The best that could be said of this anticlimactic affair is that both Everton and Arsenal will be reasonably happy with a point apiece. Duncan Ferguson said he wanted to be tucking into Christmas dinner with another three points in the bag, but as Everton games under their colourful caretaker manager go, this was quiet.

As openings of new eras go, with both Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta watching from the stands, it was worryingly underwhelming. Everton saved one of their most insipid performances of a below average season for their freshly arrived new manager, while Arsenal gave an adequate account of themselves but no more, Freddie Ljungberg’s challenging selection giving Arteta plenty to think about. The bad news for Ancelotti is that his new side looked as if they could play until Christmas without scoring a goal, and though credit is due to a callow Arsenal side for showing resilience the Italian must already be concerned about how Everton might perform against a proper Premier League side, not one showcasing their talent at under-23 level.

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