Arsenal completed a 4-0 demolition job of strugglers Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, March 1.
The Gunners and the Toffees last met a month ago in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge of the Goodison Park outfit. Everton ran out 1-0 winners in that game, courtesy of a goal by James Tarkowski. Despite a defeat in that game being a major setback for Arsenal, they have since bounced back in style, winning two of their last three in the league.
Tonight’s visitors remain 18th in the table with 21 points on the board, one short of Leeds United in 17th place. Dyche and his men will be looking to make their way out of relegation trouble, while Mikel Arteta’s side will look to win their first league title in almost 20 years. This promised to be an exciting clash due to what it meant for the two teams at opposite ends of the table.
Arsenal started the game cautiously but passed the ball around well as they looked to find gaps in the dogged Everton defense. However, the Toffees kept their shape and organized their press well to win the ball high up the field. Despite just 34% possession in the first period, they had a greater number of chances. They attempted four shots, hitting the target twice.
The Gunners, however, had to wait a while before they found space to register their first shot on goal. They used quick movement into the gaps to progress the ball forward as players switched positions to move Everton’s defense out of position. Arsenal scored with their first shot on goal as Oleksandr Zinchenko provided an assist for Bukayo Saka in the 40th minute.
Everton ended the period on a further low as Idrissa Gueye lost the ball on the edge of the box, allowing Gabriel Martinelli to score as Arsenal led 2-0 at the break.
Both managers turned to their respective benches at the break as they both made changes in defensive midfield. Thomas Partey and Mason Holgate were brought on as Jorginho and Gueye made way. However, Arsenal were beaming with confidence as they looked to extend their lead. They dominated possession, barely allowing the Toffees a sniff of the ball.
Arsenal added a well-worked third goal in the 71st minute as Leandro Trossard played a lovely pass into the box, with Martin Odegaard making a late run to meet it and score. The hosts continued to push forward as they looked to make the most of a shell-shocked Everton defense. They added a fourth goal in the 80th minute as substitute Edward Nketiah set up Martinelli for his brace.
The Gunners secured an important result as they won their game-in-hand to now go five points clear of Manchester City, with both having played 25 games. With that said, let’s recap the five major talking points from this game.
#5. Everton started the game on the front foot
Everton made a positive start to the game as they pressed high up the field and man-marked the Gunners’ players in midfield. They coordinated their press really well, thwarting the hosts’ usual silky passing style. This forced Arsenal to play the ball into wide areas and try to find space over the defenders with long balls. However, the Toffees dealt with aerial threats effectively.
The Gunners were also forced into 1-v-2 situations in wide areas as Everton’s midfielders dropped deep to double up. This suffocated the hosts’ output from wide areas in the early stages.
#4. Arsenal’s players switched positions seamlessly
The Gunners had to find different ways of moving Everton’s players out of position, so they rotated positions frequently. Zinchenko often drifted into central midfield and even drifted onto the right flank at times. Martinelli dropped into the central area as he looked to draw the Toffees centre-backs out of position. These intricate movements worked, creating a chance for their first goal.
Martinelli drew Michael Keane out of his position, allowing Saka to drift into the gap created between Keane and Vitaliy Mykolenko. He then received the ball and turned his back to the Ukrainian to nullify his presence before firing a shot high into the net to give Pickford no chance of making a save.
#3. Idrissa Gueye fell prey to Arsenal’s high press
Gueye’s pocket was picked deep into first-half stoppage time as he was unable to release the ball in time. Saka made the most of this and closed him down, winning the ball and pushing it towards Martinelli. The Brazilian broke forward and scored only to be initially denied his goal for offside. However, replays showed he was narrowly behind the ball as Saka played it to him, and the goal stood.
The two-goal cushion gave Arteta’s men some breathing space on the cusp of the interval, after which Idrissa Gueye did not make it back onto the pitch as he was replaced.
#2. Arsenal were dominant in possession with Thomas Partey
While the Gunners did reasonably well on and off the ball in the first period, the team as a whole looked a different beast when the Ghanaian was brought on. Partey covered a lot of key areas in midfield, allowing the likes of Zinchenko and White to push forward. He also distributed the ball well, playing six accurate long balls. He also won three duels, making two tackles in the process.
Partey’s impressive 56 passes with 93% accuracy helped Arsenal sustain pressure on Everton for lengthy spells, effectively playing them out of the game.
#1. Sean Dyche’s Everton are in the thick of a relegation scrap
Having defeated Arsenal just over a month ago, Everton came into this game with some assurance that they could replicate their performance. They made a strong start and played well for 35 odd minutes but made two costly errors before the break to completely blow the lid on their previous efforts.
A deflated Toffees side came out for the second period, conceding 81% of the ball to Arsenal as they could barely get a touch. They conceded two more goals, losing 4-0 in the end.
Everton are now 18th on 21 points from 25 games, having played one more game than both the teams above and below them. This defeat was also a landmark as Arsenal became the first team to defeat an opponent 100 times in English league history.
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