Ending the season on a low note
Everton’s 2016-17 season can easily be described as up and down. A blistering start was followed by a serious down turn and finally ended with a mixed bag of good or shoddy performances. Everton’s performance against Arsenal was certainly the latter.
The real shame of this match was that Everton had their fair share of opportunities to seize control. Going down one goal early in an away match is never an ideal situation, but Everton were bolstered by Laurent Koscielny’s 14th minute red card. Despite this advantage, Everton struggled to put their mark on the match in the first half. Arsenal continued to control the match, despite being a man down.
The second half was better from Everton. A 58th minute penalty from Romelu Lukaku brought the match within striking distance and Everton were making real progress in Arsenal’s half. A steady stream of crosses put Arsenal’s defense on the back foot and Everton looked primed to tie up the match. But true to Everton’s form this season, they were unable to get much help from their supporting cast. This was a disappointing result against an Arsenal team that was low on morale.
More shambolic defending from Everton
This match perfectly encapsulated Everton’s biggest weakness, their defense. Worst of all, Arsenal’s first two goals were entirely preventable. The tactics may be there for Roanld Koeman’s men, but the talent is absent.
As a fan of Everton, I like Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams. But as someone who writes about their performance on a weekly basis, there is little to like about their partnership. As we’ve seen this season, Williams is at his best with a mobile defender at his side, Ramiro Funes Mori for example. With Jagielka at the side of Williams, their age and lack of athleticism is exposed.
Now, back to Arsenal’s first two goals. These were not beautiful, well struck goals, but instead were ugly scrambling ones that should have been snuffed out by Everton’s defense. In both situations, the defenders and midfielders seemed listless, unaware and indifferent about preventing Arsenal from scoring. None of Everton’s players were where they should’ve been and Arsenal were justly rewarded as a result.
A potential farewell for Everton’s stars
As rumors swirl around Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, there remains a good possibility that this was the last match for Everton for both players. Lukaku seems all but certain to leave Merseyside this summer, but the fate of Barkley remains in limbo.
Both players certainly has their moments in the season finale. Lukaku had a number of solid chances to score, and did score Everton’s lone goal. Barkley, who came on early in the first half seemed to jump start Everton’s attack and was in the middle of a number of scoring chances.
These two players have been the center piece of Everton’s attack for the last three seasons and the thought of them leaving the team is bittersweet. Despite glaring frustration with both players, it has been a treat to see them grow as players over the last few years.
Only time will tell what becomes of both players over the summer, but if this should be the last match for Everton for both players, then it has been a real pleasure.