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Everton fringe players' chance

Everton
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Creaking defence damns Everton

Everton
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Ross Barkley dropped, poor vs. Arsenal amidst exit talk

A reckless Laurent Koscielny challenge after just 14 minutes handed Everton an opportunity to claim a first win at the Emirates, but this 3-1 defeat pointed to a team still very much in transition as manager Ronald Koeman finishes his first season in charge. More than 75 minutes playing against 10 men ought to have been enough to rectify a sluggish start and engineer a first win at Arsenal since Jan. 1996, but it was not always clear which team had the numerical advantage. Defeat extends Everton's winless run at Arsenal to 23 matches in all competitions.

Positives

With recent matches seemingly an inconvenience for a team powerless to improve on seventh place, the end of the season at least shifts attention toward the continued development of this squad this summer. Phase two of this rebuild begins now.

Negatives

Defensive issues featured prominently as the lack of pace within the defence once again disrupted an away performance. Koeman wants his players to press and be aggressive, but a central defensive pairing fearful of pace and sitting too deep is at odds with this approach.

This contrast leads to huge gaps between each section of the team and allows opponents such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to thrive in the open spaces available in front of a backline cut off from teammates. Pace and composure are necessary when Everton strengthen central defence this summer.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Team pretty much picks itself at this stage with Ross Barkley the only surprise omission from the starting XI. Koeman has to find a way to make Everton more competitive in these sorts of away games next term.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Joel Robles, 6 -- Questionable positioning when one-on-one resurfaced for the second Arsenal goal, but a number of other saves, particularly in the second half, kept the visitors in the contest.

DF Mason Holgate, 5 -- A mixture of inexperience and promise, the young defender too often lacked positional awareness but made a timely block in the second half. Preseason seems like a good time to test his credentials in his preferred centre-back position.

DF Phil Jagielka, 5 -- The sight of the club captain sprawled on the floor in the build-up to Alexis Sanchez doubling the Arsenal lead perhaps defined his afternoon. Isolated and left chasing shadows at times as a result.

DF Ashley Williams, 5 -- Perhaps fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a trip on Danny Welbeck, the veteran centre-back struggled early on before improving but looked vulnerable whenever the home side broke forward.

DF Leighton Baines, 6 -- Two vital interceptions as the defence crumbled around him in the first half. At the other end, it was his cross leading to the penalty, though the remainder of his deliveries from open play were not among his best.

MF Idrissa Gueye, 6 -- Sacrificed at half-time in favour of the playmaking ability Barry offers in the middle third, Gueye had mostly performed best of the players starting in central midfield and was perhaps unlucky to see his number called so early.

MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 5 -- The red card offered the French midfielder a chance to dictate the match and stamp his authority on it, but the opening went begging amid a subdued outing well below the usual high standards evident since his arrival.

Ross Barkley was thoroughly disappointing against 10-man Arsenal in what could have been his final game for Everton.

MF Enner Valencia, 6 -- On the receiving end of two hefty challenges, the West Ham loanee was a threat with his pace on his final appearance but lacked sufficient quality in the final third, wasting several crossing or shooting opportunities.

MF Tom Davies, 4 -- A rude awakening at the end of a fine breakthrough season as his afternoon lasted less than 30 minutes. Too many slack moments in the early stages probably sealed his fate as Koeman responded to the red card with an early change.

MF Kevin Mirallas, 5 -- Another of those games that seems to begin brightly before fizzling out to nothing, the sort of game some would argue defines him as a player. There were some encouraging moments but that turned to anonymity long before the end.

FW Romelu Lukaku, 6 -- Visibly frustrated by the quality of the service to him on more than one occasion, the Everton striker at least managed to reach the personal milestone of 25 league goals for the season.

Substitutes

MF Ross Barkley, 5 -- A disappointing display underlining why not all supporters hold the midfielder in high regard.

MF Gareth Barry, 6 -- The 36-year-old offered more than most in midfield, with two or three excellent passes toward attacking players deserving a finish to match.  

FW Arouna Kone, N/R -- This late cameo marked the final appearance of his mostly forgettable four-year spell at the club.

Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.

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