Apart from a strong opening 15 minutes, Arsenal looked tired and confused for most of the game at Goodison Park.
The first 10 minutes was more of less just Arsenal getting forward and passing the ball smoothly between Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. However, soon, Everton started to warm into the game and get forward themselves, with Romelu Lukaku proving to be a good match for Laurent Koscielny.
Like most teams when they visit the Emirates, the Toffees decided to sit incredibly deep from the onset, letting our defenders have plenty of time on the ball while smothering our midfield. The difference was, we weren’t at the Emirates, we were at Goodison Park and you could sense the home crowd were getting increasingly frustrated.
The issue with teams sitting deep against us is, it’s actually pretty effective as we tend to run out of ideas until someone gives us a kick up the back-side. However, this season, fortunately, Arsenal have a little more creativity. Plus, Nacho Monreal appears to be regaining some form, making tearing runs away from his man and offering us an escape route when we’re penned in.
Arsenal were given a free-kick due to a nasty tackle on Francis Coquelin, which Alexis Sanchez took. It took a bit of deflection but went in; 1-0 to the Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez scores his 12th Premier League goal of the season, no player has scored more.
With just a little bit of help. pic.twitter.com/qAjOzkYVB1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 13, 2016
With the newly fit Hector Bellerin having the freedom to push forward, the home team had SOME joy down the right flank. However, Gabriel was on hand to put in some effective blocks. If Everton were going to score at this point, it was going to be from a Lukaku or Lennon wonderstrike.
Towards the end of the first half, the Toffees had finally decided to show up, with Arsenal suddenly appearing a little sloppy out of possession and Mesut Ozil just not at the races in midfield.
An Everton cross into our box that all our players, including Nacho Monreal who should have been all over it, missed, showed us that we were only one goal to the good. The Toffees were very much still in the clash.
Sure enough, just before the break, Seamus Coleman headed in a Leighton Baines cross. 1-1.
What became quickly apparent, however, was how little protection the Arsenal players were getting from referee, Mark Clattenburg. Once little nudges and trips went unpunished, the Toffees felt free to full-on kick and hack our players, while trying to intimidate Ozil.
The second half started in a similar way to the way the first ended.
Arsenal found it hard to deal with Everton’s long balls and unnecessary aggression.
At the other end, Coquelin laid a cross on a plate for Ozil, who was leaning back and missed the shot completely, skying the ball over the bar, which is unlike the playmaker this season.
At least Everton were being just as wasteful, with Ross Barkley going slightly wide minutes later at the other end.
Slowly, Arsenal began to turn the screw with Coquelin and Monreal putting in some lovely crosses along the floor. However, we were still finding it hard to spot red shirts, it seems, and Everton shut us out relatively easily.
Giroud on, Walcott off.
Iwobi on, Oxlade-Chamberlain off. #afc
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 13, 2016
Everton had a spell of pressure in which they continually got forward and it was just pure luck – and Koscielny – that Arsenal didn’t go behind sooner. However, the introduction of Giroud and Iwobi appeared to dampen this slightly. Only slightly. The Gunners could still barely get hold of the ball, let alone keep it by this stage.
Sure enough, minutes from the final whistle, a free-kick from Everton, which initially led to a fantastic save from Petr Cech, was headed into the net by Ashley Williams who, until this point, had had a pretty terrible match.
2-1. Arsenal’s first loss since the opening day of the season.