All effort, no quality
In this match, Everton were borderline dominant in the first half against an Arsenal team struggling under new manager Unai Emery. Arsenal’s slow play from the back was red meat for Everton’s aggressive pressing strategy early on. Interceptions and quick counter attacking moves put Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Theo Walcott in positions to score, but both failed to convert on their chances.
Calvert-Lewin in particular was especially poor as his lack of quality in the final third was painfully evident. But that same sentiment goes for any of the three Everton strikers this season. Calvert-Lewin, Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse all have insanely high work rates, but none of them have the quality in the final third that this team desperately needs. So far this season, Everton’s striker-by-committee approach has been a resounding failure.
Predictable second-half collapse
Arsenal’s second-half surge almost seemed inevitable after Everton failed to capitalize on their scoring chances early on. Had Everton put away one or two goals, the momentum that was on their side throughout the first half could have permanently shifted in their favor. But Arsenal have quality players and more often than not, that will be the difference maker.
Despite the issues that Arsenal have had this season there is an undeniable gap in player quality between them and Everton. Take for example the two goal scorers yesterday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. These are world-class strikers who are some of the top players in the world at their position. Even if the team around them is struggling, they are going to put away the chances that come their way.
Because of that stark gap in quality, Arsenal’s comeback felt almost expected. Marco Silva gambled by pressing Arsenal and it almost paid off. In the end it was unrealistic to think that this high risk strategy could hold up for 90 minutes, especially when Everton couldn’t grab the lead when they had the chance.
Idrissa Gueye was brilliant
It’s a shame to see such a wonderful performance go to waste in a disappointing loss, but Idrissa Gueye looked absolutely brilliant in this match. The high press that Everton employed in this match seems to be the type of strategy that Gueye lives for.
Gueye was a big reason for Everton’s early success in this match, he may not be the man making the final pass into goal, but he’s usually the player that has won the ball for his team in the first place. His work intercepting the ball and pressing Arsenal in their own half led to a number of breaks for Everton. He is always swarming across the midfield, attacking the ball and was one of the few bright spots in what ended up being a disappointing match.