Jordan Pickford the lone shining light as Arsenal maul dismal Everton
Everton continue to plumb new depths in a season of near-constant wretchedness. Despite an extensive catalogue of misery to choose from in recent months, the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday stands as the most dispiriting of the lot.
The adventures of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford provide a snapshot of the issues placing Everton in complete disarray. On a day when the visitors scored five and could have had 10, Pickford was the best Everton player by a distance. That Pickford also had the most touches (52) and most attempted passes (35) tells you everything you need to know about the respective problems in possession and attack.
From the continued absence of any viable tactics to the cowardly surrender once reduced to 10 men after an Idrissa Gueye red card in the second half, this dismal offering needs to be the end of this particular chapter. If there is any trace of ambition within this football club, manager Ronald Koeman has to receive his marching orders before the trip to Chelsea next week.
The misery so often begins with the team news and this was no different. This may be the first match to bear witness to a one-man midfield, as Gueye was the only obstacle between Arsenal and an isolated five-man home defence short on pace throughout the first half. Only Pickford's heroics prevented a cricket score.
This setup bordered on a dereliction of duty. There was an inevitable half time substitution for the ninth time in 17 games. This was all so painfully familiar with Everton bereft of confidence and structure and lacking identity in any aspect of their game. Tactics seems plucked out of thin air of late. This is the worst start since four points after nine games in 2005-06.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Arsenal exposed hopeless tactics by carving the home defence open at will. Before Wayne Rooney grabbed an improbable opener against the run of play, the away side could have been three or four goals up in the first 10 minutes.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 8 -- The summer signing is so overworked it must feel as though he never left Sunderland. Without him, Everton could easily have shipped double figures.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- Outnumbered throughout the first half and fared little better in the second, as Everton seemed to spend the entire match without anybody supporting him on the right flank.
DF Michael Keane, 4 -- Struggled to deal with the movement of Alexis Sanchez and frequently had his turn of pace tested as wave after wave of Arsenal players marched forward unopposed.
DF Phil Jagielka, 4 -- Caught out horribly for the second Arsenal goal, allowing Mesut Ozil to drift into space and rise unchallenged to head the visitors into a lead they never looked like relinquishing.
DF Ashley Williams, 5 -- Made a good block early on but a booking and his recent fiery temper perhaps swayed Koeman toward sacrificing Williams when changing formation at half-time.
DF Leighton Baines, 5 -- Able to push forward on occasion and one sharp cross went unrewarded, but this was another punishing afternoon in the defensive third of the pitch.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 7 -- Excellent in the first half, even though the system left him doing the work of an entire midfield on his own, but the midfielder undid that with a rash tackle leading to a second booking and subsequent dismissal in the second half.
MF Nikola Vlasic, 5 -- Lively in the early stages but otherwise looked lost in central midfield and cheaply conceded possession for the third Arsenal goal that ended the match as a contest. Seems a much better option in wide areas.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- Scored a fine goal reminiscent of that effort against Arsenal 15 years ago, but there was little else beside that and his lack of positional discipline does more harm than good.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 3 -- Another afternoon spent on the left flank is clearly a waste of what talents he may be able to bring to this team, but this was a dismal display from first to last.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 7 -- Angry crowd reaction to his substitution underlined his impact to that point. Despite operating as the lone striker with support non-existent, the 20-year-old striker managed to keep the Arsenal defence occupied.
MF Tom Davies, 6 -- Shows more accountability and leadership through his style of play than many of his more experienced teammates.
MF Ademola Lookman, NR -- Ignored for most of the season but bizarrely thrown into the action with the team amid a mauling.
FW Oumar Niasse, NR -- Worked tirelessly and that persistence resulted in a goal late on.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.