Let's make no bones about this.
Arsenal were really very poor indeed today. Don't let that comeback and the point fool you - Everton were by some distance the better team, Arsenal were weak, panicky, couldn't tackle, and lacked attacking edge.
And yet, contrarily, this - the truly low-quality display from their side as they flailed around attempting to stop Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku - is perhaps what should reassure Arsenal fans most about the season ahead.
It's a truism in football that the mark of a strong side is winning while not playing well. It should, of course, be remembered that Arsenal did not win, but they certainly did not play well. And yet they've made an unbeaten start to the season, and have held on to their third place in the table.
I feel I must apologise to all Everton fans on behalf of Arsenal for not having the decency to lose today.
— Pompidou (@RealMattLucas) August 23, 2014
Sure, they lingered at the top of the league for weeks towards the start of last season, but they've already begun better than then, when they lost to Aston Villa - Aston Villa! - on the opening day.
And away to Everton last season they lost 3-0, with no sign at all of a comeback.
Today's ramshackle display did showcase the things the team lacks - but tenacity is not one of them.
And although many criticisms can and have been levelled at Arsene Wenger, he deserves all possible credit for his brave half-time change - removing his big-money summer signing Alexis Sanchez, disgruntled throughout that difficult first half, and replacing him with the unfairly-maligned Olivier Giroud, who ultimately made the difference with the last-gasp equaliser.
Good Plan B-ing from Giroud — Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) August 23, 2014
There are problems to solve, of course - the lack of firepower, the subdued creativity, the mistimed challenges - but these can indeed be fixed.
A win over Everton proved that even a dismal display doesn't necessarily mean that Arsenal won't rack up the points - and be in with a chance for more silverware come May.
Carrie Dunn - @carriesparkle
- Sports & Recreation
- Romelu Lukaku
- Steven Naismith