Everton self destruct against Arsenal
Saturday, August 23, 17:30
Everton were once again left frustrated as this time they conceded twice in the last 7mins to throw away 3pts against Arsenal on Saturday. 2 goals in the first half to Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith gave Everton a commanding 2-0 lead at half time, however, Everton once again struggled in the 2nd half, and Arsenal took full advantage with Aaron Ramsey pegging one back, then 4mins later Giroud nodded home to earn Arsenal a point.
Everton made two changes to the side that drew with Leicester last weekend. Seamus Coleman came in to replace John Stones and Kevin Mirallas was deemed fit enough for his first start of the season replacing Aiden McGeady in the line up. Once again, Everton lined up in the 4-3-3, that was successful against Arsenal last season with Lukaku occupying a right wing position, with Steven Naismith acting as the centre forward.
It was a tight contest early on with both teams looking to get a foot on the ball and control possession, with a lot of the play coming in midfield. Chances were few and far between in the early exchanges, however that changed in the 19th minute as Seamus Coleman, on his first start of the season, found himself unmarked at the back post and nodded him from a Gareth Barry cross to give Everton the advantage.
Everton then had a golden chance to double their lead a couple minutes later as Kevin Mirallas beat the offside trap, however, as he went to shoot, he stumbled as thus dragged his shot wide.
After taking the lead, Everton began to assert their dominance, in a performance that was reminiscent to the match against Arsenal last season, and they found that crucial second goal a minute before half time with Steven Naismith bagging his 2nd goal in 2 games. Everton, who were looking dangerous on the counter, managed to get the ball to Lukaku who was in plenty of space, the Belgian then slid in Naismith, who made no mistake with the finish to give Everton a 2-0 lead heading into half time. Replays did show that Naismith did stray offside, although there were no complaints from the Arsenal defence at the time.
Then, much like against Leicester last weekend, a completely different Everton showed up in the 2nd half, and with Giroud introduced to replace the ineffective Sanchez, gave Arsenal a little bit of presence upfront. The move nearly paid immediate dividends for the Gunners as a ball was chipped over the Everton defence into the path of Giroud, however,the Frenchman blasted his volley over the bar.
The rest of the 2nd half involved Everton dropping deeper and deeper as Arsenal began to control the game, as it appeared as Everton would hold out for the win, Arsenal were given a lifeline 7mins from time, as Cazorla, who had too much time and space, managed to find Ramsey in the box as he prodded home from 5yds out.
This led to a nervy finish at Goodison, as Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure in an attempt to find that equaliser and they found it with 4mins to go as Olivier Giroud managed to head home the equaliser. Once again, Everton gifted the Arsenal midfielders far too much time and space, and the cross managed to find its way to Giroud who made no mistake with the finish and to leave Everton shocked and frustrated, as they once again, had to settle for a draw.
Serious questions need to be asked of the Everton players and staff. This was the 2nd week in a row that Everton completely faded in the 2nd half, and once again poor defending led to Everton throwing away 3pts. The preseason is designed to give the players fitness to play 90mins of fitness, early on they may not be match sharp, however, the Everton players looked cooked after 60mins, which is not acceptable in this league and we are getting rightfully punished. Martinez's substitutions once again need to be criticised as he continued to play with 3 up top late on in the match, instead of introducing another body in the centre of midfield, a position we particularly struggled with Osman, McCarthy and Barry clearly fatigued, he introduced a fresh attacker, which was not needed. It is incredibly frustrating start to the season, Everton should be sitting pretty with 6pts from 6, however, they now find themselves with only 2pts and already behind the 8 ball. What makes it even more infuriating for Everton fans is that this is mirroring last season's start, where Everton drew their first 3 matches, those dropped points early on the season proved to be the difference between 4th and 5th at the end, and with 4pts already dropped in 2 games, the feeling is, we may be left to rue those points come the end of the season. With Chelsea to come next at Goodison, another disappointing result could see us well behind the rest of the pack after only 3 games.