Everton came from behind to defeat a lacklustre Arsenal 2-1 at the Goodison Park on Tuesday in the match week 16 of the Premier League.
Alexis Sanchez had given the Gunners an early lead with a powerful free-kick that went in past a wrong-footed Maarten Stekelenburg via a deflection. But Everton did not let the lead last long as their two full-backs combined brilliantly, with Leighton Baines sending in a delightful cross for Seamus Coleman to head the ball past Petr Cech.
After the restart, Arsenal should have gone ahead but Mesut Ozil missed his chance from the close range. Chances were few and far in between, with Phil Jagielka seeing his effort saved by Cech in the Arsenal goal. But soon after, the Toffees went ahead from an Ashley Williams’ header coming from a corner. Arsenal threw caution to the wind in the latter stages in search of an equaliser and managed to get a few shots that troubled Everton, but the home team held on to take all three points from the game.
With the result, the Gunners failed to go to the top of the table and with Chelsea playing Sunderland tonight, the gap between the leaders and Arsenal will most likely widen. Everton, though, will be pleased with the result that helped them move up to 7th place in the standings, after a series of disappointing results.
On a night where Arsenal dominated possession with 58.2% of the ball, they failed to create enough chances and test Stekelenburg in the Everton goal. The Gunners had a total of 9 shots on the night with only three of them on target. These misses proved to be extremely costly for Arsene Wenger’s men. Everton on the other hand, despite having the lower share of the ball (41.8%), had 14 attempts at goal out of which 5 were blocked and 4 were goal-bound.
The Gunners also played more passes than their opponents with 523 attempted passes of which 418 were accurate meaning a success rate of 80%. However, only 185 of the attempted passes were in the final third of the pitch, indicating their ineffectiveness in getting past the Everton defence.
Everton meanwhile, made 357 passes on the night at a success rate of 70%, but what was pleasant to see was almost 50% of those passes (179) were made in the final third of the pitch. The Toffees also made more key passes (11) than their rivals on the night (6). They also had more success in dribbling past their opponents with 11 out of the 14 attempted dribbles being successful compared to just 7 for the Gunners from their attempted 14.
Arsenal conceded more corners (8) on the evening than the Merseysiders (3) and were punished duly for the second goal from one. Everton also had the upper hand when it came to aerial duels, winning 22 compared to Arsenal’s 21, from the 43 attempts. These would prove to be the key as Arsenal conceded both the goals from headers inside the box.
The home team presented a sturdy defence throughout the game with their tough-tackling and no-nonsense approach. They made 32 tackles on the night, 3 more than Arsenal, and succeeded in 25 attempts, whereas the Gunners had success in 18 of their 29 tackles. Everton also made more clearances (28) than the Londoners (24) and managed to dispossess their opposition 18 times compared to Arsenal’s 15. Wenger’s men, however, made more interceptions on the night (17), almost double than Everton (9).
Despite enjoying a lion’s share of possession, Arsenal lacked the bite and weren’t as big a threat going forward at Goodison Park and were guilty of spurning the opportunities that they did manage to carve out for themselves. With Manchester City up next for the Gunners, they will have their task cut out against Pep Guardiola’s men as the battle for top four heats up.
Everton on the other hand, came out with a plan and executed it to the dot and thanks to two goals from free headers, walked away with the three points on the evening. This win could not have come at a better time for Ronald Koeman’s side as they will go head to head against Liverpool next week in the Merseyside derby.