Arsenal’s top-four hopes suffered a blow with a 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. A goal from Phil Jagielka — who only came into the starting XI because of an injury sustained by Michael Keane during the warm-up — consigned the Gunners to a damaging defeat.
There wasn’t much to enjoy in this Arsenal performance. Arguably the best outfield contributions came from substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi. Perhaps some solace can be derived from another good performance from Bernd Leno, who kept Everton’s advantage to just a single goal.
Most obviously, this hurts Arsenal’s chances of making the top four. With some of their immediate competitors not in action this weekend, it was an opportunity to lay down a marker. Instead, they suffered a dispiriting defeat.
It’s also a real blow to Arsenal that they will now have to do without Sokratis Papastathopoulos for their next two league games. The yellow card he picked up in the first half means he will miss matches against Watford and Crystal Palace.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Unai Emery was without some key players on Sunday — Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny were out injured, and Ramsey was only deemed fit enough for the bench. It cost him dear, and two half-time changes were not enough to turn the game in their favour. Arsenal were poor, but it’s unclear what exactly the manager should have done differently.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 7 — It was a sure sign of Arsenal’s nervy start that even Leno’s usually impeccable footwork was off. He recovered his composure to make a hugely important second-half save to deny Bernard and keep Arsenal in the game. It wasn’t his last save either; Leno is what prevented this from becoming a rout.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 6 — The German has developed a tendency of looking to play longer passes, and one almost came off when it found Alexandre Lacazette‘s head in the box. Like Sokratis, Mustafi struggled to contain the ebullient Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 5 — Perhaps inevitably, Sokratis picked up the booking that means he will now miss Arsenal’s next two Premier League games. It was for a typically cynical foul on the halfway line. It may have seemed like a smart move at the time, but it could cost Arsenal heavily in the coming weeks.
MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 5 — The wing-back produced one of the few positive moments in Arsenal’s first half, whipping in a cross that Jordan Pickford was able to claim. However, he was lucky when his mis-control granted Bernard a great opportunity to score and Leno bailed him out. Too often his touch was off.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 4 — This was the burly Bosnian’s worst performance in some time. Richarlison had then better of him throughout, and it was no great surprise when he was withdrawn at half-time.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 — With Ramsey starting on the bench after an injury scare, Elneny was charged with replacing him as Arsenal’s midfield connector. He’s a solid player, but not up to the standards of the Welshman.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 5 — A cynical and needless booking in the first five minutes seemed to inhibit Guendouzi, and it was arguably somewhat surprising when he survived the half-time double substitution.
MF Mesut Ozil, 5 — He was named captain on the day, but did not produce a performance worthy of the armband. At least the fact that Emery selected him away from home suggests the rift between the Arsenal coach and his highest-paid player has been healed.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 5 — Restored to the starting lineup for the away trip, Mkhitaryan showed a few good touches but could not find any end product.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 5 — The Frenchman felt (seemingly correctly) that he should have had a penalty inside the first few minutes, but the referee waved play on. He took a buffeting off the Everton centre-halves throughout the game, and seemed to struggle to impose himself.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 7 — Introduced for Elneny, he perhaps should have equalised within two minutes, instead volleying over the bar. He immediately improved Arsenal’s midfield play and was arguably their best performer on the day.
MF Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 — Came on for Kolasinac and alternated between right and left wing.
MF Alex Iwobi, N/R — Introduced for Ozil and looked busy and bright. Sadly, he was one of the few.