This weekend will be an interesting match-up of two clubs who are desperate to turn their fortunes around. Not only will a win provide three much-needed points, it will at the very least turn fans back on their side. Such is the fragility of both these managers’ careers that their popularity is hanging by a thread. It’s Everton v Arsenal.
Everton’s Run of Poor Form
Ronald Koeman has endured a very poor start to the season, especially coming back off a great summer transfer window. Everton appointed the Dutchman in the hopes that he would finally push them into England’s top four, a spot they’ve been vying for years, and one that they haven’t managed to achieve in a long time. The last time Everton played in the Champions League was back in 2005 and the highest they’ve finished since that good season is 5th.
Whilst they’ve also seen their fair share of success in the Europa League, the Merseyside club have still never come close to lifting the actual trophy, despite seeing then-rival club Fulham making it to the final. Many believed it was only a matter of time before they are able to build on their ability to finish in the top half of the table and finally play amongst the big boys. So in the summer of 2016, when Ronald Koeman was appointed manager, expectations were at an all-time high.
Even though they sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, Everton still endured a successful summer spending spree, bringing in big talents such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Michal Keane. With these players at their disposal, surely they would be fighting amongst the top four?
It couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Toffees have only two wins in eight games so far this season and in their last six games, have lost four of them. The problem here is Koeman is trying too hard to integrate his players and hasn’t found a system that is working for them. He’s already used six different formations in just eight Premier League games. With time running out on him, he could find himself without a job if he doesn’t pick things up soon.
The defence has been a major issue for Everton and this was evident in their last game against Brighton when several players looked off the pace when marking the opposition and gave the ball away numerous times in dangerous positions. Even with the likes of Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams, they just don’t have the ability to dominate the backline and do not cover Jordan Pickford enough.
The attack for Everton has been disappointing too with many players failing to gel as a team and because of the many switches from Koeman, they’re just not getting the games to do that. They have only scored five goals in eight games so far, with Wayne Rooney getting three and Oumar Niasse getting the other two.
Arsenal’s Derailing Season
The horizon has not been any better for Arsene Wenger as he once again struggles to compete with the big boys in the Premier League. It is yet another poor start to a season, meaning this may be the 14th season running that Arsenal have not won the league title. Having won 3 trophies in those last fourteen seasons, is Wenger the right man for the job?
Many will already debate about that and have voiced their opinions, particularly more so during the last year or two and even though they splashed the cash in the summer with the signing of Alexandre Lacazette, they are yet to solve their defensive issues which has caused Arsenal fans so much anguish.
Against Watford, Arsenal may have been unlucky to lose but they didn’t make things easy for themselves as they barely created any clear-cut chances and when they did, the likes of Mesut Ozil failed to capitalise. However, against a club like The Hornets, surely three points was a must? This isn’t the first time the Gunners have stumbled across easier opposition, having already lost to Stoke away too.
Usually, every Arsenal side has a plethora of creative midfielders at their disposal who can pass a team off the park and dominate possession. Whilst Wenger’s current squad do have their world-class players, the midfield of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka looked very poor in comparison. It’s been a struggle for both men to showcase their talent and after only glimpses of greatness, they look pretty poor when considering the players they have replaced.
Arsenal’s defence is a whole different problem as yet again, they are lacking that department. With their style of play mainly focused on playing the ball through the middle and hitting wide when in the final third, the wing-backs, Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac are often left exposed. With this in mind, all the opposition have to do is get in behind them on the counter-attack.
Time and time again this has left the defence exposed and with the poor form of Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny hasn’t helped their cause. A lot of consideration is needed when looking at a solid defence and Arsenal are not looking good at the back.
What will happen on Sunday?
Now with both sides on poor runs, a lot will depend on the start of the game, mainly the first 20 minutes or so. Everton and Arsenal are very low on confidence so whoever gets the first goal will surely go on to win it. Both Koeman and Wenger are under intense pressure and will need their sides to play out of their skin to take three points.
Everton are looking very average home or away, whereas Arsenal when focused, can play well as we’ve seen at Stamford Bridge. But it does depend on which Arsenal side turn up. The one against Chelsea, or the one against Liverpool?
One thing’s for sure. This game will act as a major confidence boost to whoever takes the most risks and win the game. Question is – which club will take that risk?