The Arsenal v Everton fixture is one that has favoured the gunners very much over the years, they’ve beaten the toffees more than they’ve beaten any other team in the division, the fixture has also produced more goals than any other fixture in Premier League history, dominant is the word normally associated with Arsenal when they face Everton, even though you might want to describe last Sunday’s win as one of sheer luck rather than a deserved victory.
The big news ahead of the fixture for Arsenal was that Lucas Torreira was named in the starting lineup, much to delight of the Arsenal faithful. The Uruguayan made his first start in the Premier League since his move from Sampdoria in the summer and his impact was clearly felt. The energy, control and balance he brought to the midfield was admirable, his work rate and immediate eye for the pass evokes memories of Gilberto Silva and we all know how good Gilberto was.
Even though he picked up a yellow early on that didn’t stop him from getting in the thick of things. It’s obvious that he doesn’t quiet boast of the playmaking abilities of Santi Cazorla just yet but the balance he brings to the team is one that the Spaniard use to bring. Lucas Torreira’s performance over the weekend is one that has been bereft of Arsenal teams for some time and with more game time and guidance from Unai Emery things could only get better.
“We are happy with the goalkeepers. Petr has big experience, big quality. He started the season very well. Today he showed us he’s playing well” – Unai Emery on Petr Cech
The only player on the day better than Lucas was Petr Cech, if not for a couple of world class saves in that first half Arsenal would have been down by at least three. Dominic Calvert-Lewin should have scored early in the half when he came one on one with the Arsenal shotstopper, Cech was equally brilliant in stopping former Arsenal man Theo Walcott from scoring.
There has been a general sense of apathy towards Petr Cech from the start of the season, mainly because he’s been caught in two minds with the ball at his feet sometimes but performances like the one against Everton on Sunday is why he’s still Arsenal’s safest pair of hands.
Lacazette gave Arsenal the lead with an absolute stunner but even Unai Emery admitted he was just about to take him off “We needed to change in this moment, but I decided to stop it and think again who we needed next. [Would it have been Lacazette?] That is not important, but yes, maybe. Football is like that.”
The conundrum of who should play centrally as Arsenal’s no. 9 still beckons, Aubameyang was preferred as the lone man upfront early on in the season but Lacazette has played his way into the starting eleven with a series of good performances, Cardiff City away being the turning point. This of course means that Aubameyang has been forced wide in the last couple of games but once again we all saw that that’s not his best position. He was caught out on the left most times in that first half trying to get crosses in rather than being the one on the end of the crosses. This is a man who’s scored 114 goals since the start of the 2015/16 season most coming from the lone striker role.
The stats however, also speak to the fact that both strikers have scored in three of the last five Premier League matches they have started together in so they clearly have an understanding of each other’s play even both players admit to that fact. It remains to be seen how Unai Emery manages the striker situation, having two top strikers at his disposal, quite the headache, that, but that’s a good headache to have isn’t it?
It’s fair to say that Arsenal didn’t start well against Everton; they haven’t started games particularly well this season, especially in the Premier League. It’s fair to say that the gunners have not yet clicked into gear this season. The defense was once again a major concern in those first fifteen minutes on Sunday. There are still snippets of the old Arsenal in Unai’s new Arsenal and that will obviously take time. Arsenal will now have to hope that Sokratis’ injury in that first half isn’t at all serious. He’s been the brightest spot in that defence this season, his leadership and control in the heart of the defence has been glaring and that has been a major asset for the team.
Arsenal’s next six features
Brentford [Carabao Cup] H
Watford [PL] H
Qarabag FK [EL] A
Fulham [PL] A
Leicester [PL] H
Sporting Lisbon [EL] A
Arsenal have however managed to pick up five wins from their last five matches, you can’t ask more, you can only beat what’s in front of you and that’s exactly what they are doing. Arsenal’s next six fixtures are equally as favourable as their previous five, they could go up to fourth if they beat Watford at the Emirates next weekend. The onus is on Unai Emery and his charges to keep winning the games as they come, most importantly, keep improving, where it takes them thereon is anyone’s guess.