Rio Ferdinand believes Arsenal now face the ultimate test of their Premier League title credentials after slumping to a shock defeat against Everton.
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Goodison Park, energised by the appointment of Sean Dyche, was at its raucous best and created an atmosphere that helped throw the league leaders out of their stride.
Arsenal were pressed relentlessly by the likes of Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi as they struggled to create opportunities and test Jordan Pickford.
Everton always carried a threat, meanwhile, particularly from set pieces and it was not surprise when two of Dyche’s former Burnley charges, Dwight McNeil and James Tarkowski, combined to create the winning goal on the hour mark.
The Toffees survived a few nervy moments late on but ultimately were well worth the victory and the three points that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Arsenal, meanwhile, could see their lead at the top cut to two points if Manchester City win at Tottenham on Sunday, albeit the champions will have played a game more, but Ferdinand believes they still hold the edge in the race for the title.
He told BT Sport: ‘Arsenal, we have been sitting here all of us believing they can win this league and I put them as favourites and I still put them as favourites and edge them slightly.
‘It’s a real psychological test for them now though, how do they handle this bump in the road? It’s a big learning curve for them.
‘I think they’ve come up against that type of low block quite often but the aggression I saw today teams haven’t been able to get close enough to Arsenal to play like this. They play so slick and play through teams.
‘These are the moments and times where you want your star man and game changer to turn up and produce and that can sometimes override the system.’
‘There will be big long spells where it’s not going your way. Can you come out of those moments?
‘It’s going to be the experienced players even like Jorginho who has just come in to be with the youngsters when you’ve dropped points and let them know it’s not the end of the world.
‘You have to find positives in this performance to maintain that momentum and confidence.’
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