Abject Everton remain leagues behind Arsenal

Everton hit a new low in a season littered with painful home defeats with a comprehensive 2-0 reverse at the hands of Arsenal.

Lyndon Lloyd 19/02/2016 36comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 2 Arsenal

For much of the Premier League era Evertonians have usually been able to count on Arsenal to underscore just how far apart these two one-time peers in Englands top flight have become. It looked, briefly, as though under Roberto Martinez the days of routine humblings by Arsene Wengers enterprising outfit were gone but todays 2-0 defeat at the Londoners hands came as another bitter reminder of Evertons inferiority.

In the aftermath of his sides eighth home defeat this season Martinez described this game as a one-off. In terms of an inexplicably abject Everton display he might be right, but there was nothing unique about the result that the Goodison faithful" a label getting more and more stretched the longer this forgettable waste of league campaign wears on had to swallow as they filed out of the Grand Old Lady at the end.

Memories of the cruel 3-2 defeat to West Ham in the last league game at Goodison and the loss to West Brom before that, results also described as flukes by Martinez, were still raw for fans before kick-off who have had their support rewarded" with a number of painful reverses in recent weeks.

The worsening statistics, trotted out on social media by frustrated supporters become more and more damning of the manager and his team with every game. Everton under Martinez have won just four home matches since beating Manchester United in their their final win at Goodison in 2014-15. Three of those have come against the teams currently occupying the relegation places; the fourth was a potentially catalyticwin over a Chelsea side that was in the middle of self destruction.

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Theyve lost eight at home Martinez's predecessor only oversaw that many Premier League losses in his last three years in charge combined. Just 16 points have been won from a total of 48 possible since they kicked off the campaign with an annoying 2-2 draw against Watford. Unless they win all three remaining home games, Everton under the Catalanwill set a club record, set in 1888/89 and equalled in 1957-58, for lowest points won on home turf in a season (when adjusted for three points a win).

With every setback in front of his teams own supporters, Martinez insists that his team is very close to being a winning team and yet today, despite the wind from a truly uplifting FA Cup Quarter Final win last weekend in their sails, they proved just how far off their stated goals they are under the current regime.

Arsenal came to Merseyside on the back of successive cup defeats that left them with just a faltering title chase to revive. Having had to travel back from Barcelona in midweek, they should have betrayed some fatigue or flatness in their performance following their travels but they played with a verve, quickness and vigour that Everton, with a weeks rest behind them, simply couldnt match.

The Blues came off the blocks with high-tempo intent from the first whistle and Seamus Coleman hit the outside of the post from a corner inside the first 90 seconds but they fizzled out almost immediately, leaving the visitors to grasp the game by the scruff of the neck and effectively put it beyond their hosts by half time.

In terms of vision, guile and simple use of the ball, it was men-against-boys stuff for much of the first period and nothing illustrated the gulf in quality and attitude between the two teams more than the opening goal in the seventh minute. Drawing first Muhamed Besic and then Ramiro Funes Mori out of position, Alexis Sanchez played a one-two with Mezut Ozil to open up a yawning gap in front of the Blues defence before slipping in Danny Welbeck to round Joel Robles and slot home the opening goal.

It was a very Arsenal" goal that you had to admire for its brilliance in carving Evertons defence open so effectively; the kind of incisive football to which Martinez no doubt aspires but cant generate from his own players. Indeed, the contrast couldnt have been more stark on Evertons next attack when Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley tried to combine towards the edge of the opposition penalty area but the move broke down when the latters pass went straight to a gold jersey.

Martinezs men were clumsy, pedestrian and wasteful in possession and, as good as the Blues can be going forward when theyre on their game, they couldnt hope to emulate or contain Wengers side who were crisp, fast and effective. And they proved it again three minutes before half time when Sanchez nipped in ahead of the mystifyingly lethargic Besic to lay the ball off to Hector Bellerin in his own half and the Spaniard spotted the electric run of Alex Iwombi with a well-placed ball down the channel. Caught too far forward, Funes Mori was always chasing his shadow and the Argentine was still behind him when the 19-year-old debutant fired through Robless legs to make it 2-0.

Faced with a mountain to climb at the break, Martinez had to change something and his move was to bring on Stones for Besic in an effort to shore up the back line which was made vulnerable by the fact that Everton were being overrun in midfield. The Bosnian had had the Blues only shot on target in the first 45 minutes, an attempted curler from the edge of the box that David Ospina initially spilled but then gathered but he was otherwise utterly dreadful and could consider himself fortunate to have made it to half time.

With precious little output in forward areas where Lukaku was again frustratingly isolated and nothing much to lose given that they were heading for a season-ending defeat, Everton needed more than just that one change at the back. That Martinez waited almost half an hour before making his one attacking substitution, the withdrawal of Barkley for Gerard Deulofeu, beggared belief.

In between, the Blues were insipid going forward. The defensive midfield partnership of James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley was functional but redundant in light of the scoreline, the former barracked for continually going backwards with the ball rather than looking forwards; the latter industrious but not a patch on the invention and guile in Arsenals ranks.

No surprise, then, that Evertons best chance of the second half came from another corner which Jagielka put inches over the bar when he might have done better with a clear header at goal. Lukakus one and only effort would come a couple of minutes from the end of the regulation 90 but he couldnt get more power on Funes Moris cross to steer it away from the keeper.

At other end, where Arsenal hadnt really needed to get out of second gear in the second period, Olivier Girouds hunger to alleviate his personal goal drought saw him put the ball in the net, only to have it chalked off for a foul and then slice an injury-time shot into the side-netting.

Ordinarily, as comprehensive as it was, a home defeat to a team of Arsenals calibre would not be so depressing. What is worrying, however, is what the result and, more importantly, the underlying performance says about Everton under Roberto Martinez. This is supposed to be the time of the season where the team reaches peak effectiveness but they were glacial in thought and deed and they looked bereft of ideas and incredibly fitness. (While their opponents were still pressing the ball fiendishly with a couple of minutes to go, Everton, in contrast to last weekend in the cup, looked ponderous and unfit none more so than Besic for the entire 90 minutes.)

Most concerning was the simple lack of fight and heart displayed by a team that had it in abundance last weekend and it will raise inevitable questions over the unity in the camp under the manager. Martinez blamed it on fear but this season suggests the problems run much deeper.

That should be as alarming to the hierarchy as it is to a growing section of the fanbase who can see no way forward under the current setup. Unfortunately for Bill Kenwright, who enthusiastically lauded Martinez in front of the cameras after the win over Chelsea that took Everton to Wembley, his managers ever-expanding record of under-achievement is pushing the faith of Blues fans to breaking point and it should be nudging the Chairman or more likely his new majority shareholder towards making a painful but necessary decision regardless of what happens in the cup.

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Reader Comments (36)

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Nick Armitage
1 Posted 19/03/2016 at 19:44:15
I can’t even be arsed writing an article to outline reasons why Martinez is clueless. I’ve been saying it since the start of last season, anyone who has played football knows he’s woeful.

To Everton FC just strap a pair on and get rid of him now.

Jim Bailey
2 Posted 19/03/2016 at 19:49:34
Lyndon, it’s easy. He has to go. Those stats that you mentioned in your article are shameful. Can there really be an Evertonian out there anywhere who can stand up for Martinez?

The guy was found out last season and this season he has presided over the best squad in a generation and brought it to it’s knees.

Moshiri please, do the honourable thing... they shoot horses don’t they?

Andy Crooks
3 Posted 19/03/2016 at 19:55:27
Lyndon, it is time for you to write a balanced, thought out article reviewing the Martinez's reign. Then I hope you will conclude with a call for his dismissal.

I honestly think it is time for ToffeeWeb to campaign to get this man out of our club. He will relegate us. I urge you to act.

Ian McDowell
4 Posted 19/03/2016 at 20:02:27
At the start of the season a lot of supporters my self included wanted to give Roberto another season to see how we fared. If in August you said we’d be 12th in the league about to head into April I’m sure 90% of fans would have said that's not acceptable. In my opinion the lessons from last year haven’t been learned. He needs to go.
Bobby Thomas
5 Posted 19/03/2016 at 20:04:11
I’m absolutely sick of him so Christ knows how some senior players must feel.

They must know that Martinez's brand of football, his "philosophy", does not cut it in the Premier League. Long & short of it is he doesn’t win football matches. Perhaps the infuriating, but increasing, stream of players stating we should be doing better means that the squad's consensus is they just don’t rate him?

I've come to the conclusion that he’s not suited to being a Manager. He’s more a coach or Head of Academy or Youth Development type. He has to go in the summer. His career shows he cannot get results in this league & we are regressing badly. Going into next season would be a major and foolish risk, irrespective of any outcome in the FA Cup.

David Edwards
6 Posted 19/03/2016 at 21:18:49
If, by some amazing couple of flukes, we do manage to lift the FA Cup this season, and finally bring our club some silverware, I fear I will be physically sick if the cameras scan over to Roberto with that silly grin on his face. What he has done over the last 16 months in the league has been a disgrace.

I would love to see anyone else in charge of this team in the weeks to come, to stop that situation from occurring. Could Big Joe be wheeled out instead as a tribute to his ’Dogs of War’? – I quite like the idea of Barry as a player manager over the last few games of the season!

Jack Mason
7 Posted 19/03/2016 at 21:59:31
Andy @ 3, to be fair, mate, Lyndon does write balanced, well thought-out articles. Is it time for ToffeeWeb editorials? I think so yes. Myself and many other posters come here first for Everton news. And they both get my vote to start that. If there is a will for that, I don’t know. Who wants to become a target or even set yourself up as that?

I admire Lyndon and Michael’s writing and a lot of the other posters too, even though I don’t always agree. I think as supporters we have to start setting our own narrative. Maybe we have to do it ourselves through our own collective writing – and isn’t that the point of a forum after all?

Dennis Ng
8 Posted 19/03/2016 at 22:12:30
Sorry, folks, but this circus show is destined to run at least till the end of our FA Cup campaign. Protest as much as you want, and I want Martinez gone too, but if Moshiri is bewitched by Kenwright and Martinez, this mess will go on, even with Martinez gone.

Positives in me see Moshiri to act after the FA Cup, win or lose. Only problem will be our tolerance for this circus while it still runs.

Geoff Williams
9 Posted 19/03/2016 at 22:27:03
Very poor performance. No one played well. Funes Mori and Besic were particularly disappointing. I can’t believe what has happened to Stones as a player, he is so lacking in confidence.

We really missed Barry today, I don’t know how he will be replaced.

Paul Andrews
10 Posted 19/03/2016 at 22:52:51

Billionaires are not impressed by phonies.
He will deal with it his own way.

Jack Mason
11 Posted 19/03/2016 at 23:19:28
If we are relying on a 35-year-old Gareth Barry, Geoff, then we really are in trouble. As good as he’s been, there’s not too much left in him.
Bob Parrington
12 Posted 20/03/2016 at 00:18:02
I was at the game today, over from Australia. What a mess! No passion from the team and RM just stands there with his arms crossed. Bad body language that???

No idea of substitution times and player fits, has he?

In terms of performances I have watched live over the last 60 years or so, this must be the worst.

Phil Walling
13 Posted 19/03/2016 at 00:21:20
The shortcomings of this manager see him constantly taking ALL the blame when much more should fall at the feet of his players.

That they are a talented bunch was demonstrated last week but all too often they fail to string two decent performances together. It's as though we have TWO teams – one cares and one doesn't!

Only a psychologist, or perhaps a half-decent manager, can sort that one out.

Jack Mason
14 Posted 20/03/2016 at 00:36:52
Phil, maybe we need a parapsychologist or failing that a priest, The power of Christ compels you to care, to be the successor to the '80s. We can keep hoping for that or we can just say, ya know what, this isn’t even remotely good enough. Thanks for the "entertainment and "special moments" and, if the Lord compels it, an FA Cup win. Thanks mate, but we can do better.
Jim Bennings
15 Posted 20/03/2016 at 08:38:12
Arsenal are light years ahead of us.

If they are Barcelona-lite then we are certainly Arsenal-ultra lite.

The game is simple when you watch how they pass and move into space, always running off the ball and passing where it can actually hurt opponents. All our attacks mount up to are a load of shite crosses usually from the fullbacks Coleman and Baines.

I saw blue statues yesterday, I don’t think we used players, we used statues, no movement, no interest. The midfielders were as bad as I’ve ever seen.

Martinez and his coaching staff it has to be said, are frauds, nothing more than frauds. Maybe if he’d been sacked last season after various debacles then we might have moved on from this position now.

That was our TENTH home defeat since May last year... Don’t even get me started on the lack of wins..

Jason Tooley
16 Posted 20/03/2016 at 08:38:57
What an embarrassment!.

Today's game showed how inept Martinez is. With Barry out, he chose to try to keep the same formation and style of play despite not having the players to execute the plan.

Wenger's tactics were as expected, he pressed with three very high including no real right sided midfielder and Bellerin pushed into that space behind Sanchez. This put Everton in a situation where we had Baines with lots of space in the first half but without Barry to distribute and Cleverley tucked inside as usual, we couldn't take advantage going forward. When they had the ball, Cleverley was always too far inside, Besic was too indisciplined. It looked the same in the first half on our right as well with Seamus getting overrun by Welbeck. Barry, whether we like it or not, organises the shape in-game. Nobody did that today, certainly not the manager and his coaching staff.

The decision to switch to what looked like 3-5-1-1 is second half was a disaster. The back three looked like they hadn't practiced this and were clueless in terms of positioning, picking up players and it made our play even more disjointed.

By now Wenger's tactics had won the game and he could afford for his full backs to sit deeper and to ask his forwards to be closer to his central midfield compressing the space. Our manager responded by having a narrow midfield with Ross and Lennon close to McCarthy and Cleverley where our most creative player in Ross couldn't get on the ball. This clearly wasn't Plan B, that obviously doesn't exist and looked a panic move.

Our back three were totally uncomfortable on the ball, neither central midfield player either wanted the ball or had the ability to do anything with it and Coleman became our only attaching threat. Deulofeu's introduction was too late but was Martinez's only correct decision of the day.

In truth every player was very poor today but the plan and formation couldn't be executed without Barry and Wenger's tactics, knowing we were without Barry, were predictable.

What was Martinez thinking Arsenal would do? Has he spent all of this week basking in the success of last week where he couldn't make game management mistakes as his substitutions were forced on him.

It was obvious to see that we needed to impose our game by forcing their two centre backs to be stretched wider and their full backs to be pushed back. We needed an out ball forward quickly by having Deulofeu or even Niasse playing which would allow us to hit the ball forward and then support. This would release the pressure of their forward press. None of their forward three were ever going to track back in a big way.

Martinez and his coaching staff were completely out-coached today, his players were poor, nobody demonstrated any leadership but he also gave them no chance either.

I remembered today that under Moyes, we were really difficult to beat at home and his teams were able to impose themself through strength of character in the team, their work rate and his iron-willed discipline. All of this is gone and Martinez's teams lack any of these capabilities. We are weak mentally and are one dimensional. In-game management is non-existant.

It's not good enough for Everton to perform as we have this year, he's not the calibre of manager we need and a change is needed urgently.

Over to you Farhad!!

Bob Parrington
17 Posted 20/03/2016 at 08:53:56
Jim #15
"The game is simple when you watch how they pass and move into space, always running off the ball and passing where it can actually hurt opponents"

Completely agreed! So many times during this game there were no decent pass options. And, when the likes of Rom had made some space, the ball was not sent through and was 'tippy-tappy' passed around the back four.

Our transition from defence to attack seemed to be at snail pace.


Steve Guy
18 Posted 20/03/2016 at 09:02:52
Personally I would show this lot a looped video of pretty much any Everton match from 1985-86 or 1995 and just tell them that’s the benchmark and if they can’t hack that level of commitment and desire then do one.

I wouldn’t show it to Martinez: it would be like showing a man from the Stone Age an airplane and telling him to fly it.

Christopher Timmins
19 Posted 20/03/2016 at 10:12:04
The table does not lie after 29 games!
Nicholas Ryan
20 Posted 20/03/2016 at 10:51:42
An off-day is excusable; not having enough natural ability against superior opponents, is excusable. Lack of desire, is never, ever, excusable.

People say Leicester's rise is built on 2 players; it is, but those 2 players are not Mahrez and Vardy .... they are Robert Huth and Wes Morgan.

They don't have great natural ability; what they do have, is guts, desire, organisation and a bloody-minded refusal to be beaten.

They are not thinking about moves Barcelona or PSG ..... they're just 'getting it done' week in and week out.

I'll bet that Aguero and Sanchez look at the Leicester team-sheet and think 'Oh, Bloody Hell' .... then they look at ours, and think 'I'll have some of that'!

Jim Bennings
22 Posted 20/03/2016 at 14:42:48
Contrast Martinez and his mind numbing philosophy with Klopp, a man that’s constantly driving his troops forward with encouragement and has fit men running all game.

It’s amazing how people used the "we only played 3 days ago" moan as an excuse for failure.

I said last season not being in the Europa League wouldn’t make us better, it was nothing more than an excuse for poor management.

Ian Wells
23 Posted 20/03/2016 at 15:08:54
Everton once again very poor. Funes Mori is just not up to it. Okay in some laidback Paraguayan First Division...

And regarding the mid-field, it took me about 20 mins to realise Barkley was playing. And then there’e McCarthy, runs a lot, tackles a lot and then what, passes sideways or backwards. Same goes for Cleverly. Everton are full of Ray Wilkins type players. Everton just don’t have a midfielder who can make a defence splitting pass. They haven’t had for years. Barry sometimes but not often enough.

And why has Coleman become the default crosser of the ball. When Deulofeu came on Coleman still wouldn’t pass to him, dribbles himself usually down his chin and the puts in terrible crosses. Appalling stuff really is!!

Iain Johnston
24 Posted 20/03/2016 at 15:48:17
We stood still like subbuteo, they moved like Fifa 16...

A League One manager with League One backroom staff.

Not a touchline animation from any of them... No heart, no passion, no clue.

Just leave... go.

I don't feel let down by Kenwright & Martinez, it's worse, I feel betrayed...

Andrew Ellams
25 Posted 20/03/2016 at 15:49:53
Koeman or De Boer would be my top choices.
Dave Lynch
26 Posted 20/03/2016 at 16:02:04
Money talks.

Offer Simeone a good wedge and a big bonus for winning something and he'll crawl here, he'd soon have them fit and fighting for the ball.

They love a pound note those South Americans.

Andrew Ellams
27 Posted 20/03/2016 at 16:09:45
If Simeone was available, we wouldn’t be at the front of the queue to sign him.
Jim Bennings
28 Posted 20/03/2016 at 16:57:16
Southampton are a great example of continuing to get it right on and off the pitch and progressing year in year out despite losing so many key players over the last three summers.

Ronald Koeman would be a sensible choice of manager, his stock in the game is high and he’s a man with intelligence and a clear plan.

Don Alexander
29 Posted 20/03/2016 at 18:34:28
The home record this season is likely to be worst in the entire history of the club the way things are going.

So Martinez fans, and BK, make opt to defend him by way of our away record this season. If so, let’s look at that;

0-3 away at Southampton in the second game of the season. They were bedding in several new signings, again, and they’re way ahead of us now. This was also the first away match in 19 attempts where we succeeded in not conceding at least one goal. Incredible.

In the next two away we nilled Spurs and Swansea... for two whole points. Phenomenal.

We beat WBA next, having been two down. It has to be recognised though that before half an hour had gone two of their defenders had succumbed to injury.

Beaten at the Arse next, we then got a draw at the ’Ammers before THAT draw at Bournemouth. We prized a draw out of mighty Norwich next before a 90+ minute header got us a win at Newcastle. As an aside we nilled the Barcodes as we had Villa at home the match previously. As a further aside they were both then in the bottom three. Fantastic!

A creditable point at City (0-0) was followed by a discreditable one at Chelsea (3-3) and then our surprising 0-3 at Stoke. Our current manager (I tip my hat to Ken for that!) then said "We have to make sure we don’t drop our standards now", which meant we obviously lost our next match, at home to WBA.

Next on the road we did a famous double over Villa, cut adrift as they were from the rest of the PL. Yippee!!!!

Away games to come are United, Watford, our neighbours, Palace, Leicester and Sunderland. Right now, out of them, I’m only confident of finishing this shite season above Sunderland.............. hopefully.

Great away record? Hmmm.

David Collier
30 Posted 20/03/2016 at 22:20:09
In the dim and distant past, around the 12th century, the manager of the Goodison Park Chippy was found guilty of deceiving the local community every week with utter nonsense which led to a torrent of serious complaints from his faithful customers.

In order to do the honourable thing, he ended his career by falling on his own silverplated fish slice. This practice spread throughout the ancient world culminating in what we now know as hari-kiri.

I can dream, can't I?

Barry Jones
31 Posted 21/03/2016 at 01:36:16
Colin, Ronald Koeman is indeed "attractive" as you put it. But so is fellow Dutchman Phillip Cocu, now with PSV. He may be worth a shot........if indeed anyone has the guts to sack Robbie.
Dennis Ng
32 Posted 21/03/2016 at 02:35:52
I was looking up "Next Everton Manager Odds" and names like OFM, AVB, Koeman, Pellegrini, Ancelotti (don’t they read the news?), Hiidink and whoever has been through England and/or Everton as a manager or player before. No ambitious names like Emery, Simeone, Garcia.

I would be happy with Koeman based on his work at Southampton, but only a big name will satisfy everyone’s criteria and only the likes of Emery or Simeone will do. IF the wage difference in EPL and La Liga is as much as some people say, why not take a shot?

Sevilla don’t seem likely to win the La Liga (though 2-3 Europas kinda big deal also) and Atletico would be happy to win 1 title every 5-10 years. Tuchel’s also a up and coming name thrown around before, so definitely worth a shot.

Martin Mason
33 Posted 21/03/2016 at 09:15:15
Unfortunately the chances of Everton giving RM the boot that he deserves are very low. This is ridiculous in an era where all EPL clubs now have enough income to compete for the title as Leicester and Spurs have shown. The days of the top 4 have almost gone.

And guess what? In this era of opportunity for any club to do well we are in the bottom half and Saturday we were shown to be a league below Arsenal our former peers. It looks as though our Strongest squad in years is no such thing relative to other EPL teams. Our manager is a proven incompetent apart from making us a great attacking team away which alone is insufficient to make a successful team.

We have tried to make a go of it and without doubt increased quality by keeping Stones and paying top money for a striker. We have failed because our peers did it better than us.

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 21/03/2016 at 09:25:00
Martin. (38), why do you think the chances of Martinez getting sacked are very low?
Martin Mason
35 Posted 21/03/2016 at 11:28:28
Because of BK's words and body language. He’s an incredibly stubborn man who I think will support Martinez, just as he did Moyes, even at the height of the fan protest. He’ll do it to spite the fan protest. The manager is his man. It’s depressing.
Barry Jones
36 Posted 21/03/2016 at 16:47:34
Martin, you may well be depressingly right.
Dan Davies
37 Posted 21/03/2016 at 17:53:30
Phenomenal – "What a manager".

Pretentious – "What a joke" is more like it...

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