Everton vs Arsenal - Koeman trying to get the best out of his struggling players

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2016 by PA

Everton boss Ronald Koeman is holding regular meetings with his players in a bid to arrest their Premier League slump.

Koeman's side started the season brightly but have won only one of their last 10 matches in the Premier League, leading to dissatisfaction from the club's supporters and a slide towards mid-table mediocrity.

In that period the Toffees have salvaged draws against Manchester City and Manchester United, but Koeman is not hiding from the reality ahead of Tuesday's home match against another title challenger, Arsenal.

"Of course you need to work behind doors about the future of the club but the problem is now. We need to win now," he said.

"Every week there are several meetings about this. This type of meeting is normal much more when you are in a difficult situation.

"It's all about commitment of players, bringing your quality to the team and that's why we spoke together about how we can do it together to get a better run of results.

"But finally the answer is on the pitch, not between the four walls in a meeting room."

Koeman, who was warmly welcomed by supporters when he replaced Roberto Martinez, is fast falling from grace in the stands.

A social media faux pas over a Christmas tree decorated in the red of Liverpool notwithstanding, he understands the growing frustration.

"That's not so easy (to take) but I know most of the opinions because if I'm an Evertonian I will also be disappointed about one win out of 10," he said.

"That is not what we need to do. Of course we will not win every game but one out of 10 is underperforming for everyone and also for me."

Yet there was a hint from the Dutchman that merely increasing physical exertion, which always goes down well in English football, was not a panacea.

"You need to understand sometimes these kind of situations and it's not an easy answer like 'fight more, run more'. It's not all about this," he said.

"It's about quality on the ball, movement, creating chances. You need to play football to understand these kind of situations."

An Arsenal side with a fine record against Everton and an unbeaten run stretching to 14 games in the league are hardly opponents Koeman would have wished for.

"This Arsenal team is better than it was," he assessed.

"I have the experience with Southampton of beating Arsenal several times but I think this Arsenal is more in balance between attack and defence. In my opinion this season Arsenal are really one of the favourites to win the title."

Yannick Bolasie and Mo Besic are the only first-team absentees with long-term knee ligament problems.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger insists he will not waste five years developing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just to let the England star leave Arsenal.

It has been reported that the club are yet to open talks over a new contract with the 23-year-old, who has 18 months to run on his current deal at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal are locked in negotiations to extend the deals for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil who have similar terms remaining on their existing deals, but Wenger is adamant Oxlade-Chamberlain is integral to his plans as well.

"I want Oxlade-Chamberlain to stay at the club," said Wenger.

"I bought him at a very young age, I think he's developing well. This season he's making steps, moving forward.

"When you've invested so much time and work in a player, and the player loves it here and is integrated in the qualities we want him to have..... overall, I want him to stay."

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2011 and has won 24 England caps since his 2012 international debut.

"I believe that first Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's career, like Theo Walcott's career, has been stopped many times by injuries," said Wenger.

"He has had many, many setbacks, and I think it's the first season where he's had a consistency of presence.

"They play in positions where maybe the physical demands are higher than any other positions. On the flanks today you need to come up and down, you need to defend as well as being dangerous going forward.

"So you need to find the level of a good balance, and it demands a little bit of experience.

"Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is much more efficient going forward now, he can provide, he provided a good final ball for Ozil on Saturday. And he can score goals himself, and that's what you want from him.

"We are a squad of 25 people. It's the position where the physical demands are the most important. That's subject to more changes than other positions, changes are more frequent and more normal."

Gabriel is likely to slot in at centre-back against Everton to replace Shkodran Mustafi, who will be missing for three weeks with hamstring trouble.

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