LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom (AFP) – Arsene Wenger called on spluttering Arsenal to show more consistency after a 1-1 draw at Everton left the Gunners languishing in seventh place.
Theo Walcott, on his return from a shoulder injury, put Arsenal in front after just 52 seconds at Goodison Park on Wednesday, but Marouane Fellaini responded with a 28th-minute equaliser.
Wenger’s side are now 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United after just two wins from their last seven games, and also five points away from the fourth and final Champions League place.
The Frenchman felt a draw was the right result but, while he was happy with his players’ commitment, he wants to see more quality and consistency at key moments.
“I believe 1-1 is a fair result,” Wenger said. “It is a good point here. It was a game of remarkable intensity. We needed great spirit.
“We hope we can improve. We have played 14 games, eight away, played both Manchester clubs away from home. If we play well at home, we have a chance to come back.
“We should have been a bit more clinical but the effort we put in was good.
“Our job now is to push on. We have built a new team, we have players like Jack (Wilshere) back and we are hopeful we can go from strength to strength. We need to show that now as we have to be consistent.”
For Everton manager David Moyes, there was frustration at referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to award a second-half penalty when Gunners midfielder Mikel Arteta appeared to bring down Steven Pienaar.
“We should have had a penalty,” Moyes said. “A lot of games are won by decisions referees make and don’t make — we got nothing. We were not going to get a jot tonight.”
Arsenal had won on four of their last five visits to Goodison and started impeccably as Aaron Ramsey teed up Walcott to find the net within a minute of the England international making his return from a shoulder injury.
A timely reminder for Wenger that he needs to get Walcott to pen a new contract before possible suitors can lure him away in the summer for nothing.
But Everton were level thanks to Fellaini who curled in from 25 yards after Bacary Sagna played a loose ball across the pitch that the Belgian picked up and duly tucked away.
The goalscorer almost turned creator after 39 minutes when he flicked on to Nikica Jelavic who turned Per Mertesacker with ease but his resulting strike was well over.
After the break, confusion in the Arsenal penalty area gave Pienaar a chance but Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved at his near post.
Arsenal wasted a late chance when Olivier Giroud over-hit a cross that second-half substitute Gervinho could not reach.
Everton have now gone eight games with just one win, but Moyes had plenty of praise for his side as they bounced back from Arsenal’s early opener.
“I thought we played really well against a good Arsenal team,” Moyes added.
“Great credit to the character my players showed. We deserved to get back into the game because of the way we played after that early goal.”