Blunt Toffees lack cutting edge
Once again Everton stroked the ball around the Emirates pitch in pretty circles and patterns but failed to put the Arsenal defence under any sustained pressure, mustering just two shots on target all game. That policy is fine if you go in front and have something to defend; but once Olivier Giroud slid home the opener in rendered it useless. What makes the situation more worrying is the fact Everton have played the same way all season, with Roberto Martinez showing little inclination to change.
Barkley’s struggles continue
Second season syndrome has affected Ross Barkley more than anyone else, not helped by Martinez’s tendency to shunt him out wide where he is clearly less effective. At the Emirates on Sunday he appeared to play behind Lukaku as part of a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 formation. It didn’t work. His effort is not to be questioned, but everything he tried to do didn’t come off and he once again looked a shadow of the player we saw last season.
Martinez running out of excuses
The manager’s relentless positivity is wearing thin with each passing defeat. Just six wins from 27 games is frankly not good enough and serious questions need to be asked about Martinez’s management, regardless of their exploits in the Europa League. His achievements last season means he deserves the chance to turn things around, but he is running out of time and excuses.
Garbutt a rare positive – but his contract situation is a worry
The only bright spot from Sunday’s game was the performance of Luke Garbutt. After a spritely display against Young Boys on Thursday the 21-year-old was once again the standout player in a blue shirt. This season wouldn’t be this season though without a huge negative and in this case it’s Garbutt’s expiring contract. With his deal up at the end of the season Everton need to urgently tie him down long-term. There is a worryingly little movement on the issue though so Evertonians should brace themselves for bad news.
Relegation six-pointers lie ahead
Sunday’s game was Everton’s last trip to a top six club this season, though that only serves to crank up the pressure for their remaining fixtures. Victories for West Brom and Palace this weekend have them further down the league and they can’t assume the six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three will last forever. They have to take at least three points from games against Stoke and Newcastle this week or they will be in serious trouble. They shouldn’t be in this position of course, but now isn’t the time for recriminations. Now is the time for getting the results they need to stay in the league before the inquest into this sorry mess of a season can begin in earnest this summer.