What a rotten few hours yesterday brought to many of us. Christmas was all but cancelled for many English folk as the South East and London were put into a Tier 4 lockdown. Panic ensued as people hit the shops before they closed at midnight whilst others desperately tried to escape England’s capital city before Big Ben struck twelve. This virus simply won’t go away.
Neither will Arsenal’s bad luck. I’m not trying to suggest the team played brilliantly against Everton but I thought we were a little better at times. I felt sorry for captain Rob Holding when his deflection beat Leno. Everton’s second was just ugly. School boy errors in defence and a flappy Leno right after he’d made a really good save to keep the scores at 1-1. Our equaliser having come from the penalty spot. The penalty decision was an easy one to make after Ben Davies caught AMN. Credit to AMN who was chasing down a lost cause at the time. He forced the error by not giving up, something we don’t see enough of.
After the break it was all Arsenal as the possession stats will prove but we didn’t do enough with the ball. We weren’t decisive enough, quick enough, or clinical enough. A bit like the Toots game, actually, very much like the Toots game.
After the match, Mikel Arteta said:
We need to generate more to win football matches. When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more. The boys are absolutely still fighting. The way the boys reacted in the dressing room tells me they have the belief. When you lose lots of games for different reasons it hurts a lot.
We have to be better, it wasn’t about Everton it was about us.
I agree with Arteta because despite beating Chelsea and Leicester City over the last few days, I didn’t think Everton were anything special. They are just more focused and more together. Their players want the ball and fight for it too. Some of our players are just coasting. Elneny looks like his early good form has deserted him, Ceballos is struggling to have the kind of impact he had towards the end of last season and Willian took 45 minutes to wake up.
Arsenal had 58% possession and 13 shots on goal compared to Everton’s 9 which on paper suggests we were in control but stats are false. We pass the ball around but in safe areas. Areas which the opposition know won’t cause a threat. It’s their plan I’m sure, certainly when in a winning position. Most things this Arsenal team try lacks speed and conviction. Our football is tepid, slow and lethargic.
Don’t get me wrong, Tierney, AMN, Saka, Luiz and then Martinelli when he came on, were all trying to make things happen but they couldn’t do it on their own. Eddie isn’t strong enough to play up front on his own and when his big opportunity came, he seemed to panic. He had time and space to pick his moment but his first time rushed strike went wide. Maybe Aubameyang would have buried that chance, although I wouldn’t have bet my home on it.
Mikel Arteta’s team sit just four points off the relegation places. We’re now in a position where we’re relying on other clubs to beat the bottom four teams. If the return of Big Sam kicks West Brom into action, Arsenal could soon be in deeper waters than we are already.
However, once we’ve played Chelsea on Boxing Day, we have to play a few of those clubs below us. Burnley have already beaten us but if we can beat Brighton and West Brom, we can put some space between ourselves and the drop. That ‘if’ though, is huge right now.
It’s hard to below how low our club has sunk. The same club which after a few years of being the best in the League, started to decline in 2005. There have been moments to enjoy over those years, moments of hope but never a real challenge to win the League and despite finishing runners up to Leicester City in 2016, the points margin was in double figures.
Our recruiting has been poor, of that there is no doubt. Not all but certainly in key areas. Too many older players remain, treating the place like a retirement home. Not their fault I know because who wouldn’t sign a new contract when the money is good?
One can only hope that as the next few transfer windows come and go, the old, and somewhat bewildered looking players, move on to pastures new and in their place will be younger, more eager and more passionate players who just want to play the game and fight for every precious point this League has to offer. After all, it’s not the ones we have now who letting the club down.
Mikel Arteta’s attention now turns to the League Cup and Manchester City on Tuesday evening.
A bit of transfer gossip from The Mirror. Barcelona want Hector Bellerin. Good, they can have him….
See you in the comments.