It was yet another unconvincing performance from the Gunners as they overcame Everton 2-0 at the Emirates.
Pre-match, Arsenal appeared to once again adopt the 4-2-3-1 formation that Emery has favoured this season. That said, the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted more of a 2-3-3-2 formation throughout the match, with Bellerin and, particularly Monreal, occupying advanced positions on the right and left flanks respectively, and Ramsey positioning himself effectively as a second striker.
Possession and key observations
With Everton possessing the counterattacking talents of Walcott, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlson, and the relentless ball recovery expertise of Gueye, it was highly likely that the Merseyside club were going to be happy to cede possession and counter attack in order to play to the strengths of those players. That is precisely how the match unfolded, with Arsenal dominating possession (63% to 37%) but losing the shot count (10 to 9) and ball recovery battle (19 tackles and 9 interceptions to Everton’s 20 tackles and 18 interceptions).
While Arsenal only marginally lost the shot count to Everton, the quality of the goal scoring chances created by Everton far exceeded Arsenal’s. This was predominately due to Everton executing a system of play that created space behind Arsenal’s defence for their pacy forwards to run into, while Arsenal were unnecessarily intricate in their build up play in the final third, which deprived Aubameyang and Lacazette of that same space.
In the end, it was the clinical shooting skills of Lacazette and Aubameyang, Cech’s shot stopping ability, and Everton’s inefficiency in front of goal, which allowed Arsenal to claim the victory.
GK: Cech (10/10)
It was a busy day for Cech, who made a total of 6 saves for the match. Cech also did well when called upon to deal with Everton’s 27 crosses for the game.
RWB: Bellerin (4/10)
It was another poor defensive performance from Bellerin, who failed to demonstrate the necessary defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions) and was again passive in his defending (1 tackle). Bellerin’s defensive positioning was yet again too far advanced, which exposed Arsenal’s right flank to counterattacks from Everton. Bellerin’s primary opponent, Richarlson, took full advantage of this with 4 shots, 2 of which were on target, and 4 crossing attempts during the match. Fortunately for Arsenal, none of Richarlson’s crossing attempts were accurate.
Offensively, Bellerin’s performance was mixed. While the Spaniard again failed to significantly contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play via the dribble (1 successful forward dribble), he did show some attacking initiative with 4 crosses for the match. Unfortunately, none of those crossing efforts were accurate. Bellerin’s repeated selection despite his ongoing poor defensive performances and underwhelming offensive displays, is a blight on Emery’s decision making skills regarding team selection.
RCB: Mustafi (6/10)
It was a mixed defensive effort from Mustafi. Despite demonstrating excellent defensive anticipatory skills (3 interceptions), Mustafi lacked aggression in his defensive approach (1 tackle). That said, Mustafi largely contained his primary opponent, Calvert-Lewin, who failed to produce a shot for the match. Mustafi was also able to best his young English opponent aerially, registering 3 successful aerial duels to Calvert-Lewin’s 0. The German was also solid with respect to clearances (5 for the match).
LCB: Sokratis (4/10)
It was another underwhelming defensive performance from Sokratis. While the Greek international showed solid aggression in his defensive approach (2 tackles), he again failed to demonstrate the necessary defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). This allowed his opponent, Sigurdsson, to influence the game (1 shot, which was off target, 4 key passes, 1 accurate through ball, and 2 successful forward dribbles). Sokratis’ effort to clear his lines was also poor (2 clearances), and the Greek international wasn’t challenged aerially, recording only 1 successful aerial duel to Sigurdsson’s 0.
LWB: Monreal (7/10)
It was a return to form defensively for Monreal, who demonstrated solid defensive anticipatory skills (2 interceptions) and was very aggressive in his defending (4 tackles). As a consequence Monreal was able to keep his opponent Walcott relatively quiet (1 shot, which was on target, 2 key passes, 1 successful forward dribble, and 2 crosses). The only real negative with Monreal’s defensive performance was his positioning, which was again too far advanced, and unnecessarily exposed Arsenal’s left flank to counterattacks from Everton, and in particular Walcott.
Offensively, Monreal’s performance was mixed. While the Spaniard again failed to contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles), he did show some attacking initiative with 3 crosses for the match. Unfortunately, none of those crossing efforts were accurate.
RCDM: Torreira (3/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from the Uruguayan, as he failed to demonstrate sufficient aggression in his defending (1 tackle) and failed to demonstrate the requisite defensive anticipatory skills (1 interception). The one positive was Torreira’s defensive positioning, in that he was disciplined and wasn’t drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch.
Torreira’s offensive performance was also very underwhelming. Despite recording an impressive 86% passing accuracy, he only contributed 2 accurate, long range transitional passes, and failed to complete a successful forward transitional dribble.
LCDM: Xhaka (6/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from Xhaka, who was again not aggressive enough in his defending (0 tackles), and failed to show the required defensive anticipatory skills (1 interception). In terms of his defensive positioning, while Xhaka was again disciplined to a degree, in that he wasn’t drawn into advanced areas of the pitch, he was arguably too left of centre in his positioning, which left Arsenal unnecessarily exposed centrally.
Offensively, Xhaka was, for the second match running, highly productive, recording 82% passing accuracy, and producing a whopping 10 accurate long-range transitional passes. The only real blemish on Xhaka’s offensive performance was once again his failure to significantly contribute in terms of successful forward dribbles for the match (1 successful forward dribble).
RCAM: Ozil (3/10)
It was another poor performance from Ozil, who failed to register a shot or attempt a through ball for the match, and only produced 1 successful forward dribble and 2 key passes. Ozil’s ineffectual performance was best summed up when he was put through on goal by Lacazette and elected to pass to a marked Ramsey rather than shoot, despite the angles favouring a shot from the German. Ozil’s repeated selection despite his ongoing poor offensive displays, is another blight on Emery’s team selection decision making.
CAM: Ramsey (5/10)
It was a mixed performance by Ramsey, who showed limited goal scoring initiative (1 shot) and no desire to penetrate Everton’s rear-guard via the dribble (0 successful dribbles). That said, Ramsey did showed some creativity with his passing (2 key passes and 2 attempted through passes) which resulted in two assists.
LCAM: Aubameyang (5/10)
It was a mixed performance by the Gabonese striker, who showed a good desire to penetrate Everton’s rear-guard via the dribble (3 successful dribbles) and some goal scoring intent, with a goal from his 2 shots during the match. That said, Aubameyang lacked creativity with his passing (0 key passes and 0 attempted through passes). Emery’s ongoing refusal to adopt a formation that would allow Aubameyang and Lacazette to act as a striking duo, and in turn play to their goal scoring strengths, remains frustrating.
CF: Lacazette (6/10)
It was a trying but underwhelming performance by the Frenchman, who had only 1 shot for the match, though it was a fantastic strike for Arsenal’s opening goal. Aerially, Lacazette again showed his battling qualities, beating his taller and more physically imposing opponent, Zouma, 4 successful aerial duels to Zouma’s 2.
Once again Arsenal dominated possession but failed to create high probability goal scoring opportunities. This was largely due to the lack of attacking initiative shown by the chosen attacking midfielders (Ozil, Ramsey and Aubameyang). Credit though needs to go to Xhaka for the volume of accurate long-range transitional passes he was able to produce, and Lacazette for his trying display, despite a lack of service.
Defensively, the Gunners were underwhelming to poor, with Bellerin in particular needing to be dropped after yet another abysmal defensive showing. Only Monreal and Cech can hold their heads high regarding their defensive effort.
With a high number of underperforming and/or consistently unproductive players in Arsenal’s first team squad, it is a difficult situation for Emery to resolve. That said, it is a problem he needs to quickly find a sustainable solution to, as the fortunate run of victories Arsenal have manufactured against West Ham, Cardiff, Newcastle and now Everton, won’t last.
A good starting point for Emery would be to adopt a formation and tactical approach, that accentuates the strengths of Arsenal’s elite attackers (Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil), and reinforce Arsenal’s central midfield with an additional body to protect the defence.
The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.