Yesterday I said that Arsenal needed to nullify the threat of Lukaku in order to secure the points away to Everton. What I neglected to mention is that they also needed to put in the required performance to deserve a victory. 

Perhaps I’ve taken that for granted recently. We’d been unbeaten since the start of the season and whilst the performances haven’t always been good – sometimes downright terrible – we’ve been picking up points each time. But last night we finally came-a-cropper with a pretty inspid performance.

There’s a lot to be annoyed about last night. At the weekend the talk was about our ability to come from behind. We’ve done it a fair few times this season. But what we needed yesterday was to hold on to a lead. That particular skill went missing from our game.

Arsène named the same team as the weekend and after the first ten minutes or so, this looked like a similar performance to that of West Ham, as we dominated the possession and camped in their half. We got the goal on 20 and all was looking rosy. Except this was one of those Arsenal performances. You know the ones. You’ve seen this play out like me dozens and dozens of times. We go one up, look in control, a little bit of complacency and a failure to go for the jugular gives the opposition some hope, then eventually we find ourselves behind. Then what usually happens is we put in a little more urgency as we try to rescue a game we were in control of.

Sound familiar? Yep, sure it does, and yesterday followed that formula. Even though Everton scored on 86 minutes, we still could have rescued the game, had Iwobi’s effort not been blocked on the line and Clattenberg seen the clear penalty that Alexis had as Mirallas tripped him seconds later. But I’m not going to dwell on that, rather I’ll look at the previous forty-odd minutes in which we’d decided that we’ll just go through the motions and all will come good.

It didn’t.

I’m very frustrated this morning. Frustrated because that defeat was entirely avoidable if we’d have displayed the same level of intensity as we did against Stoke at the weekend. But also, if we’d have been a little bit stronger both physically and psychologically against an Everton team that were on their knees, confidence-wise. All it took for Everton to get more of a grip on the game was to win a couple of tackles and get the crowd going, and suddenly we looked a little bit lost. I don’t really get that. These guys are professionals. Each of them have played in hostile environments overseas and at home. So why did they wilt with a little bit of noise? It’s just a bit strange when you see a performance like that.

I’m also frustrated because Everton weren’t that good. They played long diagnals to Lukaku and yes, he won a fair share of them, but that was pretty much their plan. Long diagonals and set pieces, or balls in to the box. And we were undone by that. It was like seeing us go down to Stoke MkII. And I get that it’s a style of football, that some teams play like that and we need to accept it, but I’d have thought we’d got over the whole ‘cold night in Northen City X’ malarkey? Now we have to hear it all over again from pundits who will have nothing better to say than “Arsenal don’t like it up ’em”. 

It didn’t click yesterday, none more so than our forward line, who were pretty poor to a man. Özil had a stinker and his ‘defending’ for their winner was criminal. I saw somebody on Twitter say they’d rather he just wasn’t in the box than do what he did for their goal. Go on YouTube and watch it. It’s shameful. But it wasn’t just him who underperformed yesterday. Alexis got his goal but never really looked like he had that spark. Theo did what Theo does. He went missing and when the Ox also endures a difficult night, it compounds our attacking performance, which fizzled out after about half an hour in the match. That Iwobi chance at the end and the Özil effort over the bar is all I can remember of the second half. That’s not really good enough, is it?

Then the subs. Iwobi hardly got involved and Giroud is a guy you want competing for balls in the box. I might be wrong, but I think we put just two in after he came in. We just weren’t playing in the style that suits him and so the substitution just looked like Arsène playing his ‘ALL THE FORWARDS’ card. You’d hope for a bit more thought in your substitutions really, from a guy who’s been a manager for decades and decades, no?

And so to the manager, who said he can’t fault his players attitude, but it just didn’t work tonight. Perhaps he’s right. But when I see his teams constantly underperform against another manager like Koeman, you can’t help but think that there’s something in it when people say Arsène gets schooled by some managers. How can it be that somebody like Koeman has such a good record over a number of games, with inferior teams? You can put one, maybe two, results down to isolated incidents. But when it keeps happening year-in, year-out? Then you need to start looking at what he’s doing that has Arsène so flummoxed. 

We’ve been on a decent run, picked up plenty of points and have got ourselves within touching distance of the top. It’s Jenko means the end of the world, but with Chelski almost certain to win their next two away games, we could find ourselves nine points adrift of them by Christmas Day. With the competitiveness of the league as it is this season, it isn’t insurmountable, but it will leave us with a mountain to climb in the new year to even get close to them.

Let’s just hope the team can respond on Sunday.