Arsenal travelled to Everton on Sunday to face the team directly below them in the Premier League table, who were aiming to bring an end to the Gunners' long run of qualifying for consecutive Champions League campaigns.
It was Everton who picked up a deserved 3-0 win, with Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku scoring the goals to give Everton a well-deserved and comfortable-looking lead at half-time, before an own goal from Mikel Arteta completed the scoring.
|Everton Player Ratings|
|Arsenal Player Ratings|
Quick first-half analysis
Everton started quicker, with far more energy, and that set the tone for the opening 40 minutes or so of the game. Roberto Martinez's men were quick out the blocks with a dipping volley from Leon Osman after less than two minutes, and the chances have almost entirely fallen at the same end.
Time and time again Arsenal have been caught cold, leaving spaces between centre-backs and central midfield, which Naismith, Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas have exploited in turn.
The Toffees are working harder off the ball, closing down quickly inside their own half and breaking with speed and in numbers. Arsenal once again having no runners beyond striker Olivier Giroud is a constant and obvious problem which still sees no remedy being sought from the bench.
Those two issues in particular are being consistently taken advantage of by the home side, and Arsenal's improved five-minute spell at the end of the half needs a lot more adding to it if they are not to make it one win in six league games.
Quick second-half analysis
Arsenal started brightly, but Everton were able to sit back and pick the Gunners off on the counter initially, before dominating long spells of possession soon after. Comfortable with their 2-0 lead at the break, it was a case of keep-ball at the back to entice Arsenal out of shape—and the away team obliged all too willingly.
Yet again Wenger's men were undone by poor defending against fast transitions, with Arteta's own goal the culmination of such an event.
Only Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain's interventions changed the attacking impetus for the away side, but it was far too late and in truth even Ramsey's marauding runs forward didn't help as they left Arteta far too exposed centrally.
On this evidence, Arsenal are going to struggle to finish above Everton, even with the easier run-in.
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