Liverpool, United Kingdom, Dec 21 – Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta were shown the huge jobs that lie ahead as managers of Everton and Arsenal respectively as they watched their new sides play out a drab 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Ancelotti was confirmed as the Toffees new boss on the morning of the match, 24 hours after Arteta took charge of Arsenal.
Both new managers were in the stands with Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg in temporary charge for the final time.
And the lack of confidence of two sides struggling at the wrong end of the table was obvious in a match completely devoid of quality.
A point edges Arsenal into ninth, but the Gunners have now won just once in their last 13 games in all competitions.
Everton move up to 15th, but are only four points clear of the relegation zone.
Ferguson’s role in Everton’s impressive victory over Chelsea and draw at Manchester United in their last two league games was enough to ensure the temperamental Scot a role in Ancelotti’s backroom staff.
However, there was a dramatic dip in his side’s energy levels as they looked jaded after a League Cup quarter-final defeat on penalties to Leicester in midweek.
“The boys were on their last legs to be honest after working so hard in the last three games,” admitted Ferguson. “We still covered every blade of grass, we just lacked a bit of quality in the final third.”
Ljungberg named a youthful Arsenal side with 19-year-old Emile Smith Rowe starting for the first time in the Premier League alongside Reiss Nelson and teenagers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.
Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe were among those left out by the Swede, who won just one of his six matches in caretaker charge.
“We had a very young side out there because I wanted energy and I wanted to give them chances,” said Ljungberg.
“I thought we could have won the game with the chances we had, but I loved the spirit we saw and that’s what you need in the Premier League.”
Unlike Ferguson, Ljungberg’s future under Arteta has not been clarified, but he hopes to remain as part of the coaching staff.
“I’ve been told by the club they want me to stay but I will have a meeting with Mikel tomorrow and hopefully it’s a good one.”
– Substituting a substitute –
Neither side managed a shot on target before the break, but Arsenal had the better chances in the second half.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was denied by a fine save from Jordan Pickford as he pounced on Callum Chambers’s flick on from a corner before the Gunners’ captain fired too close to the England number one with his next effort.
Ljungberg’s final decision of his caretaker spell was a brave one as he replaced Aubameyang 13 minutes from time as Lacazette was finally called on from the bench.
However, the focus was again snatched by Ferguson’s substitutions as for the second straight week he replaced a substitute.
Moise Kean was the victim of his impatience at Old Trafford last weekend as the Italian international was hooked after just 18 minutes.
This time it was Kean who was introduced for Cenk Tosun, who had come on early in the game for the injured Alex Iwobi.
But Kean could not make himself a hero by scoring his first Everton goal as Arsenal held out for a first clean sheet in 15 games.