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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Steven Pienaar said a sluggish start was the main reason for Everton's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Thomas Vermaelen headed the only goal of the game at Goodison Park just eight minutes in as the Blues slipped to a first home loss in nine outings.

David Moyes' men later saw a fine Royston Drenthe effort controversially ruled out for offside but South African Pienaar insisted that was no excuse for an off-kilter first-half showing.

"I think it was a poor first 45 minutes from us and we deserved to go a goal down," he said. "But I think in the second half we did much better and we could have got a goal back. Unfortunately, it's how you start the game and it ended up in a defeat.

"I didn't see [the disallowed goal]. I've heard most of the guys say it was onside. But sometimes the officials make mistakes and you have to deal with it."

Everton certainly started brighter in the second half and Pienaar revealed the feeling in the dressing room at half time had been one of frustration.

"The manager got into us and lifted everyone up," he said. "Of course we were disappointed because the supporters came here to support us and we let them down in the first half. But I think in the second half we gave our best to make it right."

Everton's next outing sees them travel to Premier League surprise-package Swansea.

Brendan Rodgers' side have lost just twice at the Liberty Stadium in the league this term and currently sit two points and two places above the Toffees in eighth.

"It's going to be a difficult one but we just have to keep our heads up, give everything and hopefully we'll get a win against them," said Pienaar. "They've definitely been in the good form recently and I think they've played the most exciting football in the league so far, and for us to go there is going to be tough.

"We just need to stick to our own game plan and make sure we get all three points.

"Tonight was disappointing and in the next two days we've got things to set right. Hopefully we can do that."

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