There was so much comprising the back drop to Arsenal’s game against Everton that there was an embarrassment of riches. Mikel Arteta was a former Arsenal and Everton player, whom it’s rumoured was wanted by the Toffees to replace Marco Silva.
Carlo Ancelotti was said to be a consideration for Arsenal’s outgoing coach, Unai Emery and Alex Iwobi, up until the twilight of last summer, was an Arsenal player before switching to Merseyside.
The last time both sides met, they played out a dull, goalless draw with both incoming coaches looking on from their respective perches in the crowd. In terms of their fortunes since their appointments, Arteta and Ancelotti have made interesting viewing, with the Italian having the rub of the green, which was reflected in their league positions before kick off.
As for the game against Everton, Arsenal went behind to a spectacular Calvert-Lewin effort who pulled off a half bicycle kick after around 49 seconds. It was made to look better by a dysfunctional Arsenal defence who failed to close down or mark with any conviction.
However, it was noticeable that Arsenal picked themselves up and went back to a slick passing game that relied heavily on the invention and drive of Ozil, Xhaka and Ceballos but it was the Arsenal youngsters that got the gunners back on terms (27)
Ceballos picked out Xhaka, who provided a delightful ball down the left for Saka. The highly sought after midfielder floated the ball across the box and onto the high flying right foot of Eddie Nketiah. It was an accomplished goal, the type of strike from a seasoned campaigner and I’m starting to believe that we are finally beginning to see his potential after a number of false starts.
Both Nketiah and Saka performed incredibly well and their confidence is growing by the game. Wenger’s academy prospects are going to be prominent in the next two or three seasons, holding on to them may be another issue.
Meanwhile, back to the game, Arsenal nudged in front (33) when Luiz split the Everton defence with a precise pass for Aubameyang to bury in the net. The Congolese striker appears to have his mojo back in front of goal at a crucial time of the season.
Then Arsenal’s defence went for a tea break without telling anyone before the equivalent of football ping pong saw Richarlison bundle the ball past a dumbstruck Leno. The German shot stopper will surely reflect on his geriatric movement in his own area, he should have smothered the ball and snuffed out the threat but it somehow got past him.
In his defence, there were eight other players in red and white and not one of them looked alert to the danger, but the defenders and Leno would eventually redeem themselves in the second half.
Aubameyang got Arsenal ahead again after 20 plus seconds of the restart, managing to outsmart the defence with a header from a Pepe cross. From that point Arsenal had to nail down the hatches and stop the two most potent threats posed by Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
Calvert- Lewis had a great opportunity when the Brazilian’s downward header found him with just Leno to beat, but the German got his right hand to it. It was a crucial, instinctive save and all the more important because there was no sign of a flag for offside.
Arteta’s ability to inspire his players is reaping rewards and although some fans were claiming that he was either the wrong choice for the role or that he lacked positive impact, they may want to reconsider. Arsenal look to be establishing a style of play and spirit that allows them to fight when there’s a genuine need. The gunners are only four points off Manchester United and only three behind Tottenham. It’s all to play for and Arsenal have their tails up at the moment, the next few weeks could be very interesting.