a good old-fashioned 4-4-2 for most of the game with Gray and Gordon staying narrow while defending. Such a compact shape is susceptible to switches of play and utilization of the entire width of the pitch. But from Arsenal's point of view, the ball movement and the linkup between midfield and attack was not quick enough.
As the weather got worse, so did our ability to control the game. Everton got more physical with their play and prevented any kind of rhythm in ours to have sustained pressure on Everton’s goal.
Saka kept taking knocks with every foul committed on him and the teenager was limited in his explosiveness with the ball from wide areas. As Everton pushed higher in the second half, Arsenal managed to break the press, but couldn’t create anything meaningful despite overpowering the Everton backline on the counter-attack.
Lacazette was a peripheral figure for most of the game and the Frenchman was neither in the penalty box from crosses nor was he involved in the buildup. It was incredibly surprising to see him not being taken off earlier.
Substitutions will perhaps be the biggest talking point along with the obvious red cards that Everton should have gotten. Xhaka had just gotten back from the long-term injury and shouldn’t have been expected to play the whole game. Lacazette was cramping at the hour mark and should have been brought off much earlier. With Pepe on the bench, seeing Nketiah brought on was a surprise but the plan seemed to be to have an extra striker in the box. Despite missing an open goal, he was a threat with his direct running and movement in the penalty area.