Everton ended a spell of four winless games as they came from behind to stop Arsenal and edge the game 2-1.
Arsenal raise doubts over challenging for the title
The Gunners have shown real potential to go all the way to claim the title this season. They had a chance to get to the top of the table on goal difference — albeit temporarily. The game against Everton, a side currently in very poor form, represented a great opportunity.
Arsenal started brightly and got a goal in the 20th minute itself after Nacho Monreal, who was offered far too much space on the left, found Mesut Özil. Mistake after mistake led to the free‑kick on the edge of the box, which Alexis Sánchez converted.
Considering Everton had only won once in 11 games, Arsenal should have capitalized on their opponent’s poor form and taken the game away from them when they had the chance. They failed to do so, and Everton found a way to come back in an almost-Roberto Martinez way.
Koeman asked his full-backs to push forward and pressurize Everton on the flanks. Eventually, the hosts got their reward and goals from defenders, Séamus Coleman and Ashley Williams, ensured they came out with three points.
This was a first away defeat in all competitions for Arsenal this season and a first in the Premier League since February, which shows they have indeed been in title-challenging form. The injury problems also seem far lesser. Regrettably for them, Chelsea seem relentless, and the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City are also in the mix.
While they have clearly improved, so have the other clubs. It is just December, and saying they are out of the mix seems thoroughly absurd. However, simultaneously, Arsenal will come to lament these lost points later in the season if Chelsea are offered a large gap.
Romelu Lukaku needs to show up in big games to be a world-class striker
Very few people doubt the potential Romelu Lukaku possesses. The Belgian is, by far, one of the finest strikers around and is wonderfully talented. He has nine goals this season, which shows the quality he possesses. However, he has failed to dominate most of the bigger teams and score against (his former team) Chelsea, Manchester United and, on Tuesday night, against Arsenal (he did score against City).
It is also no secret that Lukaku holds high ambitions and wants to play for the European giants. For that to happen, he needs to help his team against the big guns, when he is required the most by his teammates and manager. He was timid during large parts of the game. Everton face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby next, and Lukaku must show he can deliver in the big games and help his side maintain some winning momentum.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is getting an extended run in the team
Surprisingly enough, Tuesday night marked the first time in almost two years that the 23-year-old has started four consecutive Premier League games. “Ox” is finally enjoying a decent spell in the first team and needs to make the most of these opportunities. Wenger spoke about the prospect of a new contract for the young winger.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s main criticism has been the lack of end product, and with two goals and four assists this season, this already is the best he has had in his career, so far. It’s time for the 23-year-old Englishman to build on this and ensure this season is the corner for him, and he is no more a player with potential, and instead, one with visible quality.