Ronald Koeman’s future as Everton manager is hanging in the balance after his side we’re thrashed 5-2 by Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Wayne Rooney gave the hosts the lead in the 12th minute with a curling effort from outside the box, but Arsenal pulled level when Nacho Monreal was first to react before half-time.
Arsenal we’re quickest out of the blocks in the second half and took the lead through a Mesut Ozil header before Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a second yellow card.
An uphill task became a mountain to climb for Everton when Alexandre Lacazette scored the third and with Everton chasing shadows for the final 20 minutes, Aaron Ramsey added the gloss to the scoreline.
Substitute Oumar Niasse capitalised on a loose back pass to cut the deficit in injury time but it was nothing more than a consolation, and Alexis Sanchez added further woe to those Evertonians still watching on with his first Premier League goal of the season.
It was Everton’s third consecutive defeat at Goodison Park while Koeman has presided over the club’s worst start to a season for nine years; The Toffees winning just 2 from their last 13 games in all competitions.
Time to put us all out of our misery
There have been calls for Koeman’s head for the best part of a month now, and while those in the ‘in’ camp will point to a tough run of fixtures, lack of a proven centre forward and needing time for players to gel, there has been little indication in that time that the proverbial corner is about to be turned.
Some players have come out in Koeman’s defence but such public backing is par for the course, and other than a spirited fightback (literally) against Lyon for 15 minutes that ultimately ended in defeat, their on-field performances suggest something is amiss.
It may seem early in the season to be changing manager but where are the signs that things will get better? You expect to see an improvement from game to game but if anything, performances and results are getting worse instead of better. Even the very best managers in the game can’t expect to keep their jobs while in such an abysmal run of form. Sorry Ron, but it’s time we were all put out of our misery.
Players lack the belief to win games
It was probably fair of Koeman to say in his post match comments that one of the only positives from the game was that his side made a good start. They made a decent start, made better by Rooney’s opener. And despite still being in the game at 2-1, Everton looked like a side that’d given up.
The task of rescuing a point was made worse by Gueye’s dismissal but there was a depressing sense of inevitability about the result in the 68th minute. The fans knew it, the players knew it and going by his desperate substitutions in the 74th minute, Koeman knew it too.
The saying goes that the buck stops with the manager. Yet the players aren’t exempt from blame and quite simply the XI on the pitch aren’t doing enough to win games. They have an unwanted knack of gifting opportunities to the opposition while creating next to nothing themselves, and fundamentally such a combination gives you no chance of winning football matches.
Arsenal played well, but where was the fight?
Some snappy tackles and full-blooded challenges in the first 20 minutes aside, Everton let a weak Arsenal side off the hook. After his team clinched a 2-1 win against the Gunners last week, Troy Deeney made it very clear what Watford’s game plan was: get in their faces and see if they’re up for the fight.
Usually they’re not, and Everton never really did enough to provoke Arsenal into their own collapse. Dominic Calvert-Lewin did his best to be the physical target man but he needed the backing of his teammates and when Gueye was sent off in the second half, any fight still left in the hosts had disappeared.
That The Toffees were too soft and failed to exploit one of the most well-known weaknesses in the league, is a reflection of Koeman’s inability to prepare his team for the opposition, as well as the player’s lack of courage.
Arsenal to their credit played very well: they pass it well and their fluidity in midfield and attack, as well as their ability to find space, is the biggest weapon in their arsenal. But Everton’s failure to show the kind of aggression that helped Watford beat the same side last week is typical of how out of sorts they really are.
The stands started to empty soon after Arsenal’s third goal and Goodison was less than half full by the time Sanchez added the fifth. I’ve never seen the place as empty as that during 90 minutes of ‘competitive’ football.
Instead of the usual anger and frustration boiling up in the Gwladys Street, there was complete apathy. Evertonians have become numbed by the defeats, the disappointing draws and the kind of hapless performances being served up. There was a sombre mood in the final 10 minutes; a mass acceptance that the situation is a dire one. It felt like the end.
Pickford at least can hold his head high
Even with 11 men, Everton were carved open on a number of occasions by the busy movement and slick passing of Sanchez, Ozil and co. But for the divine intervention of Jordan Pickford the score could have been a lot worse. At 1-0 he made a string of fine saves (8 in the first half), coming out quickly, making himself big and blocking the path to goal. Among a shower of shite, Pickford has been the sole ray of sunshine.
According to Sky Sports statistician Matt Cheetham, Everton’s number one completed more passes than any of his teammates for the second time this season. We often hear how stats can be misused to present a skewed version of events but if that stat doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Everton’s current predicament, I don’t know what will.