Plenty of huff and puff, but pointless

Carlo Ancelloti was another manager tipped to come to Arsenal after Emery. He has  nine more points than Arteta after 34 games each, and now sits second in the table.

Again, the Arsenal performance was OK – but plenty of pretty and neat approach play ended ineffectively.

For an Arsenal supporter the style of play promises much. But it flatters to deceive. Despite winning the stats battle, including possession and touches in the opposition box, there were no attempts on target in the second half and only two the whole match. Everton, like Tottenham before were happy to sit back and hit on the counter.

Aubameyang was out with a tight calf, Luiz came in for Gabriel – on his 23rd birthday and Maitland Niles kept his place on the right with Bellerin fit. There were five at the back without the ball and four on the offensive.

Everton are a form team – winning the last two with none conceded. They lined up with four centre backs in a 3-4-3.

First Arsenal attack was on 12 with Nketiah running in from the left with his cross cleared.

Elneny was yellow carded for a challenge on Sigurdsson. Then Keane ran forward unchallenged and shot just wide.

Willian came in with some pathetic challenges. And showed nothing in attack.

On 22, Holgate found Iwobi who sent in a low cross deflected by Tierney to Calvert Lewin whose touch hit captain Holding who knocked it into his own net.

Saka set away Tierney who found Nketiah unmarked – but with plenty of time, he rushed his shot on the half-volley and it went wide.  Nketiah was sending some probing balls for Saka and Pepe. And in some ways the attack looked more coherent.

Maitland Niles sent a low cross in which rebounded and as he ran to meet the rebound, Davies kicked him and gave away the penalty. Pepe slotted in home – centrally.

Ceballos gave a little kick out at Mina, which was dangerous.

He then found Nketiah whose shot was blocked.

Calvert Lewin was causing problems, winning a free kick off Tierney and sending a rasping shot tipped over by Leno.

From the corner, Sigurdsson delivered one in the middle of the goal, Mina lost Pepe easily and rose above Saka to power it home right at the end of the first half. Worst time – and doubly so for Arsenal who had fought back. What is the set-piece specialist teaching?

From a Willian cross at the start of the second, Luiz hit the post after a Doucoure deflection.

But from Arsenal’s crosses, Pepe didn’t come into the middle, leaving Nketiah dealing with two or three giant centre backs on his own.

Everton were creating breakaways. Richarlison nearly found Iwobi in the middle of the Arsenal area, but it was cleared.

Willock came on for Elneny with half an hour left, and Martinelli came on for Pepe.

Willian had a shooting chance, but he has only one shot on target in eleven Premiership games and it went ridiculously wide.

Nketiah came off for Lacazette.

Arsenal’s best chance after the changes came when Saka crossed but Willock headed wide.

Arsenal pressed in injury time but efforts from Saka and Lacazette came to nothing.

Calvert Lewin said: “We dug in didn’t panic and waited for the chances. He said Everton had a look at Arsenal weaknesses on set pieces and worked on that.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said it was the same story as previous weeks, with the team trying, dominating the game, “but in the small moments we are losing the game. We lost, conceding an own goal and a set-piece.

“We had chances but the last shot, the last pass is not going our way. It’s not an excuse, we keep believing in what we are doing. We need to win matches and that’s not happening.”

Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Mina, Keane, Godfrey, Doucouré, Davies, Iwobi(Substituted for Coleman at 83), G Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.

Arsenal: Leno, Holding, David Luiz, Tierney (Booked at 40), Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Elneny (Booked at 15, Substituted for Willock at 64, Booked at 90), Saka, Pépé (Substituted for Martinelli at 71), Nketiah (Substituted for Lacazette at 76), Willian.