Football: Koeman defiant even after Arsenal blast

Everton's Nikola Vlasic is a picture of gloom after Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal 3-1 up in their English Premier League match at Goodison Park yesterday. The vultures are now circling over Ronald Koeman's head as bookmakers have him leading the "s
Everton's Nikola Vlasic is a picture of gloom after Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal 3-1 up in their English Premier League match at Goodison Park yesterday. The vultures are now circling over Ronald Koeman's head as bookmakers have him leading the "sack race".PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Everton fail to build on Rooney opener and visitors respond convincingly for 5-2 rout

LONDON • It was a lone voice but loud enough for Everton's power-brokers, Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright, to hear at the front of the directors' box at Goodison Park.

"Taxi for Koeman", came the cry from one disgruntled Evertonian. Others around him laughed. Most others left. Arsenal then scored their fourth. And their fifth.

Ronald Koeman needed a show of conviction, a sign of progress and a result with the pressure intensifying on his Everton tenure.

But his team were instead soundly beaten 5-2 in the Premier League yesterday, as Arsenal marked manager Arsene Wenger's 68th birthday with a first away win in the Premier League this season.

It all started so well for the hosts as Wayne Rooney curled a stunning 12th-minute opener into the net to give his side the lead.

"After Wayne Rooney's goal, it was a test for us. It was about how we responded to that - could we keep calm? We did that in a convincing way. Our passing and movement was excellent," Wenger told BBC Sport after the match.

Despite trailing, Arsenal dominated from then on, mustering 17 shots on goal in the first half alone, one of which was Nacho Monreal's equaliser from close range five minutes before the break.

  • 8

    Points, Everton's worst points tally after nine games of a Premier League season since 2005-06 (four points).

  • 20

    Number of times a manager won a Premier League game on his birthday, and the third time Arsene Wenger, 68 yesterday, has achieved this feat - more than any other manager.

  • 100

    Arsenal have scored 100 Premier League goals against Everton - the first time a club have scored a century against a single opponent in the competition.

Arsenal continued on the front foot after the interval, and took the lead in the 53rd minute via the head of Mesut Ozil.

Everton's Idrissa Gueye was dismissed 15 minutes later after collecting a second yellow card, before a goal from Alexandre Lacazette in the 74th minute and late strikes from Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez, coming either side of an Oumar Niasse consolation, capped a victory that moves Arsenal up to fifth but piles the pressure on under-fire Koeman.

The Dutchman's tactics for his team - who now lie in 18th in the relegation zone - were baffling.

What seemed to be a 3-4-2-1 morphed into a bizarre 3-3-3-1, with Gueye all alone in central midfield as Nikola Vlasic followed his natural inclination to attack.

Ozil and Sanchez prospered in the space either side of the stranded Senegal international.

Koeman did not explain what happened but admitted that Everton could not match the Gunners.

"The final result is very disappointing. I need to say Arsenal were the better team, but at 1-2 we were okay," he told Sky Sports. "After Gueye's sending-off, they had the quality to break us down. It was difficult to keep them out."

On his future, the 54-year-old said: "I don't know. The decision is not in my hands."

The eight points the Toffees have currently is their worst points tally after nine games of a Premier League season since 2005-06, when they had four points.

When probed further by reporters if he is even concerned by the poor results, Koeman added: "That's normal, that's football. We have played nine Premier League games against the first five of the Premier League last season.

"We are not in a position in the table that is good for Everton, I understand. But I have been in football a long time, don't tell me what can happen, I don't think it's too late."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Koeman defiant even after Arsenal blast'. Print Edition | Subscribe