Arsenal lose at Everton as away form threatens hopes of a top-four finish
Gunners have no response to early goal from veteran defender as Unai Emery's men are beaten on the road again
07 April, 2019
EVERTON 1 (Jagielka, 10)
IF Arsenal finish in a Champions League place at the end of the season, it’s unlikely to have been inspired by their form away from home.
The Gunners’ struggles – they’ve lost seven of their last 11 away matches in all competitions – continued as they were beaten at Goodison Park this afternoon by an early goal from veteran Everton defender Phil Jagielka.
It was a spirited performance from the home side, while Arsenal were sluggish, unsettled by the Toffees’ pressing and reluctant to compete.
The defeat means Unai Emery’s side remain in fourth, missing an opportunity to leapfrog rivals Spurs in third.
Despite the setback, the Arsenal boss insisted that finishing in the top four is in their own hands.
He said: “We knew it was going to be difficult.
“Today was a great opportunity to take three points and go third in the table. But after this result we are fourth. We need, in 38 matches, to be consistent. Today we lost this consistency.
“It depends on us, and it depends on other teams, but after this result we can’t be negative. It’s three points less, but it’s in our hands.
“We need to continue taking chances to be in the top four.”
After starting brightly, the Gunners went behind in the 10th minute, failing to deal with a long throw-in that led to a penalty box scramble and allowing 36-year-old Jagielka – a late replacement for Michael Keane in Everton’s starting line-up – to finish from close range.
Arsenal looked rattled by the goal and were never able to establish an attacking rhythm.
Mesut Ozil – who was substituted with 15 minutes left, and later appeared to throw a coat at the Everton coaching staff – was typically composed but lacked urgency against a side who were busily denying space. Alexandra Lacazette had the north Londoners’ only chance of note in the first half, going clear down the left in the opening few minutes before being snuffed out by several lunging challenges as he shaped to shoot – referee Kevin Friend waved away claims for a penalty.
Emery made a double change at the break, bringing Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on for Sead Kolasinac and Mohamed Elneny.
Ramsey was instantly influential, and should have done better when presented with a chance from just 10 yards out that he volleyed over. But 10 minutes of Arsenal pressure fizzled out, and Everton started to regain control.
Approaching the hour mark, with Emery becoming increasingly animated on the touchline, Lacazette went close with a header from a deep cross, before Everton’s Bernard brought an excellent close-range save out of Bernd Leno at the other end. Henrikh Mkhitaryan then fired a shot just wide as he cut in from the left, but Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was rarely troubled as the Gunners failed to carve out any further chances of note.
Four of Arsenal’s final six Premier League matches are away from the Emirates Stadium. If they are to snatch what, just a few weeks ago, seemed an unlikely Champions League spot, Emery must quickly find a solution to his team’s brittle performances on the road.
EVERTON: Pickford, Jagielka, Zouma, Gomes, Sigurdsson (Davies, 90+1), Digne, Gueye, Bernard (Lookman, 88), Coleman, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison (Walcott, 79).
Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Tosun.
ARSENAL: Leno, Elneny (Ramsey, 46), Sokratis, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Ozil (Iwobi, 74), Maitland-Niles, Monreal, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Kolasinac (Aubameyang, 46).
Subs not used: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Suarez, Jenkinson.