Arsenal manager Unai emery is remaining positive about their top-four hopes after insisting their destiny remains in their own hands despite a 1-0 defeat at Everton.
A 10th-minute goal from Phil Jagielka, who was not in the team 30 minutes before kick-off but received a late call-up after illness ruled out Michael Keane, was enough to inflict a sixth away defeat of the season on the Gunners.
Arsenal have conceded in 15 consecutive top-flight away matches for the first time since February 1985 and, with four of their remaining six Premier League matches on the road, they face a tough task.
They could be knocked out of the top four by Chelsea on Monday night, although they will have a match in hand and that is what is foremost in emery’s thoughts.
“I am in my mind in the same as before the match,” he said. “We know it is going to be difficult and today was a very good opportunity to take the three points and go third, but after the result we are fourth and we need to be consistent.
“We are going to have chances also in the next matches and it depends on us and on other teams.
“After the result we can be negative because (we have) three points less (than we could have had), but it is in our hands to continue taking chances to be in the top four.
“It is a bad result, not a good performance, but we are fourth.”
After waiting more than two years for a win over one of the Premier League’s big six, Everton now have two in successive home matches.
“Delighted. Everything that we did since the first minute, the desire, the fantastic spirit and we deserved the three points,” said manager Marco Silva, whose side moved within a point of seventh-placed Leicester.
“We were the best team on the pitch. With more goals, it would be more fair. The chances we have created, we should score more goals.”
After a dreadful run of three league victories in 14 between December and February, the Toffees have now won three games in a row.
They restricted Arsenal to just two shots on target and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, disciplined in the week after being involved in a fracas at a pub in the early hours of Monday, had the quietest of afternoons.
“We are in a fantastic run apart from the last 30 minutes against Newcastle and we lost that because of an offside goal,” added Silva.
“The first three months of the season, we had a fantastic run. We had that period in December and January which were not good months for us at all and we lost some confidence.
“In that two months, the details were making the difference against us and we worked on that.
“The performance is helping us also. I can see our goalkeeper had a calm afternoon, a very good sign for us.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Arsenal’s poor away form continued after they returned empty handed from Goodison Park, with the score-line reading 1-0 in Everton’s favour.
A goal from Phil Jagielka in the early stages of the game meant that the hosts were saved from ruing all the easy chances that they missed in the second half.
Although Arsenal won’t have to face a top-six side for the remainder of the campaign, performances like these won’t do much good to their chances of finishing in the Champions League places.
We take a look at how the players fared in their defeat.
Bernd Leno 5: Could have done better with the goal he conceded. Denied Bernard in a one-on-one, but it was the winger who was at fault for not doing better with his finish.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 4: Set Bernard through on goal with a mistake and could easily have been the culprit had Arsenal conceded the second.
Shkodran Mustafi 6: Best player in Arsenal’s back-line, kept a check on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and limited damage.
Sokratis 6: Had a tough time keeping up with Richarlison, but he put on a decent shift.
Nacho Monreal 6: Was tasked to provide aid to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and keep a check on Seamus Coleman. Did well to keep the opposition right-back from creating much of a threat.
Matteo Guendouzi 4: Arsenal’s worst player on the pitch, was properly dominated in the midfield.
Mohamed Elneny 5: The experiment of fielding Elneny and Guendouzi together clearly did not work out and the Egyptian was ejected at half-time.
Sead Kolasinac 5: Another player removed at half-time after a dismal first-half.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 7: Probably the best player in Arsenal’s front-line, created a couple of chances and completed three dribbles.
Mesut Ozil 4: First start in an away game after more than three months and the German showed exactly why he was not preferred. Laid back performance, not many positives to talk about.
Alexandre Lacazette 6: Did well to play on Phil Jagielka’s shoulder and press the Everton back-line. A good run of form hit a roadblock, but it was not like the Frenchman was at the end of good service.
Aaron Ramsey 7: Came on at half-time and showed Arsenal what they missed. Drove the midfield well, but was terrible with his shots.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 5: Came on at half-time, but provided nothing significant whatsoever.
Alex Iwobi 5: Stepped in for Ozil, but failed to provide anything the German didn’t and that’s saying something.
Emery built and nurtured his reputation at Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, where David Villa, Fernando Morientes, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar were established among Europe’s leading forwards.
Although inheriting an uncertain defence at Arsenal, in Lacazette and Aubameyang he has been working with two prolific goalscorers whose understanding is improving by the week.
Their combined 37 goals have the Gunners on course for a return to the Champions League, with victory at Everton on Sunday moving the club a step closer to an ambition that at the season’s start perhaps looked beyond them.
Discussing the talented strikers he has worked with – although neglecting to mention Neymar with whom he had a strained relationship at PSG – Emery said: “I had at Valencia, Villa and Morientes; (Roberto) Soldado and (Aritz) Aduriz.
“I had at Sevilla (Kevin) Gameiro and (Carlos) Bacca. I had at Paris Saint-Germain, Cavani and Mbappe. Here I have Aubameyang and ‘Laca’. It’s perfect.
“Each striker has his qualities and characteristics but one is similar. They are strikers and score a lot of goals. All of them.
“That’s Villa, (Alvaro) Negredo, Carlos Bacca, Gameiro, Cavani, Morientes, and Soldado, and now here, Lacazette and Aubameyang. It’s the same.
“We need a lot of good passes, good crosses, to give them the best option to score in the box. We can be proud that both are with us.”
Explaining the choices open to him, he added; “Sometimes you need to play both, with two strikers, and sometimes you can play with one player wide, and sometimes you can play with another on the bench.
“Aubameyang and Lacazette, I am very happy with them. They are scoring, they are playing both (roles).
“In training, I said to them, ‘When I have one ball, I imagine you’ll score one goal, every time. Score, score, score’. That’s my mentality. I push them with this. That’s the best development for them and for the team.”
Aaron Ramsey is expected to start at Goodison Park following his return to training after a groin injury, strengthening Emery’s options as Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka are facing late fitness tests.
Asked about Ramsey’s summer transfer to Juventus, after their forward Moise Kean was racially abused by Cagliari supporters and initially not supported by team-mate Leonardo Bonucci, the 47-year-old replied: “I’m against racism.
“Aaron Ramsey is a professional, he’s also against racism. He can play here, he can play in Italy, he can play for Juventus.”
Provided by Press Association Sports