This was supposed to be the day when Arsenal showed they had the muscle to go the distance in the race for the top four.
Unfortunately, the Gunners saw their Champions League hopes suffer a major blow with a 1-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday
Instead, they returned to London with question marks once again surrounding their ability to stay ahead of fellow Champions League-chasers Chelsea and Manchester United.
As good as they have been at the Emirates – where they have won 10 in a row in the Premier League – they have been abject away from the capital and that form continued at Goodison Park on Sunday as Everton took full advantage of Arsenal’s makeshift midfield.
Granit Xhaka has always been a player who has divided opinion in north London, but the Switzerland international has become an increasingly influential figure in Unai Emery’s debut season.
Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay him is that Arsenal look a far worse side when he is not in the team and that was the case once again on Merseyside as
the visitors were comfortably brushed aside by their hosts.
With Xhaka sidelined due to a thigh injury and with Lucas Torreira still suspended, Emery went with a midfield pairing of Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi – surprisingly leaving Aaron Ramsey on the bench.
And it was a decision which backfired massively. This was just Elneny’s third Premier League start under Emery and you doubt he will get another chance to impress before surely being sold this summer after an abject 45 minutes here.
The Egyptian is a tidy enough player, but his preference for safety first can be hugely frustrating.
Whereas Xhaka receives the ball and looks to split the midfield line quickly to get the forwards into play, Elneny’s first thought against the intensity of the Everton midfield was to turn back and start again.
And with Guendouzi struggling to get on the ball alongside him, Arsenal found themselves overrun in the first half, with the front three of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexandre Lacazette left totally isolated.
Phil Jagielka, who was only brought into the starting XI when Michael Keane dropped out ill just before kick-off, poked the home side in front after 10 minutes and they never really looked like surrendering that lead.
Emery changed things at half-time, hauling Elneny off in favour of Ramsey – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also coming on for Sead Kolasinac – and there was a slight improvement.
Ramsey had a couple of chances – one which he certainly should have done better with when he volleyed over – but in truth Arsenal did not deserve to return to London with anything to show for their efforts.
Emery’s side have now won just one league game away from the Emirates since November and on the evidence we saw at Goodison Park that run of form does not look like ending anytime soon.