Everton and Arsenal played out a dour 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday, as both teams had their new managers watching on from the stands.
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Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta are now in charge of Everton and Arsenal respectively and will have been far from impressed with what they saw as interim managers Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg tried their best, but both teams failed to create clear cut chances.
With the point Everton now have 19 for the season but remain just above the relegation zone, while Arsenal move on to 23 points.
3 things we learned
1. Players distracted as new managers watch on: With Arteta and Ancelotti in the stands, both sets of players looked nervous. It was as though they were involved in a very, very public job interview and a lot of the players were trying to do things they weren’t comfortable with. That resulted in a very poor game, lacking in quality and specializing in nerves. Both new managers will have plenty to mull over in the coming days as they aim to push their teams up the table.
2. Arsenal’s kids are okay: Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Joe Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli all started and all played their part in a gritty away display for the Gunners. The kids played well in the second half against Man City last week and perhaps new manager Arteta will be best served to give them an extended run in the team in the coming weeks and months. Aubameyang was taken off in the second half and the likes of Lacazette, Ozil and Pepe have failed to get going in recent months, so it may be down to the kids to drag Arsenal out of this situation.
3. Big Dunc signs off unbeaten: Interim boss Duncan Ferguson can hold his head high as he prepares for a position on Ancelotti’s staff. The Everton legend beat Chelsea and drew against Man United and Arsenal in his three PL games in charge, plus the Toffees draw 2-2 against Leicester in the League Cup quarterfinals, only to lose on penalty kicks. Ferguson will be back and he is a man of the people and gave his sweatband, tie and everything else away as he walked off the pitch at the end of the game. After Ancelotti, he has shown he can be the next man up for the Toffees as he galvanized a struggling squad of players to dig deep and restore some pride. The way he subbed off the sub Cenk Tosun will rub many the wrong way, and he did it with Moise Kean last week too, but Ferguson isn’t messing around and he has high standards which the Toffees lived up to.
Both teams were tentative on the ball early with their new managers watching on, and the first big moment was Alex Iwobi coming off injured with what looked like a slight hamstring pull. His replacement, Cenk Tosun, flashed an effort over the bar with his first touch of the game as Everton started to build a head of steam.
Richarlison had a shot blocked and Gylfi Sigurdsson curled a free kick just wide as Arsenal struggled to get out of their own half. Tom Davies crossed for Tosun but it was too powerful for the Turkish striker to get a decent effort on target, then Gabriel Martinelli raced clear at the other end but smashed wide as Arsenal had their first chance of the game right on half time.
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At the start of the second half Richarlison flashed an effort just wide of the far post as Everton continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock.
Jordan Pickford then made a really good save as Calum Chamber’s flick on found Aubameyang at the back post but Everton’s goalkeeper clawed the ball out. Emile Smith Rowe then should have got a shot away but Aubameyang slipped as he tried to finish as the Gunners finally got going.
Cenk Tosun was subbed off late on after coming on as a sub, as Moise Kean came on and Tosun was far from happy with the decision from Ferguson.
The final minutes were scrappy and summed up the full 90 as both teams huffed and puffed without really throwing caution to the wind.