It beggars belief, really, when you think of the vast sums Everton spent on new players over the summer and the optimism that was coursing through Evertonian veins just three months ago but the club is once again embroiled in crisis, with the man in the hotseat very much living on borrowed time.
In the relegation zone for the first time in 12 years and with a poorer goal difference than eventually-doomed Sunderland had at this stage of last season underscores the trouble that the Ronald Koeman regime is in.
Last term, this fixture marked a turning point, at least in Everton’s home form, the debacle in the FA Cup Third Round against Leicester aside. It paved the way for the 4-0 demolition of Manchester City, as a cock-sure Blues side romped through Pep Guardiola’s team with abandon, and six more wins at Goodison Park after that before Champions-elect Chelsea broke the sequence.
The only turning point this season’s visit of Arsenal to L4 might spark, however, is an abrupt one in Koeman’s employment status… although there’s no guarantee that the Everton Board will be so decisive. Farhad Moshiri was seen to mouth “oh, no” as the fifth goal went in while Bill Kenwright visibly shared the pain of every Evertonian watching — many of them sick and tired of conceding hatfuls of goals to Wenger teams — but whether they are moved to actually do anything about the managerial situation remains to be seen. It’s hard to see a way back for Koeman — he looks bereft of answers.
Koeman could yet get a pass at Stamford Bridge, one of those games, no doubt, that Moshiri wouldn’t be surprised to lose, but the trip to Leicester next weekend has an ominous look to it where the Dutchman is concerned.
This was a game that exposed Everton’s technical limitations, its defensive frailties and toothlessness while underscoring that energy and tenacity alone is not enough against sides like Arsenal when they can slice through disorganised defences like a whipsaw. The Gunners weren’t at their best but when they reached their potential, the porous Toffees couldn’t live with them.
In some respects, there’s a measure of sympathy to be had for Koeman here, albeit it not enough to mask the mess over which he currently presides. He asked for “aggression” from his players and mostly got it in the opening half hour as the forward line harried the Arsenal defence and the likes of Idrissa Gueye were making full-blooded challenges like the one that set Wayne Rooney up for the opening goal.
Getting a boot to the ball before Hector Bellerin, the Senegalese midfielder prodded it towards Rooney and drawing on the self-belief and execution with which he announced himself to the world as a raw teenager 15 years ago almost to the day, he swept it past Petr Cech from 20 yards.
But it was over-exuberance from Gueye — in the absence of Morgan Schneiderlin, he was charged with protecting the back four — that got him into hot water with referee Craig Pawson 11 minutes before half time and which ultimately cost him his place on the pitch half an hour later when he picked up a second yellow card for one late sliding tackle too many.
Despite grabbing the relatively early goal that might have provided the foundation from which they could prey on the low morale of an Arsenal side that came into the game without an away win all season, there wasn’t much more in terms of offensive production from Everton.
Jordan Pickford had made himself the leading candidate for the Blues’ man of the match before 10 minutes had elapsed by tipping a second-minute shot from Alexis Sanchez wide, diverting Alexandre Lacazette’s shot behind to safety and making an excellent close-range save to deny the French striker after Aaron Ramsey had picked him out with an accurate centre from the Gunners’ right flank.
And with Everton seemingly abandoning the high press and dropping off Arsenal as they advanced out of their own half, Pickford had to push away Sanchez’s free kick and then deny Ramsey from the rebound.
Arsenal’s increasing pressure told five minutes before the break. A slight deflection off Gylfi Sigurdsson from Granit Xhaka’s goal-ward drive wrong-footed Pickford who could only parry the ball into the path of Nacho Monreal and he smashed the rebound home. Deflation inside Goodison and plenty wondering if the Blues had it in them to re-establish a lead against a Gunners team that looked very much up for it and was slicing through them at will at times.
Pickford was on hand again to come quickly off his line to block from Sanchez as things threatened to get worse for Everton but Koeman made it into half time with the scores level.
Having started the game with a three-man central defence, Koeman elected to change things up by withdrawing Ashley Williams — the Welsh skipper’s yellow card after a quarter of an hour was perhaps a consideration — and introducing Tom Davies.
The switch had the effect of increasing the load on Gueye in defensive midfield, although it’s one he probably would have made with just eight minutes gone in the second half when Arsenal took the lead… assuming of course the lack of that third centre half wasn’t in itself attributable to the Gunners’ second.
Nikola Vlasic, who had shown some wonderful moments of individual skill at times, ended up running down a blind alley in front of the visitors’ back four and Arsenal broke quickly. The ball was worked to Sanchez who delayed until he spotted Mezut Ozil’s unchecked run and one chipped cross later, the German had guided a header past Pickford to make it 2-1.
Two minutes later, Laurent Koscielny was allowed to saunter down the right flank past Sigurdsson and cross for Ramsey but the Welsh international made a mess of his shot when he could have finished Everton off there and then.
As it was, it was only a matter of time. Koeman would lament after the match that Gueye’s dismissal had made an already difficult task for his team impossible but much of the fight had already gone out of them by that point.
Furthermore, Arsenal with their tails up were just too good. While the massed Evertonians were forced to see angled ball after angled ball float out of play on the right touchline, the result of the manager’s directive to go more direct, Wenger’s men passed with speed and precision, moving through the gears with an efficiency that Blues fans can only dream of.
With 16 minutes left, Arsenal extended their lead when they carved their hosts open once more after Vlasic had uncharacteristically given it away in their half. Only the hapless Michael Keane was in the middle of defence as Ozil surged down the right flank and crossed to Lacazette who couldn’t miss from the centre of the goal.
After Rooney and Calvert-Lewin had been withdrawn in favour of Ademola Lookman and Oumar Niasse, Davies bounced a long-range effort at Cech that represented Everton’s first shot on target since their goal in the 12th minute.
But a wide-open Sanchez missed a great chance to make it 4-1 with a diving header and Xhaka smacked a shot off the crossbar before substitute Jack Wilshere split the defence to pick out Ramsey and this time he didn’t miss.
There was farce still to come as Cech was caught trying to dribble away from Niasse and the striker robbed him to knock the ball into the empty net but Sanchez was still able to exert his will on the game with a final act in the final minute of stoppage time.
Driving his way past a rank of Blue shirts, he eventually engineered space for a shot that he whipped across Pickford and into the far corner to complete the misery among those Evertonians who had remained behind to the bitter end.
But for Pickford, the one new recruit who could be declared even at this early stage a success, this could have been much, much worse. And, even accounting for the final quarter of the contest played with 10 men, it was bad enough.
The flawed transfer strategy that saw Everton exit the transfer window with an unbalanced squad, woefully deficient in some areas and over-weight in others, is clearly a significant factor behind the current slump but the lack of consistency and clarity in Koeman’s methods, team selections and tactics – and the resultant collapse in confidence among the players – are compounding the problem to a degree that is unsustainable.
There is a shortage of imagination and what comes across as a lack of passion and desire from the manager and when the buck ultimately stops at that one role, there is usually only one course of action to take. Preferably before it’s far too late...
Reader Comments (58)
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1 Posted 23/10/2017 at 06:50:19
2 Posted 23/10/2017 at 07:27:18
The team performed as I expected, not as I hoped, and I cannot see how it can be turned around as we are the worst team in the league with no sign of improvement.
Koeman says Everton are not in the position in the league they should be, he is wrong we are in the exact position we deserve to be in.
3 Posted 23/10/2017 at 07:35:01
We appear to be just assuming that it will all be ok.
4 Posted 23/10/2017 at 07:41:39
Don't worry, the ship will be turned around in the coming months but not by the current manager at this stage.
7 Posted 23/10/2017 at 08:33:42
Well after watching the shots of the Directors Box yesterday isn't it about time Luvvie Bill put his soaking wet hankie back in his pocket and actually explained to our Saviour WE ARE THE ONES IN BLUE as his applause was as warranted and as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool.
9 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:07:08
10 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:21:28
More worrying is, having had the wisdom of Troy-get in their faces and kick some one early-Deeney. Those well known - 'if we go north of Watford and it's a bit cold we don't like it up us Arsenal' came and matched what passed for our Troy Deeny-esque efforts with seeming ease...a team of L4's Under 8's armed with balloons on sticks should see Arsenal off.
11 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:25:44
No more mercenaries like this at the club please
12 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:29:36
It goes much deeper than the manager and Walsh, you can juggle all the players names, ponder for hours on the best team until you finally realise a completely unbalancedteam has been assembled, at a great cost but will be hard to get a winning one out of the lot of them.
It is hard for me to imagine any manager getting us out of this mess, it really is that bad.
13 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:45:05
Kendall 2 & 3,
re-signing the serially injured Ferguson,
re-signing the crocked McFadden,
selling Rooney cheaply when he was a decent player,
letting Moyes mess the club around big-style in his last year with us,
desperately bringing back Rooney when he was washed up and not fit or good enough for a top 6 club in exchange for Rom at a knock-down price to the Mancs in early July before getting a decent striker in - and we didn't have to sell Rom - Coutinho, Sanchez, Van Dyke & Ozil all still at their clubs!
DO EVERTON A FAVOUR BILL & GO NOW!
The club needs to get tough to be successful in the modern world and never will be with him at the helm.
14 Posted 23/10/2017 at 09:47:59
15 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:03:22
When a problem looks too big to solve (how do you eat an elephant?) you have to break it down into manageable chunks.
First chunk - we know what that is.
Second chunk - do what we did when Martinez got the bullet - give the reigns to Unsworth with Royles help while we secure our next manager.
Third chunk - very unpalatable to many but appoint the one manager* who can get the best out of this squad and steer them to safety.
*Everyone knows who that is but many go quiet when his name is mentioned or say NO NO NO.
Dave - we have to do it and you never know, he might just "get us" in the process.
Should be 10:00 am in Liverpool - hoping to hear chunk one has been bitten off shortly.
16 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:29:33
We need a manager with confidence in his own sound tactics, able to communicate them to his players.
A manager who lets his team play and get some consistency, rather than chopping and changing to mitigate the other team.
A manager with some conviction, who realistically talks about what we have rather than what we lack.
A manager with competence.
He doesn't have to be a 'Blue'. He doesn't have to 'get us'. Somebody competent who can get us silverware.
17 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:34:39
Martinez was ousted after a dismal effort at Leicester and another defeat for Koeman will surely mean that he too is relived of his duties.
I was in the minority and had hope that he could turn this around but I just can't see it anymore. If this is allowed to continue then a long hard season and relegation battle beckons.
There'll be no shiny new stadium in the Championship and it could well be the death knell for our club.
18 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:36:04
Do they not realise the situation we are in so relatively early in the season ? Not only our league position but also the apathy and acceptance that is running throughout the Club and support ?
Right now we are in a terrible situation, every game this guy presides over is another further loss in confidence another game we miss in putting things right. He should have gone at the beginning of the last international break.
Whoever comes in I have no doubt will preside over further defeats but hopefully whoever it is will start putting in place some sort of structure that will at least start the come back.
We really do not have time to mess about looking for a long term replacement in the short term. We need a "firefighter" someone who is used to this situation. I hate to say it but until the end of the season we need someone like Allardyce.
A top manager doesn't need or want this shit and the supporters choice, Unsworth, well why ruin his future putting him in a no win situation.
We need to act immediately. God help us !
20 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:50:56
21 Posted 23/10/2017 at 10:57:53
Teams can attack with gay abandon knowing we don't have the pace or the quality to hurt them. The can commit more men forward and if their incessant attacks break down we will never capitalise.
Koeman does looks bereft of ideas , and I reckon he is posturing now to say ''I wont walk away'' , pay me in full or I will keep saying '' I am confident I can turn it around''.
I don't think his heart and soul is in it at all. I think he wants his 9m and to walk away.
All ills stem from that.
22 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:01:38
Koeman has been inflexible and didnt not play with pace or width and with 3 number 10s but in recent weeks has played vlasic, dropped klaasen, put dcl up front and nothing has changed. Even tried jonjoe.
Selection has been poor but Im resigned to the fact we have a poor squad. Lookman is clearly out of favour and aside from Rooney we have nothing in the final 3rd.
My team would be Pickford, kenny, Keane, jags, baines, gana, Rooney , Davies, lookman, vlasic, miralas. But would still probably get thrashed. And that leaves £75m of new players out completely.
23 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:03:56
especially Sanchez and Ozil yesterday , made us look like a part time amateur team.
24 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:10:22
25 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:17:07
As Moshiri will expect us to roll over against the chavs I imagine well still have the clog head in charge against Leicester.
26 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:29:02
It sickens me to see nothing getting done, but as the duke says, its not our club, because if it was then we wouldnt still be talking about Koeman managing everton.
27 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:45:02
28 Posted 23/10/2017 at 11:49:07
Koeman will go once Moshiri convinces himself that his “investment” might be in danger. Until then, Ronald is safe, at least for a few more days.
29 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:06:46
30 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:06:50
More importantly though is does he really want to be here , does he really want the job?
I am siding now that he wants his money and to be gone, but he will stay if it is not forthcoming. It is a dangerous situation for the club.
If we keep him we could find ourselves in a bigger hole . The board have a big decision to make.
It looks to me like they will give him until the international break that follows the home match v Watford.
Lose that and hes gone .
31 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:15:56
32 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:17:57
33 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:40:16
34 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:42:24
Battle through the next 2 games and then a 2 week break to steady the ship and regroup.
35 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:52:53
Sure it will take time under a new man but the buck stops at the top and Koeman must be shown the door now.
36 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:56:55
I would also give Eddie Howe a try. Contrary to what a few have said on here about his team propping the Prem up, well he has virtually brought the same squad up the divisions and kept Bournemouth up with some very nice football.
No manager can garauntee success and especially with The shit that goes on upstairs at Everton so give a young determined man a go.
37 Posted 23/10/2017 at 12:59:12
Anyway John I will see you at the Atlanta game in November and hope somehow things have got better.
39 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:22:31
The games are not even entertaining. It's safety-first, pass it around in your own half then launch it football. Martinez is deemed a joke on this site but I'd settle for an entertaining 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge this week. The football was kamikaze at times but it was an awful lot better than this. At least I could see goals in the team and it was a question of us tightening up. We leak goals, we don't score goals and we don't create anything. We have too many players who offer nothing. Rooney is past it but is our best outfield player. Sigurdsson is an expensive Alexandersson. Keane is per Koldrup. Martina is Hottinger. Klaasen is Rehn. Koeman spent ages chasing Giroud and they didn't even need him yesterday. So much for a crisis at Arsenal. I'd settle for an FA Cup, a top 5 finish consistently, a world class stadium and watching players of the calibre of Sanchez.
40 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:30:11
Selling your best players (could be conceived as 'asset stripping'.
Amateurish transfers (Klaasen, Sigurdson, Keane..)
Incompetent back room staff: we need a complete clear out ,Ferguson etc. Look at their expressions on the bench -clueless.
Fitness: several players are clearly unfit. There is no excuse for this at this level.
Everton FC - have they not heard of the 'stakeholder' concept? i.e the fans who are treated with contempt, from incompetent ticketing, merchandising to making a scapegoat out of 1 fan and a child. Patronising Talksport communications by a Chairman who buys into the regular gutter press vitriol aimed at Liverpool people. The owner of Everton FC should never communicate with filth like this or the Sun.
Financial schemes by major shareholders. ie dodgy loans etc.
We all know the list. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and the fans, like Hamlet, are wondering around trying to make sense of absurdity.
41 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:34:10
42 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:34:17
43 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:38:33
44 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:40:08
45 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:42:47
They haven't said how much the payoff was, some observers have just seen Koeman and his brother dancing out of Finch Farm.
46 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:43:04
47 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:43:53
48 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:44:01
49 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:44:35
50 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:44:49
51 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:45:21
52 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:45:25
53 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:47:13
54 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:47:19
55 Posted 23/10/2017 at 13:52:33
56 Posted 23/10/2017 at 14:01:08
Peter 'Ave it!' Kay
57 Posted 23/10/2017 at 14:29:39
They just looked lost to me because constant change gave them nothing at all to build on, but maybe time will tell us how much the players were to blame for this very sorry state, in which we now find ourselves?
58 Posted 23/10/2017 at 15:12:51
59 Posted 23/10/2017 at 15:56:27
Whoever we get will be a gamble. I want a good communicator who sets the team up to win, rather than just second-guessing the opposition. When these players are in the right positions and know what they're meant to be doing, I suspect they'll look better.
60 Posted 23/10/2017 at 20:41:51
61 Posted 23/10/2017 at 21:46:19
62 Posted 24/10/2017 at 14:00:31
This manager really did have serious problems. Like me, I think that this defeat was the final insult for most of the crowd so I can't say I'm unhappy about his leaving.
Good luck to Rhino and co. I too think Joe Royle should be used if needed (something I advocated about 3 weeks ago).
I would keep Rhino until the end of the season but if we are going for a big personality especially someone who is available, the decision needs to made made quickly. As for Sean D, a good manager but the club is probably too big for him.
64 Posted 27/10/2017 at 02:50:46
As fans, we've been just as bad this last couple of seasons as the team. Goodison is a Library at the moment. Bournemouth fans were the best bit of the day singing Rooney was off the bar. We should be singing that!!
Either get more beers down ya lads or stop bringing ya birds to the match. I love singing even when we're playing crap. We can raise the team when we start rocking the songs.
Simple fact: they need us now... so stop your moanin' and start ya singing. It's doing my head right in all this quiet moaning and uneducated brainless shouting!
It's a Grand Old Team, It's our Grand old Team!
We are and should be the difference.
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