Leicester 1-1 Swansea: Swans hold Foxes
LONDON -- Everton manager Sam Allardyce slammed his players for putting on "a pathetic performance" in Saturday's 5-1 loss at Arsenal and accused them of not following his instructions.
Allardyce had made it clear he wanted to emulate Swansea's performance in their 3-1 win over the Gunners on Tuesday, but Everton were 3-0 down after just 19 minutes as Arsenal ran riot at the Emirates.
"I'm still angry," a fuming Allardyce told a news conference. "I think that accepting an instruction is part of a player's responsibility at this level of football. And we tried to give those instructions with the best information we possibly can in the time available. ...
"We set out to play like [Swansea], but unfortunately Swansea played at the top of their game and we played at the bottom of our game, which is to say that any tactics and any system you pick is absolutely worthless if your players don't play to their best.
"And if you play at the Emirates, you've got to play at your best, all 11, if you're to get anything out of the game. And unfortunately, none of our first 11 in the first half played anywhere near their best.
"That's why we were tumbling goals left, right and centre with our pathetic performance."
It made for a disappointing homecoming for Theo Walcott, who left Arsenal for Everton in January and started for the Toffees.
Walcott had the visitors' best chance in the first half but had his shot blocked for a corner, then delivered a pinpoint cross for Oumar Niasse in the second half only to see the forward hit the post.
Allardyce then took Walcott off to a rousing ovation from the home fans, with the score 4-0.
"It's a shame the players have not just let themselves down, but when somebody comes back to a club like Arsenal and they've been here 12 years, he wants to put on a good show," Allardyce said.
"But I mean, clearly the pathetic performance that we showed didn't give him the opportunity to go out against his old club and shine."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger hailed newcomers Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after impressive first starts for Arsenal, saying "it looks like they have played with us forever."
Mkhitaryan had three assists, including one for Aubameyang to score with a lovely chipped finish on his debut, as Arsenal overwhelmed Everton 5-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
It was an impressive start for this new-look Arsenal side, with Aubemeyang and Mkhitaryan having joined in a tumultuous January transfer window.
"Overall, the two players integrated our game well, and they look like they have played with us forever," Wenger told a news conference. "Because they have similar qualities to what our game is about. They are technically good, they are quick. It was a convincing first performance."
Mkhitaryan also assisted on two of Aaron Ramsey's three goals as the Welshman netted his first Premier League hat trick, and it's clear his connection with Aubameyang still remains from their days at Borussia Dortmund.
Mkhitaryan came on as a substitute in Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Swansea while this was Aubameyang's first Arsenal appearance after joining from Dortmund on Wednesday.
The Gabon striker only had one training session with the team this week, and Wenger warned that he will only get better as he gets used to his new surroundings.
"I feel the quality of his movement was excellent, the quality of his finishing was excellent. That is not completely at his best physically, he has still some work to do physically," Wenger said.
"I like the quality of his movement I must say. He is always looking to go in spaces that are very difficult for the defenders to cover. When we know him better and understand him better, I think he will be more dangerous."
Ramsey certainly seemed to enjoy playing with his new teammates as well, popping up in the box to meet two crosses from Mkhitaryan and scoring with a deflected shot from distance. That's the kind of performance Wenger wants to see more of from the midfielder.
"I felt always that he had between 10 and 15 goals at least in his locker," Wenger said. "He didn't do it until now because I think he rushed sometimes his finishing. He looks much calmer. The only difference I see, he doesn't rush it. That's the secret to being efficient."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.
LONDON -- Three points on Arsenal 5-1 Everton in the Premier League on Saturday evening.
1. Arsenal bounce back in style
For all the excitement over the arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, coupled with the welcome news that Mesut Ozil has committed his long-term future to the club, it's worth remembering that Arsenal desperately needed a victory here. Six points behind Tottenham and eight points off the Champions League places, and recent defeats to Bournemouth and Swansea have left Arsenal in a real state. A nervy first 20 minutes here, and Arsenal would have started to get frustrated. Instead, after 20 minutes, they'd effectively already won the game.
Their opener arrived after just six minutes, and for a move that featured two newcomers, it was a classic Arsenal goal. Ozil dropped deep, played a pass towards Aubameyang, who was making a run to receive the ball into feet, and he flicked it around the corner to Mkhitaryan on the right flank. His low cross was converted from point-blank range by Aaron Ramsey.
Mkhitaryan was up and running in terms of assists, and nearly in terms of goals too. Just two minutes after Ramsey's opener, the Armenian cut inside from the left flank and unleashed an excellent attempt from 25 yards out, which missed the target by a ball's width, with Jordan Pickford well beaten.
Arsenal were flying. Ramsey broke down the right and played a cut-back to Aubameyang, who had deceived Ashley Williams with a clever run towards the ball, but he found his subsequent effort blocked by the recovering Welshman and behind for a corner. From that corner, Arsenal won another: Ozil's out-swinger was flicked on by one centre-back, Shkodran Mustafi, towards the other, Laurent Koscielny, who stooped and bravely nodded a bouncing ball home. If the first was classic Wenger-era Arsenal, the second was classic George Graham-era Arsenal; Wenger's assistant, Steve Bould, was a master of that near-post flick-on in his playing days.
Just 20 minutes in, it was 3-0. Ramsey had oceans of space to tee up a long-range effort, and his drilled shot took a wicket deflection off Williams, diverting the ball past Pickford. Game over -- and a strong response to the desperate defeat to Swansea.
2. Aubameyang/Mkhitaryan combo torments Toffees as Ramsey shines
Wenger wasted no time in throwing Arsenal's record £60 million signing Aubameyang straight into action, spearheading the side ahead of Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. Alexandre Lacazette, who had managed just one goal in his previous 11 starts, was on the bench.
For the opening half hour, Aubameyang took a backseat as others shone, only coming close with the aforementioned blocked shot. But after 35 minutes, there was the first demonstration of his tremendous speed in behind the opposition defence. With Arsenal's new centre-forward making a run in the inside-left channel, Ozil curled the ball into the acres of space between Everton's defence and goalkeeper, and Aubameyang roared past Michael Keane on to the ball. Stumbling slightly as he controlled it, Aubameyang produced a slightly scuffed shot with his less favoured left foot, comfortably saved by Pickford. That Ozil/Aubameyang combination will become a familiar sight over the coming years.
It's not just Ozil who can provide those clever through-balls, though. Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang had a fine relationship at Dortmund, and shortly before half-time, they combined in typical fashion. Mkhitaryan's threaded pass found Aubameyang -- right on the shoulder of the last defender and definitely offside -- and he produced a wonderful finish with his left foot, over Pickford and bouncing slowly over the goal-line. He celebrated by pointing instinctively to his old friend Mkhitaryan, who had bagged his second assist of the game.
After Arsenal had largely switched off for the second half, Mkhitaryan livened things up 15 minutes from time -- he recorded his "assist hat trick", teeing up Ramsey for an actual hat trick, a goal remarkably similar to Arsenal's opener. With all eyes on Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Ozil, it was Ramsey who provided the standout performance in a hugely comfortable win.
3. Woeful Everton deserve thrashing
Sam Allardyce's intentions were clear from his team selection. The addition of an extra centre-back meant a switch to a five-man defence, so it was clear Everton were likely to defend deep. The inclusion of Oumar Niasse, with Yannick Bolasie and Theo Walcott out wide -- and the exclusion of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney -- meant Everton were going to depend upon speed going forward. Playing on the break, though, is somewhat difficult when you concede after six minutes and are forced to chase the game.
Everton's defending here was shambolic. There was absolutely no cohesion in the three-man defence, with Eliaquim Mangala looking hapless on debut, seemingly confused about his positioning and vulnerable to runs down the outside. He received no support from Cuco Martina, who performed well against Leicester in midweek but remains very uncomfortable on the left. The defensive line was often completely lopsided, which meant Arsenal got in behind very easily, and it was no surprise when Allardyce switched to a back four at half-time.
The returning Theo Walcott had one major opportunity 25 minutes in, when he drifted inside from the right flank and was sent through on goal in an inside-left position, with Nacho Monreal desperately trying to keep up. Walcott checked inside on to his right foot -- sending Monreal the wrong way -- and shot, but the attempt was blocked by a brilliant last-ditch effort from Mustafi. Arsenal fans generously chanted Walcott's name, something you suspect wouldn't have happened if Arsenal weren't already out of sight.
Walcott also created a fine chance five minutes into the second half, curling a fine cross behind the Arsenal defence to the far post, but Niasse could only prod against the post. He was Everton's main threat and received another warm ovation from the home supporters when substituted after an hour. His replacement, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, provided some consolation for the away supporters, powerfully heading home Martina's floated left-wing cross. Everton's second-half effort was commendable, but playing well when 4-0 down isn't a great look.
Michael Cox is the editor of zonalmarking.net and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Zonal_Marking.