We return to Premier League action against Everton on Tuesday, and ahead of the game tactical expert Michael Cox analyses our opponents.
Ronald Koeman joined in the summer and got off to a fantastic start, winning 13 points from his first five matches, with Everton in second place. Since then, there’s been just one victory in 10 matches. A 5-0 defeat at Chelsea, when Koeman switched to a three-man defence with disastrous consequences, was particularly damaging. After a poor performance in the 3-2 weekend loss to Watford, Koeman criticised his players for being ‘too passive’, and perhaps a response should be expected.
Koeman used a three-man defence at the start of the season and for that trip to Stamford Bridge, but has otherwise generally stuck to a 4-2-3-1 system. There’s been a worrying lack of cohesion in the final third, however.
Ross Barkley has been dropped for the last two matches, Yannick Bolasie sustained an injury against Manchester United which keeps him out for the season, while Gerard Deolofeu and Kevin Mirallas have been inconsistent and the use of James McCarthy in a No 10 position against Watford seemed somewhat cautious.
AREAS OF STRENGTH
Everton still have among the best full-back pairings in the Premier League. Leighton Baines is back at left-back after Bryan Oviedo’s run of games earlier in the season, and still boasts a fine delivery even if he probably lacks the dynamism of a couple of years ago. Seamus Coleman is as energetic as ever on the opposite flank, however, and Arsenal’s left winger must watch his powerful runs.
Romelu Lukaku endured a quiet run of games recently, but scored twice against Watford from two very different passes: converting a through-ball from Gareth Barry and later heading in a cross from Aaron Lennon. Lukaku is sometimes criticised for his movement and hold-up play, but 70 goals in 142 Everton games is an outstanding record for a 23-year-old.
AREAS TO TARGET
Watford scored two headed set-piece goals in the weekend victory over Everton, and Troy Deeney later admitted they’d been working hard on set-pieces during training. Judging by Everton’s marking, Arsenal should be doing the same.
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