KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: New managers Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta know now that the immediate challenges as they start work this week at Everton and Arsenal are even greater than they thought.
The veteran Italian and the rookie Spaniard sat near to each other in the directors’ box at Goodison Park as the fallen giants played out an awful goalless draw. Ancelotti, three times a winner of the Champions League, had been confirmed as successor to sacked Marco Silva earlier on Saturday, while Arteta had been named as Unai Emery’s replacement on Friday.
Arsenal, under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg for the last time, came closest to scoring. Gabriel Martinelli shot wide in the first half and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew a fine save from Jordan Pickford in the second. Everton, under caretaker Duncan Ferguson for the fourth and final time, produced even less.
The Toffees failed to record a shot on target in a Premier League home game for the first time since they lost 2-0 to Manchester United on January 1, 2018.
Arsenal caretaker Freddie Ljungberg is likely to revert to his role as academy director. He said: “I always knew I was interim manager to steady the ship and I feel I’ve done that. Mikel knows Arsenal very well from his time as a player.”
Arteta’s immediate challenges are to improve dressing room morale, tighten up a sieve-like defence and resolve the uncertainty around his former midfield partner Mesut Ozil.
Ljungberg was not impressed by Ozil’s angry reaction on being substituted the previous week against Manchester City. Ozil missed the Everton trip with a foot injury but Ljungberg said: “Mesut was injured but I would not have picked him for the squad here because I wanted to make a stance: that behaviour is not what I accept from an Arsenal football player.”
Arteta makes his managerial debut at Bournemouth on Thursday (Boxing Day, December 26) while, simultaneously, Ancelotti leads Everton at home to Burnley.
Ancelotti has less natural talent at his disposal than Arteta. His immediate task is to lift Everton away from the fringe of the relegation zone and build towards a happier future next season. This might be a challenge too far for a man more at home among the European elite than the English strugglers.