Arsenal in free-fall, as Everton deliver latest Arteta hammer blow

Date published: Saturday 19th December 2020 7:24 - Steve Pearson

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Arsenal made it seven league games in a row without a win after slipping to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Everton.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing through a calf injury, Eddie Nketiah was drafted in to spearhead the Gunners’ frontline.

Chances in the early going were difficult to come by, however, as Everton took an early stranglehold on possession.

Everton were producing little in the way of tangible threats with their possession, until Michael Keane took matters into his own hands.

The centre-half ambled untracked deep into the Arsenal half before unleashing a rasping 30-yard drive that flew narrowly past the post.

That warning shot did little to wake Arsenal up, and moments later they fell behind.

Alex Iwobi whipped a cross towards Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose headed effort appeared destined to fall aimlessly wide until a fortuitous deflection off Rob Holding deflected the effort goalbound.

Bernd Leno was left stranded as the in-form frontman wheeled away in celebration of the own goal.

Arsenal’s heads did not dip despite falling behind once again, and the visitors soon won a penalty after sharp work from Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The versatile wide man nipped in ahead of To Davies before being kicked as the Everton man attempted to clear his lines.

With Aubameyang absent, the duty fell to Nicolas Pepe who calmly dispatched the spot kick to make it 1-1.

As half-time approached, the vibrant Calvert-Lewin forced Leno into a super acrobatic save to prevent his weak-footed shot flying into the top corner.

A corner resulted and the bad news for Arsenal continued as Yerry Mina escaped Nicolas Pepe’s poor attempt at marking to nod home at the near post.

Arsenal emerged with renewed vigour to begin the second-half. Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney began to combine well down the left, and it was from that flank that their first major chance came.

Jordan Pickford flapped at a cross with the ball falling to David Luiz who had ventured forward.

The Brazilian’s shot deflected off Abdoulaye Doucoure onto the crossbar, much to relief of the England stopper.

A relative stalemate then took hold of the match. Everton were content play with caution while Arsenal continued to lack a cutting edge in the final third.

Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette were introduced from the bench as Mikel Arteta desperately went in search of a spark, but it was the hosts that came close to notching the game’s next goal.

A teasing Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kicked was fractionally overhit as Keane came narrowly close to nodding home from close-range.

Alex Iwobi almost delivered a fatal blow to his former side, but his deflected effort following a corner whistled agonisingly wide.

Despite their perilous situation, Arteta’s side crafted very little until a desperate scramble in the final minute, eventually slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park as the pressure continues to grow on Mikel Arteta.

 

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