Arsenal stuck in neutral

Arsenal isn’t going forward, but they’re not really taking a step backwards either. Right now they’re not sinking in quicksand or escalating up the Premier League table. The team is just stuck in neutral after another draw, their third in the last four matches. This one was a 1-1 stalemate with Everton at Goodison Park on Merseyside. They got off to a fantastic start as Theo Walcott banged in his 10th goal in all competitions this season after just 52 seconds of play.

Lukas Podolski sat this one out as he was reportedly under the weather and hopefully that explains his sub-par performance in the 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on the weekend. Aaron Ramsey took his place and went 80 minutes before Gervinho replaced him.  Walcott was back after sitting that match out with a shoulder injury and Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson found themselves on the bench while Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen were inserted into the back four.

However, Gibbs wasn’t glued to the bench long as he had to enter the game after about four minutes when Laurent Koscielny went off due to a groin injury. The bad news here is that the French international is expected to be out of action for about three weeks because of it. However, previously injured midfielder Tomas Rosicky made it back as far as the bench after sitting out the season up to now.

Everton had most of the play after the Gunners took the lead and big Belgian forward Marouane Fellaini leveled the score after 28 minutes. Both teams picked up the pace in the second half and created several chances, but the keepers were up to the task and the end result was basically another two points dropped. Again, Wenger puzzled supporters when Arsenal needed a goal for the three points when he took off Santi Cazorla just before injury time and replaced him with Francis Coquelin. He did the same thing against Villa on Saturday when he put Coquelin on for Olivier Giroud in the 86th minute.

The draw means Arsenal took just six points out of a possible 12 in their past four matches and has 21 out of 42 on the season. That pace will definitely have to be improved on if they want to get out of seventh place and pass Spurs, Everton, and West Brom for the last Champions League spot. More bad news came from White Hart Lane where Spurs beat a mediocre Liverpool side 2-1 and jumped ahead of the Gunners. Even though Chelsea was putting the fans to sleep again at Stamford Bridge with another 0-0 draw against Fulham, and West Brom was beaten 3-1 by Swansea, Arsenal didn’t gain any ground.

Also, three teams, Swansea, Stoke, and West Ham could all pass Arsenal this weekend if the Gunners can’t beat Swansea at the Emirates and Fulham could draw level with them. This means the team needs to get back on track as soon as possible before they slip any further down the standings.

Here are the player ratings for the 1-1 draw at Everton on Wed. Nov. 28

Wojciech Szczesny  8
The Polish international made some fine saves and played a pretty good game overall. The Fellaini goal was perhaps questionable, but other than that he was there when needed.

Bacary Sagna  6
He struggled at times crossing the ball and had a hard time with Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines. Everton’s attack was focused on Sagna’s side of the pitch. He more or less gave the goal away with a header right to Fellaini.

Thomas Vermaelen 7
When Laurent Koscielny left after four minutes he moved to centre back and played well enough

Laurent Koscielny
The French international defender was subbed after four minutes with a groin injury and is expected to miss three weeks.

Per Mertesacker 6.5
He also had a hard time with Fellaini. He was also beaten by Jelovic and didn’t have his strongest game.

Mikel Arteta 6.5
Didn’t have his best game in his return to Everton, his former club. Was fortunate he didn’t give away a penalty.

Jack Wilshere 7.5
The English international played well by moving forward and trying to create chances. Was probably the best Gunner on the pitch.

Santi Cazorla 7
Cazorla wasn’t at his best or worst. He created some chances, but was taken off in the 90th minute for Francis Coquelin.

Aaron Ramsey 6
Not his best game either, but he wasn’t as bad as some fans like to make out. He just needs a confidence booster to get back on track. Taken off in the 80th minute for Gervinho

Theo Walcott 7
Walcott scored his team-leading 10th goal in the first minute. He was marked out of the match for spells though. Gave Giroud a fine cross and played a pretty good game overall.

Olivier Giroud 6
Giroud didn’t get a lot of service and struggled a bit when the ball finally arrived to him. Put in an effort, but the results were lacking. His best moment was a header at goal.

Substitutes
Kieran Gibbs 7
Gibbs came on in the fourth minute for the injured Koscielny and played fine.

Gervinho 5.5
Another mediocre game from this forward after coming on in the 80th minute for Ramsey.  Didn’t do much with the ball when he had it other than give it away.

Francis Coquelin
Wenger told the fans he was happy with a draw instead of going for a win when he brought Coquelin on in stoppage time for Cazorla.

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