How many times have you seen him like this? Wincing and snarling; complaining and arguing, unable to understand why things aren’t going his way.
All had been well in Arsene Wenger’s world. Arsenal were nicely positioned in second, players in good form and offered a chance to make a mark as this title race starts to take shape. Beat out of form Everton and things would have ticked along smoothly.
By the time he left Goodison, Wenger was an open book once again. He bemoaned a referee’s decision but really he should be asking questions of his own team. This was careless, reckless almost. This defeat may prove so costly in the final reckoning. 

Arsenal crumbled in the heat of a Royal Blue furnace. They had not lost away from home in the Premier League since February 28 but that run came to a juddering halt as headers from Seamus Coleman and Ashley Williams gave Everton the right reward for 60 high-intensity minutes.
Yet it is the opening half-hour that will drive Wenger to distraction. Arsenal looked so dominant that it seemed likely they would inflict a defeat on Everton that was as heavy as the one they administered to West Ham on their last away day.
‘Maybe we were a bit too comfortable,’ Wenger mused.

By the end they had been taken totally out of their comfort zone by an aggressive Everton performance that made this atmospheric old stadium come alive. It was jumping at the final whistle on a significant night for Ronald Koeman.
An early-season burst, when Everton won four of their first five assignments, had long been forgotten following an autumn of toil and Koeman had become irritated by the fact that Everton have become ‘reactive’ and only begin to play after something has happened to them. 
They had conceded the first goal six times in their last nine matches and they needed to buck that trend. Imagine Koeman’s dismay, then, when six in nine became seven in 10. 

Everton had only themselves to blame. It was two minutes of mistakes, Williams clattering into his own man, Idrissa Gana Gueye, which led Phil Jagielka to chop down Francis Coquelin on the edge of the area to get the first of his two yellow cards. 
Sanchez took responsibility from Ozil for taking the free-kick and he compounded the errors, his shot deflecting in between Williams’s legs and squirming past Maarten Stekelenburg, who had been wrong-footed.
‘You don’t win any game starting that way,’ Koeman pointed out.
It was hard to foresee anything other than Arsenal moving serenely through the gears, but just past the half-hour the mood began to change. A successful tackle here, a good pass there and the noise began to crank up. This was more like it. This was Goodison. 

Soon enough, Arsenal were on the back foot, having to repel attacks. They were able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 38th minute when, after Nacho Monreal made a hash of clearing Coleman’s free-kick, Aaron Lennon stabbed an acceptable chance well wide.
No matter. Just before half-time, Everton got their reward. Leighton Baines raced forward to take possession of a sweeping pass, cut inside Walcott and, with his right foot, he whipped a perfect ball into the six-yard area where Coleman applied a smart headed finish.
How the dynamic changed. There was Koeman, punching the air in delight and there was Wenger in that familiar frustrated pose, arms folded and gaze fixed on his defenders, who had failed to react. Arsenal not winning when they should be coasting? It is a familiar story.
They needed to match Everton’s fight to reclaim the ascendancy and tempers certainly frayed at the interval when there was a pushing and shoving competition in the mouth of the tunnel. It was a sign of what was at stake. 

Arsenal emerged first for the restart and the tempo at which they set off was as brisk as it had been an hour earlier. As had been the case in the first 45 minutes, they should really have taken an early advantage. Ozil, however, an increasingly peripheral figure, blazed over from Sanchez’s cross.
He looked to the sky, his manager looked at the floor. His profligacy was almost compounded five minutes later when Ross Barkley cracked a 20-yard drive that skidded past Petr Cech’s left-hand post. Everton’s ambition had not been cowed.
That point was emphatically proved in the dying moments. Koeman was not afraid to introduce his young striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, his presence lit a fuse in the crowd and when Barkley hurled in one final ball, Williams connected emphatically with a downward header to spark pandemonium.
Everton had to withstand one final onslaught, Baines clearing off the line from Alex Iwobi following an almighty goalmouth scramble, which even included Cech, but they had done enough. Not even the loss of Jagielka for his second yellow could halt them. They had broken Arsenal’s spirit.
And Wenger’s misery, as Goodison erupted, was there for all to see.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here