Arsenal defensive target passes audition with Everton masterclass

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Arsenal’s search for a tough-tackling, defensive leader willing to play nasty when required could well be over on the basis of Everton’s Europa League mauling at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv.

Because while the Toffees huffed and puffed as much as their Ukrainian opponents in front of goal, they were unable to blow the hosts’ house down.

Though it may sound surprising to say it, Everton’s 5-2 loss to Dynamo was very much a tale of two defences.

While both teams attacked with gusto throughout the game, only one crumbled with alarming regularity as the shortcomings of defenders like Antolin Alcaraz came into glaring focus.

At the other end, Dynamo stood strong with a certain Aleksandar Dragovic dominating much of the good defensive play showcased by the hosts.

A former Basel stalwart, the 26-year-old centre back was previously a target for Manchester United, but has more recently been linked with a move to Arsenal.

Commanding in the air and similarly confident with the ball at his feet, Dragovic was one of the few bright spots for Dynamo in the first leg at Goodison Park, keeping the scoreline at a respectable 2-1.

He continued his fine work against Everton in Kyiv, denying an offensively-minded Toffees side on several occasions and using all of his experience to ensure Sergei Rebrov’s side qualified for the quarter-finals with ease.

Still in his mid-20s, the Austria international’s peak years as a defender could be yet to come though any move away from Dynamo could come at a substantial price with Dragovic’s current manager hesitant to let him go.

Quizzed ahead of the first leg on Arsenal’s rumoured interest in the stopper, Rebrov went on the defensive.

‘He is a top-class player and I hope he will stay with us,” he said in quotes published by The Daily Mail.

But with the lure of the Premier League likely to be too much for a player with no personal ties to Ukraine, further progress in the Europa League may only increase the likelihood of Dragovic ending up at the Emirates.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.