Everton secured a hard-fought and well deserved 1-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Saturday, February 4.
In a game between the two teams having very contrasting campaigns, all eyes were on the Toffees as former Burnley manager Sean Dyche was announced as their new manager with this being his first game in charge. Everton have picked up just one point in their last six league games – a run they were desperate to end.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have made a high-flying start to the season as they hit the 50-point mark after 19 league games. They have won four and drawn one of their last five games in the Premier League, maintaining their hold on the top spot in the table.
The only thing in common between the two teams is former Evertonian and current Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, who was named Manager of the Month in January. In doing so, he became the first Arsenal manager to win the award thrice in a single season.
Everton made a slow start to the game as they dropped back and sat deep, allowing Arsenal to control possession of the ball for extended spells. However, they did well to restrict the visitors to very few shots throughout the game. The hosts attempted eight shots in the first period, with two on target. The Gunners, on the other hand, hit the target twice as well.
However, neither side managed to create clear-cut chances as both sides jostled in midfield to gain control of the game. Arsenal and Everton went into the break deadlocked at 0-0.
Arteta did not wait long before turning to his bench as he brought on new signings Leandro Trossard and Jorginho just before the hour-mark. However, the Gunners found themselves trailing just minutes after the alterations. Dwight McNeil set up James Tarkowski as the hosts grabbed a deserved lead after an hour of play.
Everton dug deep and did well to fend off a late onslaught by Arsenal as they received four yellow cards in the second period. They restricted the Gunners to just four shots on target in 90 minutes, which played a big part in their win.
The Toffees have now crawled out of the relegation zone, one point ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth. Arsenal, on the other hand, will look to bounce back with a win in their next game.
On that note, here are the five talking points from the game.
#5. Arsenal have struggled to attack from the left wing
The Gunners made a high-flying start to the season thanks to lovely chemistry between Ben White and Bukayo Saka on the right, and Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus on the left. However, since Jesus’ injury, Arsenal’s attacks have been concentrated through the middle or down the right wing.
Martinelli has not been able to form that quick passing dynamic with Granit Xhaka or Oleksandr Zinchenko. Their build-up speed was visibly weak in the first half today.
#4. Everton have won three-in-a-row against Arsenal at home
Sean Dyche’s first game in-charge was by no means going to be a walk in the park. However, as the manager himself explained in his post-match interview, the players and the staff put in immense effort during the week to ensure maximum effort.
Everton have defeated Arsenal at home in each of the last two seasons, with Mikel Arteta seemingly unable to find a win at his former club. Today’s win makes it three consecutive wins for the Toffees against Arsenal at Goodison Park, the first time this has happened since the 1977-78 season.
#3. Sean Dyche seems the perfect fit for Everton
Dyche’s announcement was welcomed with relief and excitement from many Everton fans as they believe he is the right man to lead them back to being consistent. With former Burnley players Michael Keane, Tarkowski, and McNeil, he will find it easier to propagate his beliefs and demands to the squad.
They also have the perfect personnel to execute the playing style Dyche prefers to play with. In Dominic Calvert-Lewin, they have a lethal marksman, waiting to be fed by deliveries from wide areas by McNeil and Alex Iwobi. Tarkowski and Conor Coady form a solid defensive pairing, while Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye add steel in central midfield.
#2. Arsenal will look to bounce back soon
With a titanic clash against Manchester City just weeks away, the Gunners have very little room for error in their upcoming fixtures. City face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, which will be a game Pep Guardiola’s men will be looking to win at all costs following today’s result.
New signings Trossard and Jorginho have looked decent in the limited minutes they have played for. However, the onus will be on Arteta whether he makes changes to his starting lineup or not.
#1. Sean Dyche must avoid relegation at all costs
Everton are one of a handful of clubs that have never been relegated from the Premier League. Avoiding the drop this season will make it 78 consecutive seasons in the top flight for the Toffees.
With 17 games still left to go and 51 points to play for, they are in a very tough spot just one point outside the relegation zone. However, with a new manager and a solid system, they will try their best to avoid going down.