With their two new bosses watching from the stands, Everton and Arsenal played out a tepid goalless draw in their English Premier League match at Goodison Park Saturday.
The game came just a few hours after Carlo Ancelotti was confirmed as the new Everton boss, while Mikel Arteta was unveiled Friday as Unai Emery’s successor.
The point has left Everton lanquishing in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone, while Arsenal has won only once in 13 games in all competitions, six points adrift of the final Champions League spot, having played a game more than fourth-placed Chelsea.
The scale of the challenge facing both new appointees was evident from this lackluster affair, with Everton, under the temporary charge of Duncan Ferguson for the final time, failing to register a shot on target, its only significant effort a second half shot from Dominic Calvert-Lewin that drew appeals for a penalty as it was deflected away.
Nonetheless, Ferguson’s caretaker reign after the sacking of Marco Silva has seen the Toffees come through a tough run of four games, with the only defeat the League Cup quarterfinal to Leicester City on penalties in midweek.
Ancelotti confirmed after the match that Ferguson’s services would be retained, as the 60-year-old attempts to boost the fortunes of a club with a proud tradition in the English top-flight.
“This is a great club with a rich history and a very passionate fan base,” Ancelotti said in a statement released by the club after he signed on a four-year-deal.
“There is a clear vision from the owner and the board to deliver success and trophies.
“That is something that appeals to me as a manager and I am thrilled at the prospect of being able to work with everybody at the club to help make that vision a reality.”
The three-time Champions League winner as a manager will take charge for the first time for the Boxing Day home clash with Burnley.
With Arteta officially starting his new job Sunday, Freddie Ljungberg took the opportunity in the final match of his caretaker spell to blood 19-year-old Emile Smith Rowe for his first start in Premier League, in a side that also included Reiss Nelson and teenagers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.
Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe were left on the bench by the Swede, with Mesut Ozil not in the match day squad.
Despite the changes, Arsenal was the better side and top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly put the Gunners ahead just after the break, drawing a fine save from Jordan Pickford before a second weaker effort from a good position was also gathered by the England goalkeeper.
Aubameyang was replaced by Lacazette late on, but to no avail, consolation for the visitor its first clean sheet in 15 games with defender Calum Chambers outstanding.
Man City closes gap
In Saturday’s late kick off, defending champion Manchester City revived its title challenge with a 3-1 home win over second-placed Leicester City.
Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead in the first half with a trademark finish, but that proved the highlight for the Foxes.
Former Leicester star Riyad Mahrez equalized on the half hour, with Ilkay Gundogan putting Pep Guardiola’s men ahead with a 43-minute penalty.
Gabriel Jesus continued his fine recent goalscoring form with the third on 69 minutes to seal the three points,
The defeat ended Leicester’s 11-match unbeaten run, but Brendan Rodgers’ team is still a point clear of Manchester City, but 10 points adrift of runaway leader Liverpool.