Arsenal 0 – 0 Everton: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

In the preview I’d mentioned that no team apart from United has won five games in a row in the Premier League. Add that to Everton’s form and the fact that they’d drawn away to City and Tottenham and the odds for a stalemate at the Emirates seemed favourable. That said, if I had to put money, it’d have been on a score draw. The love-all result was a bit of a surprise.

Broadly speaking, it was down to the slightly conservative nature of Arsenal’s play, particularly in the first half. Everton came out with a very high intensity as was expected but the Gunners did well to keep them out in the initial exchanges. Moyes’ side have created a number of quality chances every time I’ve seen them play this season even if they haven’t always converted those chances into goals and results. In this game the Gunners really minimized the opportunities they could create.

Apart from that early chance for Pienaar and a couple of other moments, there wasn’t much from the visitors in the form of incision or goal-threat.

Wenger’s side were disciplined, fairly well structured, and worked hard for each other. Examples of this were visible throughout the game but the most obvious ones were the manner in which the right flank was defended. Sagna was rarely left alone and Everton’s attempts to overlap were thwarted as the Gunners tracked runs diligently. Even when the Toffees got 3 or 4 bodies in the wide areas to cause an overload and manufacture space with clever combinations, the Gunners quickly moved wide to close it down. Everton weren’t able to put many balls into the box as a result of this.

Similarly, Arsenal players did a very good job of attacking set-pieces and other balls delivered into the box. The visitors had a clear physical advantage but they weren’t able to use that as the hosts covered all the bases.

This defensive solidity came at the cost of attacking impetus. The Gunners just couldn’t get enough bodies forward on a consistent basis, particularly in the first half. The total number of opportunities created was quite limited and, at least in part, Everton also deserve credit for denying Arsenal any space in the central areas.

The Gunners were not able to bring Walcott into the game as he was tightly marked and never found room to run into. On a handful of occasions when he did get a glimpse of an opening it was crudely but cleverly shut down via a foul. The ref was lenient – Fellaini should have received a yellow card in the first 10 minutes and Gibson could easily have been sent off – but we’ve seen enough of the English game to know this is a part of the equation that Arsenal just have to learn to deal with.

As was mentioned in the preview the visitors did a good job of shepherding the hosts towards the flanks before winning the balls in those areas. They also forced Arsenal into playing the inherently inefficient crossing game.

Of course, some might say that a cross should have resulted in a goal and Giroud missed a really good chance when Ramsey put a delectable offering on a plate for him. The Frenchman overcooked his shot, which was a sign of inexperience. He went for power and placement when all he needed to do was cushion the ball towards goal. Howard had committed and an experienced striker would have been alert to that. Giroud’s actual age is that of a player at the peak of his powers but we must not forget he is a late bloomer and there are many raw edges to his game.

Another case of inexperience was when Oxlade-Chamberlain tried putting the ball in the striker’s path when taking a shot at goal was a good option. These are not easy choices though and the youngsters intentions can be applauded. Walcott has shown better decision making skills in such situations as he’s gained more playing time and the same will happen with Alex.

There were maybe a couple of other half chances but not much else in the form of creativity or penetration from the Gunners. They lacked offensive efficiency that we saw against West Brom and a little bit of luck which helped them against Norwich. That’s the reason I’d said the law of averages was bound to catch up and it’s also the reason why few teams, however hyped up or expensively assembled, win five or more in a row.

Obviously, the problem of balance – something I’ve discussed all season – is not going to go away any time soon. I’m still not convinced Wenger knows what his best eleven is with this squad and the kind of combinations that are needed to solve the different problems posed by the unique styles of opposing teams. In many ways this feels like another rebuilding process where a lot of players are inexperienced and have a lot to learn about the game just as Wenger has something to learn about their individual attributes and the way they come together.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Did well to close Pienaar down early on. Had a fairly comfortable game otherwise, which is a big compliment to his teammates.

Sagna: Very busy day for the Frenchman and he was mostly excellent. Did lose Pienaar once for that early chance. Crossing could have been better but it was often rushed due to factors outside his control. Did get good support as mentioned earlier but he deserves credit for controlling Everton’s strong offensive flank.

Mertesacker: Got into very good covering positions in the box which was a direct result of intelligent reading of the game. Passing was steady and safe.

Koscielny: Another player who had good presence in and around the box. Wasn’t tested as much as I’d expected. Was surprised he didn’t push up with the ball a bit more.

Gibbs: Good work rate up and down the flank. Was involved in a number of duels and did well in the defensive ones. Almost created one very good chance (no one attacked the six yard box).

The defenders had a good game and were largely in control of things against a physical side that is usually dominant in the air. They were forced into some desperate long punts early in the game but slowly gained greater control over their passing.

Arteta: Didn’t see as much of the ball as he usually does, particularly in the first half when Everton’s energy was palpable. Defensive support work was excellent and was mostly conservative with his passing choices and positioning.

Wilshere: Better than his effort in the last game. Despite that, there were a number of uncharacteristically misplaced passes and heavy touches. Needs time to regain sharpness but does Wenger have that luxury?

Ramsey: Continues his good work all over the pitch and is maturing into a fine box-to-box player. Created an excellent chance for Giroud, got on the end of a couple of opportunities and helped the defence on a consistent basis. It’s tough to call anyone the MotM after such a game but Ramsey would be a good choice if one had to be made.

Cazorla: Another player who made some uncharacteristically loose passes. Some of his individual skills, particularly under pressure from three or four players, were a delight to watch but he didn’t seem on top of his game.

The midfielders did a good job of supporting the defence but they were not able to break down Everton’s organization.

Giroud: As mentioned earlier, the chances he missed were more down to inexperience. Work rate was again exceptional. Showed for the ball on a consistent basis and did not shy away from physical battles. Passing could have been more composed.

Walcott: Saw very little of the ball. Was tied to right flank for most of his time on the pitch. Was on the receiving end of some bad fouls. Lost many of his attempts to take players on.

As I’ve noted on many occasions, Arsenal are more threatening when they can get the wide players moving horizontally as well as vertically. Didn’t happen in this game.

Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain got into a great position and made the wrong choice. Podolski can do much better. Monreal gave away a cheap foul late in the game that could have proven costly.

Wenger: Will probably be disappointed with the draw but also pleased with the team’s defending. Still has to find a way to get more out of players like Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal’s set-pieces also have a lot of room for improvement.

11 Responses to Arsenal 0 – 0 Everton: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Busie says:

    Follow top gooner,I follow back 100%

  2. Busie says:

    Deep analysis as usual,Arsenal would have won the match with a striker who is a poacher.kudos to Giroud all the same for always showing up.bring on Fulham

  3. Kenyan Gunner says:

    I have always been a fan Desi and I look forward to your analysis after each game, no matter how late it is because I believe you are a true GUNNER AT HEART but a LOVER AND PURIST OF FOOTBALL AT FIRST……I wanted your honest opinion of Giroud as a CF when compared to other cf forwards in the league, Europe and the World irrespective of whether this is his first season and whether you think he will develope in to the world class striker like the greats who have won the Arsenal shirt before him??? And if you had a choice of any player in the World apart from the obvious amazing 2 (Ronaldo and Messi) to be in the front who would you prefer???.

  4. […] In the preview I’d mentioned that no team apart from United has won five games in a row in the Premier League. Add that to Everton’s form and the fact that they’d drawn away to City and Tottenham and the odds for a stalemate at the Emirates seemed favourable. That said, if I had to […] …read more […]

  5. cesc says:

    lot of thought goes into your repots desi. but you are being kind to some of our players. wenger should have made the sub’s sooner.

    you talk a great deal about evertons tactics and the way they play.
    but shouldn’t wenger have anticipated evertons attempt to kick us off the pitch style of play and had a contingencie plan to counter it.

    all he really had to say to his players is everytime you get fouled role about on the floor for 5 minutes. let our trainer come on for a while to relieve his boredom.
    this is not good television for the sky paymasters and the ref will soon get fed up with it and do something about it.
    this tactic applies to ever team we play. it will work everytime if their is contact, because no one can say a player isn’t injured if there is contact.
    this will put a stop to other teams kicking us off the pitch.

  6. Pat Rice says:

    Thanks for your views, I was at the game and as long as we are playing without a top class center forward we will struggle. if you take away all Girouds goals we would be 2 points worse off, if you take away Rosickys 2 goals we would be 3 points worse off. It says it all for me. We will struggle again next season unless money is invested in a class forward. Giroud is slow, always caught on his heels and will never be able to take players on. its amazing that Gervinho, Ramsey have had so much stick and yet he has not, reminds me of how deluded we all became about super Nicholas Bendtner untill reality kicked in and we realised he was a joke. oh well at least Giroud works hard!!!!!!

  7. Winner says:

    My honest opinion is that Wilshere and Walcot were the weak links in the team. When defenses are tight, I find AOC more effective than Walcot. However, in this game if Rosicky was not fully fit I would have opted for AOC playing in the mid field. Is that not his preferred position? And on top of that the boy is not easily pushed of the ball. Wilshere tends to take too many touches. I was impressed with the commitment but frustrated with the inefficiency in front of goals. However, the potential as well as the weaknesses in the team are becoming more and more apparent by the day. There is definitely more to come from this team.

  8. Deji says:

    Hello Desi, as usual very good analysis. However, Desi, like the individual who had posted a comment earlier I will like 2 know wot your opinion on Giroud is. Cause I personally haven’t been convinced that he is a striker who can give us 20-25 goals a season, and eventually push us 2 a title. To me for player of his size he doesn’t seem strong enough, or better still he is bossed of the ball 2 easily.

    • Cupsui says:

      I think he will be that striker (he is not far away already 17 goals in 45 games not bad for a first season player). he is strong enough, his touch is first class, he is probably the best in the air of any forward in the EPL (have you seen his leap).

      I have noticed a change in tactics in the EPL this season, especially the 2nd half and it is something arsenal have been employing a little too. The DM of teams spends a great deal of time covering the lone striker. Generally a lone striker is back to goal receiving the ball from a defender or midfielder. The first touch usually slightly towards their own goal. To counter this DM are dropping back and disrupting this touch (a great tactic if you ask me) and lone strikers are struggling to keep possession as they often have 3 players on them. This is not just happening to Giroud, I have seen it happen to adebeyor, RvP and Torres among others and Arteta has been doing it well at times to our opponents. To counter this we need to use our midfield better and draw the DM back to where he should be…

      Giroud is still adjusting as Desi has stated inexperience may have played its role in the missing of his chances. But he has done very well in his first season in the EPL and he is only getting better. A bad game is one thing, it happens to all players, certain Arsenal fans just seem very quick to correlate that to the player being poor (after the norwich game everyone was saying Jack isn’t good enough to be in the side! loco!!). Giroud’s second half against Norwich is one of the main reasons we won that game…

      Thats my opinion anyway

  9. Block4Gooner says:

    Good report as usual. Right at the end you mention set pieces. It is staggering that in 90 mins we probably get on a average 10 corners and free kicks but very rarely profit from them. On the other hand defending set pieces often lead to huge problems if not goals. Any reason we blatantly are poor at set pieces?

  10. Cupsui says:

    This was not giroud’s best game by a long shot. His first chance was a great chance a little harder than it looked as he was at full stretch and naturally the side of the foot will turn it wide…however he still should have buried it. His second chance was only created through a perfect first touch, but again she should have buried that too…

    overall one of his poorer displays as he needs to score. But people such as Pat Rice above need to look a lot harder than simple stat like that. Goals change games, without his goals we would be a lot worse than two points less…that is simplistic analysis at its absolute. Something i come to this website to avoid!

    Desi thanks again. Obviously a busy time for you, despite that you have done another great job of analysing a tough encounter…

    might have been different if a 2nd yellow was given to Gibson, but who knows? Does it seem that the refs are getting more lenient as the season rolls on to anyone else?!

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