Instead, sides are taking on Arsenal full of confidence that they can claim a scalp and three points.
Everton – like Tottenham and Wolves before them – showed no fear in letting Arsenal have the ball and that in itself is telling.
Sides just aren’t scared of Arsenal’s attack right now. They back themselves to be able to keep them at bay and stifle them.
Arsenal rallied late on in injury-time, drawing a good save from Jordan Pickford, but other than that this was straight forward for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
They took the lead through a Rob Holding own goal and they regained it before the break when Yerry Mina cancelled out Nicolas Pepe’s penalty.
After that, Everton sat back and soaked up what little pressure Arsenal put them under. They didn’t really need to get out of second gear – and this was a side without regulars like Allan, James Rodriguez, Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman.
Arsenal’s play was similar to it has been all season, with their end product lacking. They finished the game with two shots on target and their goal was once again not from open play.
The worry for Arteta will be how Everton were happy to let Arsenal have the ball. They didn’t fear the Gunners; in fact they smelled blood instead.
They were rewarded for their efforts with three points and now Arteta faces a massive week. First up is Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday and then Chelsea in the Premier League on Boxing. Arteta prospects of a Merry Christmas look bleak.
Holding has night to forget after being made captain
It is a sign of Holding’s growing influence that he was handed the captain’s armband against Everton. The defender looked like he was off in the summer, with a loan move to Newcastle on the cards, but Arteta eventually pulled the plug on it.
Holding has since fought back into the Spaniard’s plans and he has been a mainstay in the defence this season. The centre-back has risen so far up the ranks that he was captain tonight, but this was not the game he would have dreamed of it.
Not only did Arsenal slump to a defeat, but Holding scored an own goal. There was little he could do about it, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header flicking off him, however it summed up a miserable evening for Arsenal.
Aubameyang injury sums up Arsenal’s luck right now
Just when Arteta thought his luck couldn’t get any worse, his star forward gets injured. It was only on Wednesday night that Arteta was hailing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for ending his drought, but by Saturday he was bemoaning his absence.
The forward missed Saturday’s trip to Goodison Park with a calf issue and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Arsenal. They desperately need a win now – and goals – and after Aubameyang scored against Southampton in midweek you wondered if he might start to find his feet this season.
Now, though, Arsenal will have to cope without their captain. Luck just isn’t on Arteta’s side right now.
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