Everton Review: From Despair To Where?

Everton 1 – 0 Arsenal

In amongst the faux outrage that Manchester City didn’t sellout their ticket allocation at Wembley or ’10 things we noticed about the Premier League this weekend that you did as well’ articles, are match reports on our latest away defeat. They are tucked away, hidden from sight and we’d quite like them to stay there.

It was a nothing performance and nothing good will come from dwelling on it. We won’t learn anything new about any of the squad. None of them played as well as they can and individually, none of them played as badly as they can. Yesterday just saw a collective nothingness from them.

I’m not singling out anyone and in fact, defend Mesut Özil against the photo which circulated on social media. Pre-match, in the tunnel, back against the wall, watching Jagielka talk to the mascots, the German was criticised for not shouting at the players, geeing them up. Because that always works, doesn’t it? No team ever lost when the captain does that.

Questioning the merits of Özil as captain is perfectly valid but this squad is utterly leaderless bar for Koscielny. Maybe Xhaka as well, but beyond that, the absence of a genuine captain is something we’ve talked about for several years. We’re still getting to grips with the concept of ‘players as grown-ups’ and it still isn’t working.

What we did learn from yesterday is the lack of depth in the squad. Defensively and in midfield, the recruitment side of the club will be very busy this summer. And I suspect, there will be long thought given to whether PEA and Lacazette are the right players for what Emery wants to achieve. I don’t know what that is, by the way, but leaving one on the bench is not the answer.

Where Are We Headed?

His final destination on the playing side is something Emery must define as well. We were too conservative in our approach yesterday in the first half. He was hamstrung by injuries and suspension but we sat back, trying to kill the game as if it were a European tie.

Part of the coach’s learning curve is that the Premier League doesn’t ‘do’ things the way other major leagues do. English football never has and I suspect it will take decades for that to change.

The midfield was too circumspect in its business, slow to shut down space. Successful teams hunt in packs when out of possession; we did not. The introduction of Ramsey added some zest but his injury burdened him and without the support of colleagues, his impact was neutered.

Finding the balance between the home and away performances is Emery’s biggest challenge with the players we have at our disposal. We know on Thursday night that we’ll see a reaction and possibly a decisive win over Napoli. From this performance, we may need that to progress.

But with six games to go, we are still fourth. Until tonight that is. Hope is not lost either. Chelsea face Liverpool and Manchester United away in two of their next three games. United themselves face Everton (A), City (H) and Chelsea (H) before the end of the month. Only Tottenham face a straightforward run-in.

Despair isn’t the answer to our problems. Picking ourselves off the floor and getting to grips with the poverty of our performances is all Emery and his coaches can do.

We’ll find out how good those training sessions have been next Monday at Watford. Until then, Everton away is cast in the overflowing bin of nasty performances we want to forget.

’til Tomorrow.

75 thoughts on “Everton Review: From Despair To Where?

  1. Jonnygunner says:

    G’day YW
    We were shocking yesterday…

  2. Dalm says:

    I was ‘fortunate’ to not see the game……listened to the second half and at one stage took the wrong turn off the motorway – and not through excitement – if I hadn’t woken up I could still be in Birmingham. I blame the players.

  3. Chairman Gallant says:

    Our away form has been terrible, and Emery must do something fast about that before we face Watford next .Otherwise Arsenal can forget about top four this season.

  4. SV says:

    Generally, the bad away form is down to the lack of physicality and characters in the squad, both inherited. But Emery should have taken the game more serously. At some point, you would expect Emery to know the squad and the league better. Oezil a captain in an away game? If it was an attempt to motivate him, it failed miserably. I’m not sure anything would motivate Oezil, and his one-dimensionality makes him a limited player anyway. It’s not an easy case to handle, but that’s how managers earn their (good) money.

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    The contrast between home and away form is like comparing an iPhone to a Nokia 3310: one’s dynamic the other is a bit sh!t.

    Whole team didn’t show yesterday. The tempo was slow and there seemed to be no energy, which is odd considering the rest since Newcastle last week.

    The only thing that can I can put my finger on is an attitude problem that has hung around the dressing room since Wenger left last season. If I’m right then some of the players need shifting.

  6. thrillbo says:

    Did anyone feel confident in the game once we saw our two mop heads were anchoring the midfield? I was nervous from the off. Didnt help that guendo came out firing and got a stupid red. He was hiding after that. I saw some stuff on twitter showing the positions of our players and the midfield was empty. Matteo was running all around, Elneny was off to the side. It was a god damn mess. We sometimes bemoan Xhaka but I think his positioning was sorely missed. If you saw arsenal coming to your place and see a 19yr old mop head and elneny in midfield, i would be really be liking my chances. Matteo has a bit of a hot head gotta learn to play hard but smart.

  7. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Pete the Thirst, that’s a bit harsh on the old Nokia 3310! It’s slightly better than that lack lustre affair we were treated to yesterday. Albeit UE was hamstrung with suspension’s and injuries. I still feel he got it woefully wrong with personnel! Mikhi and Ozil away from home is a no, no! Ozil as captain whilst gallant, was tomfoolery at best. C’est la vie! A clean sheet and a win against Napoli and all is forgiven right!?

  8. thrillbo says:

    Fortunately for me setting at home I was able to turn the match off after 20 minutes and get on with my life. You have to feel for those traveling fans sitting thru that crap. I tuned in for bits and pieces later on, we started having good possession but going nowhere.

    We’ve seen it many times this year. Mid table and lower table teams are bossing us. They play swift, precise, efficient football. It seems like each attacking move has a chance to generate something, and each attacking move comes with a real threat. There is also an ‘ease’ at which our defense gets torn apart sometimes.

    Compare to our offensive play yesterday. What can you say? Sluggish, no threat, everything in front. Mustafi (fair play to him) did launch a couple of almost long balls for laca, good to see that. Everton sat back in their shape and likely were amazed at how slow we were. Swing the ball around the back a bit, it would take 15 passes just to get to midfield. At which point you have elneny or matteo running full speed to get open, trying to control a pass, and kicking it backwards AGAIN to start the whole process.

    Ozil started coming really deep to get the ball. That is not good. Ozil needs to sit up top in that gap between the opposing midfield and defensive line. He is effective there. When he drops this deep he is pissed at our non existent midfield and tries to do it all himself.

    My lesson is really, Matteo and El Neny cant cut it as a duo, not even against everton. I think either one of these players can slot in next to Xhaka/Torreira and put in a shift. however they are similar players at this point. High energy, not great technically but ok. Neither one of them can control a midfield though. We started two engines in midfield, no one there to marshall the game and control things. The much quoted ‘midfield general’ so to speak.

  9. Bill says:

    Thanks for the review Yogi

    I have been defending Emery’s tactics and team selection this season but yesterday he got the team selection all wrong IMO. The only player on the pitch who is even a realistic threat to score was Lacazette. Laca is a good player but not a prolific scorer so we were severely lacking in firepower. We compounded that problem by playing 4 ball possession/technical midfielders Guendouzi, Elneny, Mkhitaryan and Ozil, none of whom are any real threat to make something happen in the attacking 1/3 and the sluggish slow tempo performance and result was not difficult to predict. Bringing Ramsey on brought a bit more dynamism to the midfield but he was not enough.

  10. Blue Yonder says:

    Seeing the lineup with Ozil and Mkhitaryan starting together did not bode well. Ditto Ozil leaning on the tunnel wall and smiling at the other team. Still, not any one player’s fault and not Emery’s either as I’m sure the performance wasn’t his idea. I realize he was hamstrung by injuries but how much talent does it take to play with some verve? Everton showed that.
    However, such is Arsenal’s nature, they are just as likely to come out flying next game and revive everyone’s faith.

  11. Bill says:

    For all of his technical skill and former greatness I think its become clear that the vision and ability to create and execute in the final 1/3 that made Ozil so special has faded. We also have Mkhitaryan who has not given us much this season. We are spending close to $30 million/yr in wages for 2 ball possession midfielders who don’t bring much in the way of end product. Losing Ramsey and Kos getting older does not help either. Clearly we need to get better players in the midfield, CB, wide forward and LB. The one real advantage we have is 2 solid strikers and we need to find a way to get them playing together regularly to take advantage. I know there have been some tough spots but I think Emery has done an excellent job to keep this squad in the hunt for a top 4 spot. Our front office has a lot of work to do to offload the overpaid players and bring in some upgraded talent.

  12. Paulie Walnuts says:

    The saddest thing about yesterday is how unsurprising it was. Our away form contrasts totally with how we play at home & unless UE can get a grip with it our Champions League return will be forever delayed.

    In all honesty the manager has done well to get us to a position where we’re challenging for top four. I’m certain he will want to do a lot of business during the summer & it’s going to take several windows for him to really remove the wheat from the chaff.

    The Ozil question remains the same. I’ve not seen him be effective away from home against top half opposition for a long time , but he’s by no means the only one there !

  13. billbo says:

    You guys really think the problem was Ozil & Mhkitarian? I thought the real source of issue was two midfielders.. It’s like playing two Denilsons in a midfield duo. There was a huge gap between defense and attack. Sure you want Ozil, Laca, Aubu, Mhki to put their stamp on the game but they need some defensive support and good supply of movement and passing.

    Matteo and Elneny were just running around sideways passing the ball. Everton on the other hand was lazer sharp and played vertically, getting the ball in behind. Particularly on the left side with Ozil, Maitland-Niles, and Mustafi.

  14. Dukey says:

    Agree. The problem was not ozil or miki. It was having elneny, gundozi, maitland miles and kolasniac in the same side. Elneny just spends the whole time getting in everyone’s way and makes us too slow and ponderous.

  15. thrill says:

    Dukey,

    That is a good way to put it. Our midfield spent the whole time running around getting in each other’s way rather than controlling positions and tempo. It was a mess. The thought of the two mop headers running around is engrained in my head

  16. Bill says:

    Dukey

    Elneny has always reminded me of Denilson with a better engine. Having him in any one up increases the chances of our attack devolving into tippy tappy.

    Ozil or Mkhitaryan were not necessarily the problem but in my opinion it’s become pretty clear at this point in their careers that neither of them give us consistent dynamic creativity or a goal threat. When are paying close to $30 million/year in wages and giving up attacking positions in your lineup you need someone who can be the “solution” rather then someone who is “not the problem”. No?

    Arsene and Ivan May have handcuffed us for at least a couple years with Ozils new contract and the trade for Mkhitaryan

  17. Wolfgang says:

    The defence as a matter of habit went awol when the the Everton guy
    scored. The players were looking for offside.The first thing they shd have done like many if not all teams woul d be to kick the ball far away from harm’s way.
    Until the basics of defending,negelcted by Wenger in his quest for attacking soccer,are ingrained in the players dna,forget about finishing in the cl group.

  18. Bill says:

    I know how much everyone liked Jack wilshere but we are very fortunate Arsene was willing to let him go. For a club like ours having a smart selling strategy is very important and we certainly made a huge mistake letting our emotional attachment and the hope that he could someday get back to his best stop us from selling Jack several years ago when he was still worth a lot of money.

  19. Pete says:

    I can clearly see our remaining opponents making notes while watching this game and giving each other knowing looks. Don’t fancy our chances in the remaining away fixtures.

  20. Steve says:

    I think it’s a mind problem. Whenever Arsenal has a UEFA/Europa game upcoming, they always play badly, most time lose, or players feign knocks in the match before it, so as not to get injured or miss the upcoming European game they consider more important.
    In the thinking of UE, a Europa League Cup is more important than top 4. But it’s easier to attain top 4 given the matches Arsenal have left than to win Europa.

  21. C says:

    Interesting news, my mate is a Juve supporter and he said reports have them set to sign Raktik which is a very interesting move given Ramsey has signed too.

  22. C says:

    @Bill

    In response to your comment yesterday…..

    I have always said that Ramsey and Ozil don’t work because Ramsey would just run around without tactical discipline and our 3rd midfielder(generally Xhaka last season) struggled defensively. Attacking wise I have never shied away from saying that it could work if Ramsey focuses more on what he does best late runs and less passing, while letting Ozil do the dictating. Emery has gotten the pair playing well together because he has forced tactical discpline on Ramsey and allowing Ozil the freedom to roam and poke and prod.

    Against Everton, the problem was Guendouzi and Elneny struggled forcing both Ozil and Lacazette to drop SOOOOOO deep to get the ball. When that happens, we will always struggle…then Ramsey and Aubameyang came on which gave Everton problems with their movement which freed up space centrally for both Ramsey and Ozil to work, which they were prior to Ozil being taken off.

  23. thrillbo says:

    We played two denilsons in midfield guys. Matteo is still young so we cant count him out yet. ElNeny has hit his ceiling, he is a squad level rotation player at best, probably fit for a lower table side not a top 4 challenging arsenal side. Has Elneny done really _anything_ of note while being here? He has decent engine to run but hell, i could pick a joe shmo off the street in Chicago who can run around for 90 minutes while maintaining no positional shape or discipline.

  24. consolsbob says:

    Just a return to an earlier debate about ‘institutional bias’ in football.

    Kane goes down in the box holding his head. Commentators suggest that he was elbowed and maybe a penalty. Replays show that he was not touched. Commentators move on. No criticism of Kane for a vlatant attempt at cheating.

    However, Jenas, ex spurs, spouts on endless le about the penalty given against his team for a clear handball.

    The media is full of guff like this.

  25. C says:

    Kane hobbles off and goes straight to the locker room not being able to put any weight on his ankle.

  26. consolsbob says:

    They are a cheating team, C. The media say nothing.

  27. Bill says:

    Cbob

    I can sort of understand why we would think there might be an institutional bias in favor of ManU but what in the world have the Spurs ever done to deserve special treatment?

  28. Bill says:

    C @ 1:07

    I understand your instinct to defend certain players but you can’t have it both ways.

  29. Bill says:

    C

    This is the dictionary definition of confirmation bias.

    The tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms ones preexisting beliefs and or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and often causes systemic error in the process of inductive reasoning.

    I suspect this type of bias affects 100% of sports fans to different degrees.

  30. C says:

    consolsbob,

    They are, they dive like mad and truly put in some nasty stuff on and off the ball yet they are the media darlings because of Kane, Dier, Trippier and Alli.

  31. C says:

    Bill,

    The bias with the Spuds seems to be with England players in mind. Kane, Alli, Trippier, hell even Winks are key figures for the national team.

  32. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    There in lies the problem with the National team! Too many Spuds player’s.

  33. Paulie Walnuts says:

    C,

    The worst is Rose , who goes to ground when someone farts in the crowd.

  34. C says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    Absolutely!

    Was chatting with a mate of mine(he follows La Liga) and he said he gets a laugh when people say Pochettino is a genius because he says him in the same vein as Arsene post Invincibles minus the FA Cuo wins.

  35. YW says:

    Evening,

    Back with a preview first thing in the morning.

  36. YW says:

    Yep, rash promise when you realise the day in question is your 20th wedding anniversary.

    Comments reopened.

  37. billbo says:

    Hello all – thanks YW for letting us back in and congrats on the 20 years. I will hit 2 years here in May , hopeful for a long marriage with plenty of arsenal much like yours.

    What is going to happen today? I’m not sure, but i need to come up with a good excuse PRONTO to leave work this afternoon :p

  38. Michael says:

    Congrats YW, although I bet it’s your turn to pay.

    Banker home win tonight, well I’m banking on it.

  39. C says:

    Cech
    Mustafi—–Sokaritis—–Nacho
    Maitland-Niles—–Torriera—-Ramsey—-Sead
    —————-Ozil———
    Lacazette—Aubameyang

    That’s my XI

  40. lari03 says:

    Congratulations on the anniversary YW. Hope Arsenal makes the night better with a 4-1 win.

  41. lari03 says:

    Hi C, in the absence of Iwobi I would rather start Suarez instead of Kolasinac as LWB.

  42. C says:

    lari03,

    Would if Suarez then I would be interested in a back 4:

    Cech
    Maitland-Niles—-Mustafi—Sokaritis—-Nacho
    Torriera——Ramsey
    Suarez—–Ozil—–Aubameyang
    Lacazette

    Or maybe
    Torriera
    Suarez———Ramsey
    ————Ozil
    Aubameyang—–Lacazette

  43. lari03 says:

    Team news

    Cech-Sokratis-Koscielny-Monreal-
    AMN-Torreira-Ramsey-Kolasinac-
    Õzil-Lacazette-Aubameyang.

  44. C says:

    lari03,

    So its what I figured it would be.

    I would imagine that we will see a much more balanced side with Torriera and Ramsey similar to what we have seen with Xhaka and Ramsey as opposed to Elneny and Guendouzi (even though, to be fair to them, they have played very little recently and not at all together since the early cup matches).

  45. Bill says:

    C

    Good call on the line up. I agree those are the players who give us the best chance to get a result.

    Lari03

    If Emery had any plans to use Suarez this season then you would think he would have be making some effort to get him minutes. If the problem is really nothing other then adaptation then Suarez needs to be on the pitch. You can’t adapt to English football sitting the end of the bench.

  46. Bill says:

    Suarez has been unused sub in 7 of the last 8 games. That certainly does not sound like the manager is trying to help him adapt to English football with the hope of using him in high leverage minutes at some point this season. It sounds a lot more like a manager who does not believe the player can help him.

  47. thrillbo says:

    Good squad, this squad against Everton might have made the difference! Come on you gooners

  48. Dukey says:

    Not sure a 20th wedding anniversary is a good enough excuse not to write a blog for us all Yogi.

  49. Opus says:

    …and it’s 2 nil so far! Wish could play like this more often, get the goals earlier in the game and make the opponent chase shadows till FT. COYG

  50. Ras says:

    A Good first half. Torreira was the missing link taking the team forward against Everton.

    Start of the 2nd half attacks are down the left. Sead offers very little protection to Monreal. Nacho is bereft of pace. It wax the same on Saturday just gone. Richarlson gave him a torrid time. Nacho has played his part and needs to be moved on at the end of the season.

  51. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Mikhi proving he’s got the touch of a donkey. Not sure about the substitution’s. Massive let off!

  52. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Maitland Niles has been good. Elneny is f@#king useless. Headless chicken

  53. C says:

    Bill,

    Well thanks mate!

    Honestly, barring injuries, I hope we see this same line-up away at Napoli. Emery has tried the defensive bit all season away and it hasn’t worked so lets see this XI.

  54. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    What would we do without Kos!

  55. SV says:

    A very good result. I hope for a similar performance at Watford.

  56. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Correction: What would we do without this version of Kos?

    The performances in recent matches that both Kos and Ramsey have put in are of players that know they are off but want to say thank you to Arsenal and Gooners for all their support over the years by playing to their best.

  57. Opus says:

    Good result but disappointed we didn’t get more goals to keep us on advantage. 2 goal can be replied considering how bad our defense is at the moment. However, thank you lads for the win.

  58. nicky says:

    YW,

    Many congrats from Mr and Mrs nicky. I hope you catch up and beat us. Earlier this year (in the football season, of course) we celebrated our 71st!

  59. Bill says:

    Excellent result. More top stuff from Ramsey. He has been arguably our most valuable player for the last couple of months. We are going to miss version of him. Where has this been the last 3 years? Ramsey has divided opinions for the last several years but he is certainly not dividing opinions right now and he never would have divided opinions if he had shown this form on any sort of consistent basis.

  60. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    May I also add that this version of Ramsey and Ozil is very complimentary. This is a different version of Ozil to the one we started the season with. Not sure why he was hooked last night. He was pressing, tracking back and doing his Ozil thing, of being a sublime technical, visionary. I’d agree with C’s statement that this version of Kos and Ramsey are playing out of their skin’s because they are moving on. You would have thought more of the squad would be playing out of their skin’s given that they’re in the shop window

  61. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Spot on about Ramsey and Ozil! We saw them compliment each other like this when Ozil first arrived and Ramsey had his best season to date, and then it disappeared. Now, they are complimenting each other and while they both start in their ‘normal’ positions, Ozil tends to drop that bit deeper to do his Ozil thing allowing Ramsey to do his Ramsey, late run thing but much more tactically aware to not get in yhe way of our strikers.

  62. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Couldn’t agree more with that C.

    Now just to improve our away form and we just may get something out of this season!

    Finger’s crossed!

  63. thrillbo says:

    Hello all good day from land of the Trumpty-Dumpty.

    I would say it was a good result, had a chance to be great but we could finish it off. Props for the clean sheet but Napoli really took a long time to get going. They did nothing in the first half and we could have buried them deep under 3/4/5 goals. Second half they came to play and we got a bit lucky they probably should have scored.

    Love when Ozil is able to sit up top in that pocket between their midfield and striker. He affects the game there. He doesnt affect the game getting the ball on the halfway line and trying to carry forward.

    Shooting boots left us again. It’s amazing to think on it. Our offense has been pretty good this year and we are i believe the 3rd highest scoring team in the prem. However it feels like we are really f**king up 2 or 3 great chances in every game!

  64. Noon Gunner says:

    nicky,

    Nicky, if that ’71st’ isn’t a typo, I am awestruck! My wife and I are just about halfway there (having made a later start than you, if my maths is up to scratch) and my experience has been that after rocky patches it just gets better with age, so you two must be in a state of permanent bliss. I know you’re a leading Gooneroptimist – perhaps the two are connected.

    Meanwhile, warm congrats to Mr & Mrs Yogi!

  65. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    I want to see that same line-up and tactics away from home. I mean Emery has tried to be defensive, he has tried to play pure possession and NONE of it has worked so lets just attack them. I mean we have 2 lethal strikers, Ozil and Ramsey have found form bossing midfieds together and with Torriera or Xhaka, we have that DM who sits and breaks up play.

    I mean, if we get 1 goal at Napoli they have to get 4 while still trying to ensure we don’t get more.

  66. thrillbo says:

    C you are right about us needing to score away at napoli. You know that match will be a true spark plug, waiting to explode into an english disaster night. If we can squeak one away goal that will be crucial. I expect them to come swinging hard and expect to concede at least 1. The key will be limiting their moments and maintaining composure if we do concede. Their fans will be going bonkers at 1-0 and we need to weather that storm and keep playing the game at our pace!

  67. Bill says:

    Henry

    I am still a bit confused because for the last 3 years Ramsey making runs forward and Ozil being forced to drop deeper was a terrible idea and Ramsey was hurting the team and now the same has suddenly become a good tactic.

    Regarding Ozil’s new found pressing and tracking back it’s nice to see and it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. When you see the contrast between now and earlier in the season its easy to understand why Emery was frustrated earlier in the year and ended having to drop Ozil in order to get him motivated. Long term the problem with Ozil from the club’s standpoint is we are paying a very high price for someone who is supposed to be the player who makes everything happen but as his skills have faded he has morphed into a role player. We are paying for Bocelli or Pavarotti but we are getting one of their background singers.

  68. Arsetralian says:

    C,

    I think he might go with Xhaka and Torr for the way trip and drop Ozil
    Not saying right but I can see him doing that
    He should do it for Watford…

  69. Arsetralian says:

    Arsetralian,

    We did need another big lad back there for aerial onslaught without Sokratis

    How small was that Napoli captain!?!
    Kos is not that big but towered over him

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