Gunner Thoughts

Arsenal – Everton: Standout Performers + Two Bonus Shoutouts

My standout performers, plus a little extra, for Arsenals domination of Everton.

Arsenal stroll past Everton in a 4-0 win at The Emirate to keep their title run rolling. Arteta wouldn’t state before the match that he believed there was an opportunity for revenge, but it was hard not to find it sweet like revenge can be.

As Arsenal look ahead to Bournemouth, I take a look at standout performers, plus two bonus shouts.

Bukayo Saka

Who else to start with besides Saka? Sure, you could start with Martinelli who was outstanding in getting his brace, but I have to start with a player who has not only proved he’s a star in this team, but across the world this season.

When Arsenal were struggling to make headway, and Everton were looking like the frustrating bogey team they have been, he absolutely rockets the ball into the net to send us ahead.

The goal is impressive. Another game with a goal and assist, very impressive. The way he has made another leap in levels to become a player you can reliably be counted on to step up and make THE play game after game after game, that’s stardom.

Last season you knew he could be the difference-maker; you knew he had it in him to create a chance or take a chance. This season, it has become almost inevitable that he will. It’s the mark of a superstar and at only twenty-one, it’s hard to believe this may only be a glimpse into the future.

Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli has been in terrible form since the restart of the season. Such bad form that he’s scored four goals Arsenal’s last three matches.

Trossard has helped these last two matches, a better Zinchenko makes a difference for the whole team, but Martinelli is really seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the freedom Arteta gives him to come central and create. Even against Aston Villa with Nketiah at Striker, we saw Martinelli relishing in the opportunity to come central. Now, with Trossard there, the space has really opened up, and there is plenty of reason to be excited by this, in combination with the impending return of Gabriel Jesus.

The start of this season was some of the best Martinelli play we have seen since he joined Arsenal and he is now regaining form at exactly the right moment. He is predatory in how he pounces on the loose ball for his first goal and he’s decisive in his run to get on Trossard’s cutback for his second.

In both goals, he has migrated out of his left wing position and Arsenal needed that. They were caught stale last time against Everton and Gabi wouldn’t be having a second helping of that; he’s mobile, roving, and dangerous. Just outstanding on the day.

Oleksandr Zinchenko

A few weeks ago, Zinchenko had fans breathing down his neck and screaming for him to be replaced. The criticism of his performances weren’t wrong, but they tipped into hyper-sensitive. Suddenly every step, pass, movement, or shot was examined to the blade of grass and judged harshly.

As I wrote about at that time, this sensitivity was too far and it didn’t acknowledge how important he is to this team’s success. When Arsenal are playing at their very best levels, you know Zinchenko is in the mix playing at his. He can make the team zip, his role covers all three phases of play, he brings a versatility to Arsenal’s attack, and it’s why I crowned him the most important player in the team while Jesus was injured.

Yesterday, he absolute gashed Everton’s defensive block. He roams all over the pitch, all the way to the right side and back, and it’s him that finds to defense splitting balls that lead to Saka’s opening goal and Eddie’s assist to Ødegaard. They are peaches of threaded through balls, and they were performed with the deft touch of a player that’s been in these matches time and time again… which he has.

Zinchenko brings not only the experience of winning the league, but of playing hundreds of matches against low blocks. He’s worked them, he’s split them, he’s beaten them.

It’s no surprise that when his performances were subpar, Arsenal as a team looked completely abject. He carries a huge burden and with the return of players from injury and a building of the depth, we can hope his burden is lessened so Zinchenko can just be “Zinny”.

Leandro Trossard

In my prematch blog, I wrote about a few aspects I believed Arsenal had to take advantage of if they wanted to win. One of those advantages was the discovery of how well Trossard could fit in this side at striker.

It may not be a permanent role for him, but his ability to move more like Jesus, create for others, and keep center backs trying to keep up is excellent. Given the easy day that Nketiah gave them the first time around, it seemed like Arteta had to try something different, and aren’t we all glad he did.

Trossard gets the assist for the dagger goal that seals Arsenal’s three points with ease in the seventy-first minute but all match he was excellent again. As a striker, he brings Arsenal closer to how they played with Jesus and that’s important for this team in retaining and reigniting their identity down the stretch.

It all came off as a masterstroke and he is someone that deserves a lot of credit.

The defense was outstanding as a whole. Ben White could have made this list as well but when a team scores four goals and retains 80% of the ball in the second half, it’s the attacking players that are going to get the special plaudits.

Having said that though, there are two players I want to give an extra shout out to:

Eddie Nketiah

First is a light shout out to Eddie Nketiah who ceded his role to Trossard, was put on the bench, and still came on as a substitute and brought the fire. We saw his ability to positively affect matches when Jesus was healthy and here he is doing it once more.

To me, it shows a level of maturity and fight for a young professional to take all this in stride and contribute. It’s really great to see and was even better to see him get an assist to Gabriel Martinelli.

In his 18 minutes he gets the assist, he has a shot that he probably should do better with but still puts on frame, and he really worked hard to bring the energy, even with the match being mostly settled.

His future is unclear but there’s plenty of professional life for a player like him – be that at Arsenal or elsewhere. Excellent to see him bounce back a bit.

Thomas Partey

In all honesty, Partey could have made that top list but I, one, felt like playing only forty-five minutes puts you at a disadvantage to standouts that play most the match; and two, selfishly wanted to create this bonus section and fill it with Partey praise.

Jorginho started that match and was good. It was a solid Jorginho performance with few complaints to be heard from me. However, when Partey comes in, you just quickly see the difference. It’s not that Jorginho is bad, he’s just competing with a professional that is very, very good.

Partey is that all-action holding midfielder that can break your press, he can beat you with the pass or the carry it out of danger, he drives with the ball to commit and move defenders, and he’s incredibly mobile defensively. If there was anyone questioning whether Arteta should keep starting Jorginho after Partey is fit to start, you’ve got your answer.

Thomas was instrumental in Arsenal’s ability to have 80% possession in the second half as he compiles 66 touches, 6/7 long balls, 56/60 (93%) passing, creates a chance, 2/2 in tackles, 5 recoveries, 3/4 duels won, and wins a foul.

All in one half? My word. Thats a full game’s worth of stats for some players.

He’s the superb in Arsenal’s superb second half and having him back for the rest of the season feels like the emotional boost this team and fanbase needs to get ourselves across the finish line.

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