Alex Iwobi impressed on first Premier League start, Everton’s defensive woes continued and Danny Welbeck finding form are just some of the talking points from Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park.
Iwobi justified inclusion
Wenger made a bold decision in giving 19-year-old Alex Iwobi his first Premier League start in such a crucial fixture, and his decision paid dividends with Iwobi putting in a lethal performance. The talented youngster was given the nod ahead of both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, and more than justified his inclusion.
Iwobi ran the Everton defence ragged with his pace and power, and his 60-yard run for the second Arsenal goal finished off a quick counter-attack as he placed the ball through the legs of Toffees goalkeeper Joel Robles to put his side into a 2-0 lead.
Sanchez’s struggle for form
The form of Alexis Sanchez will come as a big worry to Arsene Wenger. Considering the Chilean forward scored 17 Premier League goals last season in his first year in English football, Sanchez has astonishingly only found the net once since October. Having suffered a hamstring injury against Norwich last December, Sanchez has struggled to find form and it could be argued that participating in the Copa America last summer has been a factor in his under-par season this time round.
Sanchez has certainly not performed to the level of last season, and although he showed promising signs he may be returning to top form against Everton, he again failed to get on the scoresheet.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) March 19, 2016
Everton defensive woes continue
The stats don’t lie when it comes to Everton’s defensive record. The Toffee’s have the worst defence in the Premier League, and have even shipped in more goals at home than bottom of the league Aston Villa. Arsenal sliced their back four open for the first goal with a fast-paced flowing move that was finished off by Danny Welbeck, and they were again caught on the counter attack when Iwobi sprinted through on goal with Leighton Baines in no mans land and Ramiro Funes Mori simply unable to catch the forward.
Roberto Martinez brought on John Stones at half-time and changed to 5-4-1 formation in order to tighten up at the back having been completely outplayed in the first half. The change in personnel saw Everton enjoy a greater spell of possession as they looked to find a way back into the game, but the damage was already done in the first half.
Romelu Lukaku’s future in doubt
With rumours circulating regarding the future of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, it is looking increasingly harder for the Toffee’s to keep hold of their top scorer this summer. Lukaku admitted the “next step” for him is Champions League football, something he won’t be achieving with Everton for at least another season.
Lukaku is no doubt one of Everton’s most important players, and the Belgian has scored 18 Premier League goals this season, and found the net in Everton’s last 4 games. Only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals than Lukaku in the Premier League since 2012/13, and with the likes of PSG reportedly interested in acquiring the 23-year-old, Roberto Martinez has a huge task on his hands to keep the hitman at Goodison Park.
Gunners late title push
The win against Everton leaves Arsenal eight points behind Premier League leaders Leicester with only eight games remaining. The Foxes are favourites for the title, but with 24 points still up for grabs, and after such a fine display, Arsenal fans will not be giving up hope of making a late push for the Premier League title.
The Gunners have tough games coming up including visits to West Ham and Manchester City, but if Wenger’s side could put together a winning run in the closing stages of the season they could make a late push for the title. The odds are obviously stacked against them and it would take a serious change in fortune to topple the dominant Leicester, but Arsenal fans wont be giving up hope just yet.
Elneny impressive once again
Since his £5million move from Basel in January, Mohamed Elneny is proving to be the midfield enforcer Arsenal have arguably been crying out for. Elneny ran 2km more than any other player on the pitch against Barcelona in midweek, and the midfield engine produced another fine display for the Gunners against Everton.
The defensive midfielder acted as solid protection to the Arsenal back four in an impressive performance, and the £5million paid for the 23-year-old Egyptian international could prove to be a bargain judging by his first few months in the Premier League.
What now for Walcott?
Having fallen behind in the Arsenal pecking order to Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott may be considering his Arsenal future this summer. At 27-years-old, Walcott is now in the prime of his career and having publicly said of his desire to play as a striker, the England international may have to leave the Gunners in order to fulfil his potential.
Walcott is in danger of failing to establish himself as a regular in the Arsenal first-team, and the forward will not want to spend his best years on the bench.
Wenger hits back at his critics
After a torrid week having been knocked out of both the Champions League and the FA Cup, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger got the perfect response from his players and hit back at his critics with an impressive performance at Goodison Park. The Gunners played some brilliant football in the first half, and the build-up to Welbeck’s opening goal is the type of football you would typically associate with Arsenal.
Wenger was ruthless with his team selection by leaving Giroud and Walcott on the bench, and his players put in the perfect performance to take a little pressure off the Frenchman. There is no doubt that Wenger’s position as manager is still under question, but the win against Everton was a big step in at least securing Champions League football next season.
Welbeck finding form at the right time
Welbeck’s return from injury has come at a good time for both Wenger and England manager Roy Hodgson. The Arsenal forward was sidelined for almost a year after having a knee operation, and since his return to first-team action he has produced some impressive displays. Welbeck came on as a substitute to score the winner against Leicester at the Emirates Stadium last month, and scored a stunning opening goal against Everton by finishing off a devastating Arsenal move.
Welbeck tormented the frail Everton defence in the first half, and his return to form is good news for England manager Hodgson, who included him in his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands. The forward will be looking to repay the faith shown by both Wenger and Hodgson by continuing his good run of form through out the closing stages of the season ahead of the European Championships in France this summer.
Arsenal need to build on fine display
Arsenal fans may feel a sense of frustration that their team produced such a dominating display against Everton after disappointing in previous outings. At times this season there has been no clue which Arsenal was going to turn up, but Gunners fans would have liked the looks of this one, and now it is time for them to build on such a clinical performance and repeat the dominating display in big games against Watford and West Ham coming up.