Everton Review: Laca’s Whacker – Arsenal Are Back. Er…

Three points and a clean sheet; on the surface all objectives achieved. If only life were that simple. Results rarely tell the full story of a match and 2 – 0 to the Arsenal doesn’t begin to reflect this one. It was very much a tale of two halves and by that, no-one is surprised. Slow and ponderous in the first, business as usual in the second.

Petr Cech produced his best performance of the season and was fundamental in keeping the score level at half-time. Calvert-Lewin and Walcott, in particular, must still wonder how they failed to break the deadlock. In the second half, a fine save from a point-blank range header from Keane ended the prospect of a nervous close to the game. A good afternoon’s work from the Czech.

His decision-making with the ball at his feet was much-improved as well, probably stemming from the confidence imbued by his early saves. Not perfect, just better.

Not that Everton possessed sole claim on feeling aggrieved at not scoring in the first half. Aubameyang hit the bar with a misdirected cross, the sort which a title-winning side sees drop into the net rather than bouncing on the crossbar. Jordan Pickford also produced a couple of smart saves but parity at half-time was a fair reflection of the game.

Fifteen minutes in the second half and the match was all but over. Lacazette, about to be hooked, changed Unai Emery’s mind with a scorching finish from the edge of the area. Two minutes later, Aubameyang scored from close range and it counted despite the striker being more than a yard offside when the ball was hooked back to him by a stumbling Ramsey. It was great control from the Welshman who was off-balance as he received the ball in the first place.

Work and Progress

Lacazette’s goal resulted from Unai Emery making the tactical switch everyone wanted: bringing in Lucas Torreira. Guendouzi dropped to the bench to allow the Uruguayan to partner Xhaka. 

It was the Uruguayan, loitering in space left empty in previous matches this season, whose interception kept the pressure on Everton. His first significant contribution was flying into a tackle which earned him a yellow card; echoes of Patrick Vieira in the willingness to get stuck in from the first minute.

That he was still on the pitch at the final whistle is a testament to the self-control and diligence in his work. The real value in his presence was felt when Sokratis departed due to a knee injury. Mustafi contributed to that, diving into the challenge and getting beaten, leaving his Greek god to save him once again; Sokratis suffered as a result.

Everton couldn’t capitalise, thanks to Torreira’s presence in part, and I thought, a solid hour from Holding. Being thrown in against a forward line which threatened to score every time they got the ball. Richarlison tested Cech early on yet the decision to play him as the wide forward in a 4 – 2 – 3- 1 had the effect of neutering his effectiveness. Despite catching Bellerin out a couple of times, he wasn’t the handful his hype made him out to.

It’s a similar issue facing Arsenal. Using Auba wide is an imbalance. It worked yesterday with both Lacazette and he scoring yet as Emery admitted, Lacazette was about to be substituted before he netted. Auba, having featured against Vorskla, left the pitch ten minutes later.

The question for Emery to answer is why the disparity between the performances in the two halves. It’s all part of being a work-in-progress but we need more work to make progress.

One and One is One

Emery spoke afterwards about how they resolved the issue yesterday:

In the second half, we spoke in the dressing room about stopping their attacking moments with better positioning on the pitch. Also, individually, each player helped to push more in the second half.

Unail Emery on the second half improvement

I am sure the Spaniard is as frustrated by it as he was the lack of a clean sheet. It’s part of his evolution of the club’s playing style, where they become more tactically astute as matches progress. But the sight of dithering on the edge of our own area – Xhaka was the culprit yesterday – isn’t heartwarming. Everton promoted that confusion with a high-press of their own which leads to us retreating into a shell of uncertainty; a dome around our confidence which is only breached at the half-time interval when the coach gets to work his ‘magic’.

Which he does effectively at the moment. If only he could instigate the urgency of the second half at kick-off. That’s the next instalment in his grand work, the reconstruction of Arsenal…

’til Tomorrow.

52 thoughts on “Everton Review: Laca’s Whacker – Arsenal Are Back. Er…

  1. Cech was outstanding yesterday. Great goal from Laca and PEA was in the right place for his. Torreira looked the part in midfield. Honourable mention for Holding who did well when he came on.

    We were lucky Everton don’t have a decent forward (Theo was Theo) otherwise they could have been out of sight in the first half. Richarlison made Hector’s defending look painful a few times.

    The midfield with Xhaka, Ozil & Ramsey isn’t working at the moment. Guendozi and MickyT must be close to taking their spots in the team.

    Although the side looked unbalanced it was an increase in tempo that led to the goals in the 2nd half. The players need their Wenger comfort blanket removed.

  2. I thought Ramsey was very poor again yesterday, too me he just doesn’t look that interested anymore. A real indicator (to my eyes at least) that he wants to leave.

    I agree with PtT in that we should be looking to get Mkhitaryan into his spot.

  3. To be fair to Mustafi, he was initially covering for Sokaritis before he took a heavy on the interception and then, well we know what happened next.

    With that said, 3 points and fair play to Bellerin who grew into thr game and as he did we saw less and less of Richardlson. Torriera was a joy as was Cech from a shot stopping perspective.

  4. Theo gave Nacho a difficult time and it was interesting to see Aubameyang and even Lacazette tracking back.

    That’s another thing, Lacazette is a brilliant CF and not just his goal but his work rate and overall CF play is outstanding. He is a top CF.

  5. Stan

    What are you wittering on about?

    “Lacazette’s goal resulted from Unai Emery making the tactical switch everyone wanted: bringing in Lucas Torreira.”

    Try reading the piece before being a smart-arse.

  6. Gotta love the British media, first Gareth Crooks has a go at Lacazette for celebrating his sublime goal and then Geoff Shreeves during a LIVE INTERVIEW after the match says to Lacazette, “Steady with the language, I know English isn’t your first [language] but be careful.” after Lacazette used the word ‘correctly’ in talking about Cech’s performance and him taking a lot of balls.

    You literally can’t make this shit up, just when you think to yourself, ‘well that was the dumbest thing one could say’, they one up each other in the matter of mins.

  7. Pete the Thirst,

    I tend to agree, think Mhkitaryan or Iwobi should be played for Ramsey thus allowing Ozil to play centrally behind Lacazette and Aubameyang. Not just because he was poor but also to bring proper balance to the team.

    The midfield pairing at the pivots is interesting because at times yesterday Xhaka and Torriera bossed the midfield but there were times that Xhaka was simply too slow in his movement and with the ball at his feet. I know, like the CB partnership, its a work in progress but I do wonder if Guendouzi or maybe even Elneny would partner Torriera better.

    For me, I think Elneny could be a surprise option because he can sit, press and recycle while Torriera does all the linking and CM role. People always kill Elneny for keeping possession, but I think he could play that ‘watercarrier’ role next to Torriera and we all know that both of them will press from 90 mins. We may lose some of the long diagonals from Xhaka and it may look like Elneny brings nothing other than recycling, pressing and always being available while not making a crucial mistake but that might be the balance that we need. I think it could also help free up the likes of Aubameyang and Ozil to not have to track back but allows for them to press higher.

  8. C,

    Did you see the look Papa gave Mustafi after he got up tho ? Hoof it you Prick or I’m coming for you! That’s what I read into it anyway. But that just reflects my meek nature.

  9. ferkov,

    I did see the look and thought the same about Sokaritis’ look but moments like that shows how fine a line things are in futbol. Mustafi made a very good interception after covering for Sokaritis and his touch let him down but we have also seen his touch not let him down. Fine margines in futbol for sure….

  10. Anyway. Never mind the bollox defending, this the Unais Pistols . Bang bang.

    How many times in last five years have we given so many clear chances to the oppo, got away with it Scott free ( what does this mean ?) and then bang bang , good night oppo.
    Is he not a magician , but actually a Warlock? It’s a good feeling…. when the final whistle goes, to be the robbers ,not the robbed. Ferkin brilliant.
    Parity at half time Yogi? You surely jest.
    Ramsey ….. shirts going on eBay before it’s worthless.
    I’d go for Iwobi… though I’ve been an advocate of his for 2 seasons , so I’m being selfish . Micky would do as well.

  11. C,

    Much more than a shot stopping perspective required to characterize Cech’s outstanding game apart from a couple moments in distribution. He was quick off his line several times when the ball was played behind to sweep up behind the very high line. Everton has a very large number of corners but Cech completely dominated the area aerially by winning the ball, catching and punching out strongly. His leadership was needed as well. Then you add in the shots stopped in goal. It is ok to praise a great performance properly and still advocate for something better, I think.

  12. Mr Yogi, as you seem to be known.
    Why don’t you call Cech ,the Czech, though the word play is appreciated, why don’t you call him The Cech. After yesterday he has earned it.

  13. C,

    Agree on Lacazette. Right now in this team, I would start him over Auba centrally and probably would sit Auba in this formation at the start. Of course I wouldn’t be playing this formation that doesn’t match our top players rather than constantly playing several players out of position, but that’s a whole other story!

  14. C,

    Didn’t see the post match—is there a link? These guys are dunces. Do they say this sort of stuff to foreign players on other teams or just to Arsenal players? It has only been 25 years that large numbers of foreign players have been coming to the PL!

  15. Excellent write up, YW. Glad you were right in your prediction that Torreira was fine and would play. Still, we conceded a huge number of chances. Ther’s only so much Torreira can do from that position to shut down pace and trickery our wide. C is right; Monreal had some challenges out there.

    But I do hope Torreira will make a difference. I did like his aggression and discipline—a tough balance on a yellow for most of the match.

  16. C,

    Hadn’t really credited Mustafi as bailing Papa out, and I think the look was for trying to take a fancy touch with the stakes stacking up as they were, at all. Time for a swipe.
    Did notice that with a better touch , a next touch pass through the lines was on. BUT time and place was wrong. My opinion only.

  17. If Ramsey can play a more disciplined role next to Torreira, fine. Otherwise, I have to agree with most everyone that the 10 role just doesn’t work for Ramsey and having him play so far forward takes away from the one really valuable aspect of his game: the late run from midfield into the box. Iwobi has looked good, energetic. Mkh adds creativity combining on the right with Bellerin.

    I would probably, if forced into the 4231–alas a real waste—to play Mkh and Iwobi either side of Ozil with Auba starting up top away for the counter and Laca at home for his valuable interplay on the ball.

  18. Just seen it on Arsenal player.
    Definitely. What makes him so shot shy?
    Read his interview on Arsenal .com, last week. It’s his personality it could be interpreted.
    Different ways of attributing the cause, depends on whether your a fan or not.

  19. So, ferkov, let me get this right.

    You want me to check that I call Cech the Czech “Cech the Cech” in future? Where do you want the cheque sent?

  20. LSG,

    I actually meant no disrespect to Cech as I thought, he was MOTM and as you rightly pointed out, he was quick off his line severaly times. He looked a much more confident and assured GK and rhr performance showed.

    Your absolutely right, you can praise a performance while still wanting a change. I

  21. ferkov,

    Against Newcastle, I was so glad he took a shot. In these situations, I really wish he would put the ball on target and take more responsibility. You can see that the lone defender cheats toward Ramsey and Auba—no one expects Ozil to actually shoot especially driving from the right side.

  22. I questioned Ramsey’s effectiveness but I do need to acknowledge that his control and turn for the assist on Laca’s goal was superb. Lost perhaps in the stunning beauty of the strike.

  23. LSG,

    Lacazette is a must start for me and I don’t mind Aubameyang starting either because there were several times throughout the match that they would seemlessly swap positions and still look dangerous. I think the 3 main reasons I don’t mind Aubameyang on the left are:
    1. When he plays centrally, he tends to drift to the flanks anyways
    2. He doesn’t really get involved with the build up which compliments both Ozil and Lacazette as well as Torriera
    3. He and Lacazette want to play together and that for me means they are willing to work together to make it happen and most importantly, they score goals.

  24. ferkov,

    Time and place were wrong but I think those are the fine margins and when you manager preaches possession and we have seen you pull it off, I can understand why Mustafi did it but its one of those things were if it comes off its very good CB play when it doesn’t its the other.

  25. LSG,

    Think Ozil made the right decision, the tap in was there but Ramsey tripped at the last moment and both Aubameyang and Ramsey were therefl for the tap in.

  26. C:
    LSG,

    Think Ozil made the right decision, the tap in was there but Ramsey tripped at the last moment and both Aubameyang and Ramsey were therefl for the tap in.

    I’ve seen a few claims that Ozil “passed behind Ramsey” and similar shit.

    I watched the video several times and Ozil’s pass is perfectly placed in front of Ramsey, who is facing him and side on to the goal.

    The pass from Ozil placed the ball on a platter for Ramsey to strike with his right foot with only the keeper to beat.

    He was far better placed than Ozil to score at that point, so you’re quite correct, it was the correct choice for Ozil at that moment.

    Unfortunately I think Ramsey got caught wrong-footed and thus stumbled and had to try and shovel the ball through to Aubmeyang (which to his credit he did manage).

    It was offside but with the Everton defenders first moving away from goal (he was onside whilst Ozil had the ball), putting Aubmeyang offside as Ramsey shovelled the ball through, they then moved back towards goal so that he looked onside when he got the ball (still offside because he was offside when the ball was played by Ramsey), the linesman was probably focused on Ramsey and missed Aubmeyang’s position when the ball was played by Ramsey.

    The linesman obviously didn’t know his position at the point Ramsey played the ball and the rule is that the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking player.

    So yes, the linesman got it wrong, but he was right not to flag for offside if he didn’t see the offside. 🙂

  27. C,

    Play them up top together. Even a 433 might be better. I don’t think it works so well in a 4231 and we look very unbalanced without interplay from wide areas. That’s just not Auba’s game. I think it is ok to let him drift wide and come in but he has to be playing forward and not trying to combine with the fullback and central midfielders in a lot of buildup. Someone else needs to cover that area.

  28. MikeSA,

    Spot on!

    Ozil put it on a platter and Ramsey just stumbled/got caught wrong footed and made a meal of it, luckily he was able to get it to Aubameyang to finish it.

    I get people(myself included at times) wanting Ozil to shoot because he is so effective when he does but that was rhe right decision with the right weighted pass but then Ramsey cocked it up but then made amends to his credit.

  29. C,

    Disagree—the defender was cheating over and Rambo tripped because he had to adjust and try and take a touch rather than tap in first time because the defender was already on top of him. Credit to Rambo for saving the move by flicking it over even though he could see Auba was offside. Ozil should have shot when wide open in the middle of the box with space all around him. The problem is he doesn’t shoot enough and won’t pull the trigger with his right and probably figured he’d just pass rather than try to cut in and shoot with his left. Bury the open shot in the box, man. You are a skilled attacker. The other guys are being defended so punish them for thinking you won’t shoot! I hope Emery tells him to believe in himself and take responsibility. Wrong choice completely.

  30. Good afternoon Everybody. It’s abundantly clear that your can’t have a functional Team playing PEA out on the left, and playing Ramsey and Ozil. It don’t work. It won’t work.

    Playing PEA on the left diminishes his potential, effectiveness than if he were central. He’s just not that sort of Player. He’s doing it for the team but it’s not a role he clear relishes in. For the opposition his presence alone means he remains a threat however less so on the wing.

    Playing Ramsey and Ozil is akin to mixing oil and water together. Don’t work.

    I thought it was criminal in a sense in not starting Mikhi. Iwobi merited a start.

    The sooner the situation is resolved and Ramsey’s contract the better for all involved.

  31. MikeSA,

    I’m not saying Ozil’s pass wasn’t good, on target etc… Just misjudged. We need him to take more chances himself and I was so happy he has scored a couple in previous games. This was a regression, I think, to his natural unselfishness. But it can go too far and this was to me one of those instances. I think if he put it on target maybe the keeper spills it for Auba. In any case whatever happens afterwards, Ramsey stumble/adjustment etc…, the defender has stayed very close to Ramsey and all the other defenders are yards behind the play, and Ozil is completely on his own and the keeper has hesitated to come out to close him down. Watching it again, Ozil has even angled to have the ball on his left and body has opened—perfect situation for a shot to the far side with his left. Why pass it to Ramsey with a defender a couple of yards from him when you are free in the box with no one even 5 yards from you and just the keeper to beat? Thankfully we scored. So ultimately this isn’t important. I just hope Ozil takes more shots like he has in a few games recently.

  32. Ras,

    Agree. But why resolve the contract? He hasn’t signed. Just bench him to get the right balance or try playing him deeper with instructions on his role. Everyone else has played more than one role or sat on the bench too. Ozil central or wide right. Auba central or wide left. Laca bench or CF. Same should go for Ramsey. Emery said he was an 8/10. Why not try him as 8? Or rotate him from bench if he’s out of form. Totally agree with you about Auba wide left.

  33. LSG,

    Disagree mate, the defender does drop off but watch Pickford, he goes to Ozil and Ozil takes Pickford and the defender out of the play with the pass for the easy tap-in but Ramsey literally trips over the ball otherwise its a tap-in. He also was coming down the flank not centrally(Ramsey was standing centrally) and while I do want Ozil to shoot more because he is so talented fucking talented, but as even Dixon pointed out, Ozil made the right decision because Pickford went to attack Ozil and the defender cheated but then backed off because there was a defender for Everton also chasing to close down Ozil but the problem is, Ramsey got it wrong but then corrected it by passing it to Aubameyang.

    Ultimately, Ozil’s decision came down to Pickford. Think of it like this, Ozil’s pass took Pickford completely out the play and it came down to Ramsey cocking it up and then redeeming himself but if Ramsey isn’t actually there Aubameyang still gets the easy tap-in.

    Ozil for me, is a player that is like Riquelme, supremely talented and you know they can score goals just because of his immense talent but there natural instincts is to create for others and I would imagine that Ozil probably thinks, ‘I have easily 2 of the top 10 finishers in World futbol so lets feed them’ and we all have seen since his arrival, Ozil has tried to create loads for Ramsey.

  34. Great performance by Cech and especially pleasing to see his confident play. It’s a lesson to the rest about putting in one’s best effort and getting behind the program.
    Torreira justified his first start with a strong performance.
    We read about different strategies/formations and how different players might be utilized but, when it comes to Ramsey, we say that it doesn’t play to his style. Why isn’t he adapting to the new style? I wonder whether he has already “left”.
    And then there’s Ozil; lackluster all afternoon. Don’t know why he wasn’t hooked. Doesn’t deserve to start. By comparison, Guendozi was off the bench, congratulating the players after the goals. We need more of that kind of energy – less of Ozil’s kind.

  35. With all that we took 3 points, 5 straight results, 1 point off of 4th and tied with Spuds on points with our attacking looking very likely and everything else still a work in progress. I’m actually quite happy

  36. I hate to imagine what Cech would be like as a pundit. To effectively accuse Wenger one of he most driven and competitive managers of actively playing to not to win games is just mindboggling.
    I find it ironic that players who fail to give a 110% straightaway blame the manager. Really if you were not motivated under Wenger I am not sure anything will change under Unai.
    Get a mirror Cech mayhem the problem lies in you, you know just like that panicked pass to an opposing player suggests you do not have the composure or the intelligence to adapt and learn to play from the back. But it’s so hard to front up and admit that maybe you are just not that good.

  37. Wenger himself said winning properly was the only way and he didn’t want to win ugly. So if you don’t want to win ugly, aren’t you say win pretty or don’t win at all?

    Fuck. That’s a good question for tomorrow’s post…

  38. YW:
    Wenger himself said winning properly was the only way and he didn’t want to win ugly. So if you don’t want to win ugly, aren’t you say win pretty or don’t win at all?

    Fuck. That’s a good question for tomorrow’s post…

    Can I answer it now please Sir?…….just bloody win….anyway you like.

  39. I’m genuinely shocked at what i read about Emery sometimes, i feel some of our fans have been watching Chelsea and City’s merry-go round of money and mangers and think that’s how it’s done. thankfully those on this thread seem to have there heads screwed on.

    This “Arsenal are playing terribly” is an extreme overreaction. Having watched every game, there are area’s we definitely need to improve upon for sure. But i’ve just had to listen to someone say that we don’t create enough chances to be a top 4 team and that Wenger’s teams created more they were just defensively weak. Nonsense. We should have put 3/4 past Cheslea in that first half, Emery can’t make our strikers and midfielders score sitters…..i see improvements, it’s far from the finished article, but realistically, it’s still Wengers team, not Emery’s! Give the man time.

    his first job was to surely steady the ship, a ship that had one just 1 away game since Jan in 2018. And he’s thus far done so. We’ve created loads of chances, we’ve got 10 different goal scorers in the team. we need to defend better, yes, but we’ve got 15 years to undo and it’s still wengers back 4 really (Sok was agreed early in summer wasn’t he?)

    Emery has a lot to work out: Ramsey’s contract situation, personally, i think he’s not done nearly enough to warrant a new contract, i’d take a new midfielder, or a winger in his place. Xhaka is looking better, but far from what we need….Again, don’t think he’ll make the final Emery cut. Mustafi, Monreal, Ramsey, ozil…don’t see them lasting under Emery.

  40. I think it is pretty obvious that Ramsey is not the #10 we need and while Ozil is not the #10 who presses well, maybe we could have a midfield of Elneny and Torreira behind Ozil. Elneny is more static and Torreira can ping the long passes around. This seems to be the only way to have Ozil centrally and then have defensively minded midfielders behind him.

    I would like to see Ramsey off in January. Mhki did pretty good on thursday and I feel he should get more time centrally.

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