Everton moved up to second in the Premier League while piling more misery on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal with a 2-1 victory at Goodison Park.
Everton took the lead when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flicked header from Alex Iwobi’s cross deflected off Gunners captain Rob Holding and into his own net (22), but Arsenal levelled with Nicolas Pepe’s penalty after Tom Davies’ foul on Ainsley Maitland-Niles (35).
Everton went into half-time ahead thanks to Yerry Mina’s near-post header from a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner (44), and Arsenal came closest in a quieter second half as David Luiz hit the woodwork with a deflected effort after Jordan Pickford had fumbled a cross.
A year on from both Carlo Ancelotti and Arteta taking their respective jobs, their seasons continue to go in opposite directions as Everton’s third straight win leaves them second to Merseyside rivals Liverpool for 24 hours at least.
Arsenal, who were “so short of quality in every department” according to Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp, see their rut continue. They stay 15th, with just 14 points from 14 games after losing five of their last seven in the Premier League.
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Everton: Pickford (6), Holgate (7), Keane (8), Godfrey (7), Mina (8), Iwobi (6), Doucoure (7), Davies (6), Sigurdsson (8), Richarlison (8), Calvert-Lewin (8)
Subs: Coleman (NA), Kenny (NA), Tosun (NA)
Arsenal: Leno (6), Holding (5), Luiz (6), Tierney (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Elneny (5), Ceballos (4), Saka (7), Pepe (6), Willian (4), Nketiah (5)
Subs: Willock (5), Martinelli (5), Lacazette (NA)
Man of the match: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
How Arsenal fell flat again as Everton look up
Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates Everton taking the lead against Arsenal through Rob Holding's own goal
The opening stages were stand-offish at Goodison Park, with both sides registering just one touch in the opposition box before Everton’s opener midway through the first half. Former Arsenal winger Iwobi’s low, early cross was flicked on by Calvert-Lewin, but hit Holding and found the bottom-left corner of his own net.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out with a calf injury, Arsenal lacked bite in the first half but equalised with their first shot on target as Davies’ swipe for a clearance caught Maitland-Niles in the area. Pepe stepped up and scored, becoming Arsenal’s leading goalscorer in all competitions with six.
Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal celebrates with team-mates Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos after scoring
After Calvert-Lewin had done superbly to win a corner as the clock ticked down to half-time, Sigurdsson’s resulting set-piece delivery found Mina at the near post as he peeled off Pepe and Bukayo Saka, glancing into the corner despite Bernd Leno’s touch.
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Incredibly, Mina’s last four Premier League goals have all been scored in the 45th minute, as Everton picked the perfect time to score.
Arsenal were handed a chance to level early in the second half as Pickford failed to collect Willian’s cross, but Luiz’s deflected half volley from 15 yards hit the post and fell fortuitously to a blue shirt in the penalty area.
Yerry Mina's header on the stroke of half-time guided Everton to a third-straight victory
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was out with a calf injury for Arsenal, but Mikel Arteta said he should only be sidelined for a few days. Willian came in for him, while David Luiz replaced the suspended Gabriel, and Gabriel Martinelli returned to the bench for the first time since his knee injury in June.
For Everton, Jordan Pickford returned in place of Robert Olsen, while the injured Allan was replaced by Tom Davies. Seamus Coleman was on the bench for the first time in two months following a hamstring injury.
The Gunners huffed and puffed – Arteta’s XI got younger and younger as Joe Willock was introduced and Gabriel Martinelli came on for the first time since March – but lacked quality in the final third. Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness said: “They’re struggling, they’re not playing with much effort, desire or fire in their bellies,” and that was evident throughout as they struggled to work a leveller.
Everton managed the game in the second half, thanks in large part to Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin’s hold-up play.
Dani Ceballos reacts to another disappointing Arsenal performance
Arsenal, who have not scored from open play in any of their last five Premier League away games, were restricted to long-range efforts as Pepe and the uninspiring Willian lashed well wide, and, despite some late pressure, Everton survived as Pickford tipped away Kieran Tierney’s late cross-shot to secure the points.
Everton were greeted to a huge ovation from the 2,000 fans inside Goodison Park upon the final whistle, but for Arsenal, the concern continues. The Gunners’ 14 points from 14 games this season is their worst record at this stage of a season since the 1974/75 campaign.
What the managers said…
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti: “It’s a great result as it was a difficult game. It was so difficult for all of the second half. At the end, we get the result and this is important. In all honesty, Arsenal played better than us in the second half when it was 2-1, and we wanted to defend properly. It’s true that we suffered, but the first half was good.
Carlo Ancelotti admits Arsenal were better in the second half but was delighted Everton held on for the three points
“At the end of the first half, the result was fair. We usually work on set pieces as we’ve scored a lot of goals in these situations. We’re really dangerous there and we knew that we could be dangerous in this game.”
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “Without conceding much we lost the game on two key moments. We reacted really well. We dominated the game. We created enough chances at least to not lose. We hit the bar. We don’t have the luck.
Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta says luck is not on their side at the moment after they went down 2-1 at Everton
“We are in a big fight. We lost against Burnley without them having a shot on target, and now we lose because of a couple of chances. It’s really difficult when you play a team who are defending low and wasting time. We make it difficult for ourselves conceding the first goal.
“I think we had 15 shots but only two on target. We need to improve our rate, that’s the reality. We need to generate more to win football matches. When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more. The boys are absolutely still fighting. They’re hurt right now.”
What’s going wrong for Arsenal?
David Luiz walks off dejected after the game
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
“For me, Arsenal have got the wrong people doing the wrong jobs. [For Everton’s second goal] Pepe is asked to go and be physical with Mina, but he gets brushed off. It’s a man against a boy, but people aren’t taking a step forward to try to attack the ball.
“Mina ended up with a free header, and we saw it last week against Burnley. At the moment, Arsenal are looking to take short-cuts at set-pieces by trying to man-handle opponents in the wrong way.
“They’re struggling, Arsenal. They’re not playing with any great effort or desire or fire in their bellies. It was a well-deserved win for Everton today.”
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal have just 14 points from 14 games
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“Arsenal are missing Thomas Partey, make no mistake about it. There was no creativity with not a shot on target in the second half. Once Arsenal get Partey, Aubameyang and Gabriel back, of course they won’t be in a relegation battle, but no one at the moment is taking responsibility. To not create chances in these sort of games is unacceptable.
“They look so short of quality. David Luiz’s body language was poor and that can transmit to the rest of the players. There are so many problems at the moment at Arsenal, it’s hard to put your finger on one of them.”
Can Everton make top four?
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
“I think they have got an outside chance of the top four. They are doing the basics right and they are working their socks off, closing down, stopping crosses and marking at set-pieces. The team they were playing against this evening are not doing that.
“Everton will not get you out on the edge of your seat all the time, but you have to give great credit to the manager. He knows his way around and Carlo has got them in good nick.
“I was surprised Ancelotti went there when you look at his CV, and I don’t think Evertonians would disagree, but he’s got them going in the right direction. The players have bought into what he’s trying to achieve.”
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Everton host Manchester United on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup last eight, live on Sky Sports Football at 8pm, before going to bottom side Sheffield United on Boxing Day at 8pm.
Arsenal host Manchester City on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup last eight, live on Sky Sports Football at 8pm, before hosting Chelsea in the Premier League on Boxing Day at 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
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