An early Christmas present for Everton as Arsenal conspire to turn victory into defeat

The Arsenal we all know and hate came back with a vengeance on Tuesday night as we threw away the chance to go back to the top of the Premier League.

It was the type of performance many of us hoped we had seen the back of this season where, having gained the upper hand, we allowed our opposition to get a foothold in the game before being overawed by them.

After half-an-hour we should have been a few goals to the good. Everton were awful. They were wracked with self-doubt, their tactics were all over the place, and we were attacking with purpose and with real menace.

The hosts came into the game in a pretty awful run of form and it showed. Quite simply, they were there to be beaten, and the first 30 minutes proved that.

We managed to get ourselves in front, a goal which our play and ambition deserved, but then, inexplicably, we allowed Everton to grow into the game.

We started giving the ball away cheaply, abandoned our sensible passing in favour of speculative through balls, and invited the hosts to press and win balls back from us in dangerous positions.

Our own ineptitude allowed Everton to grow into the game and, inevitably, they clawed their way level, capitalising on a rank piece of work in defence – a catalogue of simple errors that were punished by Seamus Coleman.

Arsenal steadied things a little in the early stages of the second half but it was clear that something was still missing. From the excellence of their performances against Stoke City, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott plumbed the depths at Everton. Both of them were all but anonymous last night and should scarcely have made it past the hour mark, let alone the 70th minute.

We played well in short spells in the second half but the same old errors continued. We carried on giving the ball away cheaply and, when you do that, it is a matter of time before you are made to pay. Regardless of the validity of the decision to give the corner, Ashley Williams was unmarked at the back post to nod home the winner, just as he has done against Arsenal before, in Swansea colours.

It was another error that could easily have been avoided and it was frustrating in the extreme to watch a team playing as poorly as Everton were to nick a winner.

As many have already said, the luck we have enjoyed for a lot of this season came to an end last night. We had two shots cleared off the line, which nobody is really at fault for, it’s just one of those things, and Alexis Sanchez was scythed to the ground in the box in the last 30 seconds. It was a penalty and there is no good reason why Mark Clattenburg didn’t give the decision, other than the circumstances of the match.

If the foul had been committed 20 minutes earlier, would he have given it?

One thing is certain, it’s easier to ignore an incident like that in the last minute, with the match hanging in the balance, than it is to give it and cause controversy.

That decision aside, it remained a disappointing effort from Arsenal. They fired in patches but pretty well allowed Everton back into a game they had no right to. We were in control, we were the better side, and we carelessly gave this game away.

I’m well aware that Goodison Park is a difficult place to go and get three points but there is no excuse for giving up a winning position, especially if you harbour ambitions of winning the league.

We were not outplayed last night, and that is the hardest part to deal with. When we played Paris Saint-Germain we were matched and, in places, bettered by a very good team. Against Everton we allowed ourselves to be beaten by succumbing to the pressure that we created for ourselves.

For a team that started December so well, this is a big backwards step that came out of the blue. It was a typical Arsenal performance and the kind of defeat, from a position of victory, that has cost us dearly as a club over the years.

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