SPORT
07/04/2014 05:24 BST | Updated 07/04/2014 05:59 BST

Everton 3-0 Arsenal: 'Spineless' Gunners Can't Adapt

Now Arsenal have made it 20. They shipped six at Manchester City and five at Liverpool, they sieved another six at Chelsea and Everton put three more past them on Sunday. Barely a fortnight goes by without another Arsenal identity crisis.

Yes, they did not lose to any of the aforementioned top five opponents at home in the Barclays Premier League and yes, their run-in is more favourable than their fourth-place contenders, Everton, who entertain both Manchester clubs and travel to Southampton. But that is all Arsenal seem to aspire to be these days. Fourth best.

David Dein was in the stands at Goodison Park to remind their supporters of the force they used to be. This could, finally, be the summer Arsenal realise balance sheets and aesthetic football do not appear on the honours board. Arsène Wenger's anger was so evident after their meek display on Merseyside he did not offer a single frivolous excuse. He saw all the incidents.

arsenal

Mikel Arteta experienced an unhappy return to Goodison Park

Wenger's future is so opaque it is believed he has not even told his assistant, Steve Bould, whether he will stay at the Emirates Stadium beyond this season. Every year, his position comes under question and every season he just about rides it out, albeit without filling the space in the club's sparse trophy cabinet. Ironically, an FA Cup win (should Arsenal defeat Wigan Athletic in Saturday's semi-final) might hardly make a difference.

Perhaps what frustrated Gooners the most during their latest defeat was how Everton resembled the energy and spirit of Wenger's best sides.

Roberto Martínez has excelled so quickly at Everton even Steven Naismith resembles an adequate Premier League footballer. Martínez arguably blunted the Blues' attack by starting Ross Barkley and Steven Deulofeu on the bench, yet Naismith was influential for the second successive game. David Moyes deserves credit for initially identifying him as a worthy squad member, but Martínez has honed him into an impact striker with a penchant for important goals. The Scot has scored winners against Chelsea, Swansea and Arsenal this campaign.

Arsenal, however, were gormless and spineless, with a team populated by players of the same feeble ilk. Mikel Arteta, ever undroppable, was overwhelmed, Santi Cazorla appears to have a phobia of defending and Olivier Giroud seems to have forgotten the season extends beyond January.

arsenal

Captain Jack Sparrow wished he had more rum to null the pain

Even Mesut Özil, one of the most celebrated signings in the club's recent history, has succumbed to the Arsenal effect. Although he is injured, he is another flamboyant lightweight who has struggled without guidance. At Real Madrid, he had Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo to cajole him and nurture his mercurial streak; all of them are seasoned winners with lofty standards. Madrid only won one title in the three seasons Özil spent at the Santiago Bernabéu, but the failures were not as feeble as Arsenal's.

How dispiriting it is for Arsenal supporters that four of their substitutes were touched by Romelu Lukaku's celebratory hug for Martínez. Tony Adams abhorred defeat so viscerally he once fired a flare gun into a disabled toilet at a Pizza Hut because he was being taunted by supporters of rival clubs. Arsenal could do with channelling some of that commitment, regardless of Adams' bygone era antics.

"We have a [run-in] that is feasible but we must focus on the quality of our displays before dreaming of places," Wenger cautioned after a fifth League defeat. The use of "dreaming" was an appropriate noun for the Arsenal manager to use when describing Champions League qualification. The club's winning mentality is so risible players will pose with a mini trophy to commemorate a top-four finish. League positions are also not chiselled onto the honours board.

Photo galleryEverton 3-0 Arsenal See Gallery