Arsenal 2-0 Everton: Petr Cech and Alexandre Lacazette mask frailties
Gunners goalkeeper keeps clean sheet in home win over Everton
Last Updated: 24/09/18 6:24am
Arsenal’s defensive frailties were there for all to see in the 2-0 win over Everton but Petr Cech and Alexandre Lacazette ensured victory at the Emirates Stadium nevertheless...
Lacazette holds the key
Alexandre Lacazette's extraordinary finish helped swing the game in Arsenal's favour and it really was some effort. The forward had sat slumped on the bench on Thursday evening as he watched his team-mates tuck into Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava but he made up for lost time here - curling the ball beautifully into the top corner early in the second half.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the lead three minutes later. The suspicion remains that both men would prefer to play through the middle but Aubameyang, in particular, is making it work. "He has not had his best performance but he has got himself on the scoresheet," former Arsenal striker Alan Smith told Sky Sports. "That is the kind of player he is."
Jamie Carragher's view: "It's something that's a problem for teams when they have two real top centre-forwards, how to get them in the team. I think the only answer is that one of them has to play wide or on the bench. Very rarely do you see a real 4-4-2 with the top sides but he has found a way to get them both in the team and they are both scoring goals."
Everton cursing their luck
Aubameyang's goal was actually offside - and pretty clearly so. It left Everton fans bemoaning their luck. They still have not won at Arsenal since 1996. But there were positives here after their disappointing display at home to West Ham last time out. Marco Silva's men not only had more shots on target but they played on the front foot.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had 30 touches of the ball in the first half alone and it was often in advanced areas because of Everton's willingness to press Arsenal. Theo Walcott recovered possession more times than any other player on the pitch in that first period and while the approach did not reap rewards it could have gone the other way on another day.
Jamie Carragher's view: "Everton's biggest problem, which is the most important thing in football, is in the two boxes. They are not good enough in either box. They haven't got a real, proper centre-forward to finish games off and defensively they are not good enough."
Cech offers timely reminder
It required Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to be at his vintage best to keep Everton out. There has been much focus on his struggles with the ball at his feet under Emery but the basics of goalkeeping have not changed - save shots and claim crosses. Cech did lots of that against Everton, denying them on four separate occasions in a frenzied first half.
An expertly-timed tackle on Dominic Calvert-Lewin prevented the visitors taking the lead in the second minute and he repeated something similar at the feet of Walcott soon after. There was nothing truly spectacular but after Bernd Leno conceded twice from three shots on target on debut on Thursday, this was a timely reminder of Cech's qualities.
Jamie Carragher's view: "Over the last 18 months I have been saying Arsenal needed a new goalkeeper so when they signed Leno I fully expected him to be first choice. But I actually think the Petr Cech I have seen in these first five or six games looks like the Petr Cech I remember at Chelsea in terms of the saves he is making and his starting positions."
Word of praise for Torreira
While it was a veteran who was the man of the match, Arsenal's big hope for the future lies with the young midfielder who finally made his full debut in the Premier League. Lucas Torreira has been eased into action and there were times in the first half when the scale of the task ahead of him was made clear - he picked up a booking but did not make a tackle.
Crucially, Torreira stuck to the task and brought a modicum of control in the second half, warming to his task as Granit Xhaka's minder. When the Switzerland international had his latest brain fade - putting Everton on the counter-attack by gifting them the ball from a free-kick - it was his midfield partner who swept up to salvage the situation. Arsenal need more of that.
Arsenal's defensive frailties
Unai Emery knows this remains a long-term project, of course. After Thursday, he spoke of the need to be more compact but there were more warning signs here. The Gunners have now conceded 35 shots on target in the Premier League this season - only Fulham, Burnley, West Ham and Cardiff have conceded so many. It was far from convincing.
"They are all over the place at the back, Arsenal," said Jamie Carragher in the Sky Sports studio at half-time. But thanks to Cech at one end and Lacazette at the other, it did not prevent them picking up the points. Four wins from six games is an encouraging start. If Arsenal can continue to win throughout this transition period, Emery will be delighted.