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Venue: Goodison Park
Premier League
Saturday 19 December 2020; 5:30pm
2 1
Holding (o.g.) 22'
Mina 45'
Half Time: 2 - 1 
Pépé 35'
Attendance: 2,000
Fixture 14
Referee: Andre Marriner

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Match Summary
Match Report
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  Iwobi (Coleman 83')
  Richarlison (Kenny 90'+2)
  Calvert-Lewin booked (Tosun 90'+3)
  Subs not used
  Allan (injured)
  Delph (injured)
  Digne (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Gomes (injured)
  Rodriguez (injured)
  Gibson (loan)
  Kean (loan)
  Walcott (loan)

  Tierney booked
  Elneny booked (Willock 64' booked)
  Pépé (Martinelli 71')
  Nketiah (Lacazette 76')
  Subs not used

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
C Palace 0-7 Liverpool
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Newcastle 1-1 Fulham
Southampton 0-1 Man City
Brighton 1-1 Sheff United
Man United 6-2 Leeds
Tottenham 0-2 Leicester
West Brom 0-3 Aston Villa
Burnley 2-1 Wolves
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham

1 Liverpool 31
2 Leicester City 27
3 Manchester United 26
4 Everton 26
5 Chelsea 25
6 Tottenham Hotspur 25
7 Southampton 24
8 Manchester City 23
9 Aston Villa 22
10 West Ham United 21
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 20
12 Newcastle United 18
13 Crystal Palace 18
14 Leeds United 17
15 Arsenal 14
16 Burnley 13
17 Brighton & Hove Albion 12
18 Fulham 10
19 West Bromwich Albion 7
20 Sheffield United 2

Match Report

Old habits die hard and it makes these dogged and professional games where Everton get themselves ahead and then dig in to protect what they hold nerve-wracking to watch. Evertonians of any vintage remember all too well how often their side would try and sit back against opposition teams and inevitably concede to toss away points but they’re now having to get used to the pragmatism and game-management of Carlo Ancelotti, a man not averse to finishing a match with seven defenders on the pitch in the interests of seeing out a match.

This evening’s second-half against Arsenal was not a comfortable watch and it came on the back of a first period that wasn’t much better. But this was also the third match played by an injury-hit side in the space of seven days so, having got themselves back in front on the stroke of half-time, you could forgive the Blues if they sat back a bit and dared a team struggling for goals and points to break them down.

To be fair to Mikel Arteta’s side, they tried manfully but just lacked the quality to negotiate Everton’s increasingly low block consistently enough and by the end they were banging their heads against the same brick wall that confronted Chelsea and Leicester last Saturday and Wednesday respectively. It says much for how far the Gunners have fallen despite their impressive cup form that Everton almost completely ceded the midfield battle in the second half and only fleetingly looked like being punished for it.

And yet Arsenal did came close to wiping out their hosts’ lead for a second time early in the second half when David Luiz hit the crossbar and it needed a save from the returning Jordan Pickford in the closing stages to ensure that Ancelotti will toast a third successive victory this evening.

A year into their respective managerial tenures, Ancelotti and Arteta find themselves in very different positions, Everton heading into Christmas sitting in the top three while Arsenal languish towards the bottom of the Premier League table. The visitors’ approach early was indicative of their lack confidence as the two teams sized each other up in cagey fashion for a quarter of an hour before the first real moment of excitement presented itself from the unlikely boot of Michael Keane.

The centre-half strode forward as space opened up ahead of him and unleashed a swerving missile of a shot that bent agonisingly within a whisker of the post from thirty-plus yards out.

Seven minutes later, Alex Iwobi, playing against his old club, capitalised on more space afforded him by Arsenal to whip the ball in from the right where Calvert-Lewin got a glance on it with his head and it flew in off Rob Holding for what would go down as a 22nd minute own goal.

Arsenal responded and three minutes later Eddie Nketiah found himself completely open to collect Kieran Tierney’s cut-back but he snatched at the chance and dragged it well wide. 10 minutes later, though, Arteta’s men were handed a route back into the contest.

Ben Godfrey, again performing admirably as a makeshift left-back, made an uncharacteristic error by giving the ball away as he tried to knock the ball forward for Richarlison and Ainsley Maitland-Niles intercepted before putting the ball in towards the six-yard box. Yerry Mina stooped low to head it away and Tom Davies clumsily felled Maitland-Niles as he tried to collect the loose ball giving referee Andre Marriner an easy decision to award a penalty.

Nicolas Pépé assumed responsibility for the spot-kick and calmly slotted it past Jordan Pickford to make it 1-1.

With Allan out injured, Davies had been asked to step into the breach and while he had a decent enough first 45 minutes, he was emblematic of a lack of creativity from the Blues that largely characterised their performance as a whole. It was a display crying out for the invention of someone like James Rodriguez and, in the second half, someone like Bernard, but in the Colombian’s absence, the onus fell in Iwobi and Richarlison, both of whom popped up now and then with decent contributions without ever really stamping their authority on the game.

Importantly, in the absence of any consistent imagination or ideas going forward, Everton fell back on the industry of Calvert-Lewin and their threat at set-pieces to reclaim the lead. The striker’s overall work-rate deserved a goal and he almost got it on the stroke of half-time when he tested Bernd Leno with an excellent left-footed strike from the edge of the box that was heading for the top corner until the keeper finger-tipped it behind.

From the resulting corner, Gylfi Sigurdsson delivered the ball to the near post to meet Mina’s run and the big Colombian defender steered a header impressively on goal and past Leno at his near post for his second goal of the campaign.

The challenge laid down to a side that had scored just three times in nine games was to earn their way back into the contest for a second time and Everton gave them the confidence they needed after half-time by allowing Arsenal to control the tempo and the direction of play.

Ancelotti’s back line looked comfortable dealing with it for long stretches but when Pickford flapped at an attempted punch under the attentions of Holding and the ball dropped to David Luiz, the Blues were relieved to see the defender’s shot come back off the face of the bar.

Forays forward by Godfrey and Richarlison ended with crosses just eluding their targets in the middle and Keane came close to ghosting on to a Sigurdsson free-kick but otherwise, offensive moments from Everton were few and far between until a corner came out to Iwobi and he lined up a half-volley that deflected wide.

That left Arsenal, with Willian dropping deep to direct attacks, to carry the bulk of the threat in the closing stages as Everton dug in resolutely led by the tireless Abdoulaye Doucouré, who was a stand-out again as he protected the back four, and Ancelotti managed the clock with late substitutions.

Arteta introduced Alexandre Lacazette and the Frenchman added a more potent dimension to Arsenal’s attack but it was another substitute, Joseph Willock, who popped up in front of goal but headed wide and Pickford repelled Bakayo Saka's shot/cross with a strong, one-handed save in stoppage time as Everton secured the victory.

So, hardly a performance to set the pulse racing but the win was paramount and the fact that it was secured without the team playing especially well in an attacking sense – not to mention without three of its best and most creative players – bodes very well as the manager deals with injury absentees and mounting fatigue as December wears on.

In that sense, with just two shots on target, Everton were a model of efficiency as they climbed into second place in the Premier League for the time being and go into to Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final in a rich vein of form.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton were back at Goodison Park to complete a narrow win over struggling Arsenal, taking them back up to 2nd in the Premier League table.

Seamus Coleman returns to the squad, as expected, but only on the bench with nine substitutes named for the first time this season. Davies replaced Allan in the starting line-up, while Pickford was rotated back in for Olsen.

Among the substitutes were Branthwaite and Nkounkou along with Gordon and of course a third goalie in Lössl. Gomes had a 'little problem' in training and Carl Ancelotti did not want to risk him, with a game coming up on Wednesday.

Arsenal kicked off but their progression was halted and Everton looked to build an attack but Sigurdsson's cross was hopelessly overhit. Keane tried a Route-One ball that was fielded by an Arsenal defender. Everton tried to build slowly with short back and side passing, inviting the press, until Iwobi gave up the ball.

Everton probed and poked again until it broke down once again at Iwobi. Arsenal went long, Godfrey shepherding the ball behind and out of reach of Pepe. More short back and side passing ended with a direct ball that saw Calvert-Lewin slip. Another slow attack saw Iwobi cross to the hands of Leno.

Keane got given a lot of space and decided to wellie a shot from distance that was not far off the post. Arsenal were content to play deep and deny the Blues much space for anything creative. That was until Iwobi made another inward run and fired a tasty ball for Calvert-Lewin but his header was going wide until redirect by Holding just behind him, and into the Arsenal net for the first goal of the game.

This was just what the game needed as it had descended into a moribund pattern. Arsenal would now be expected to come out a little and indeed Ketia was given acres of space to drive his shot well wide of Pickford's goal. Arsenal then got a couple of corners, one off a particularly strong tackle from Godfrey.

Iwobi went on another run but ran into a cul-de-sac. Not much was happening until Davies was unfortunate to give a penalty away when Maitland-Niles appeared from his blind side to challenge for a loose ball. Pepe put it away from the spot.

Playing out rom the back finally worked with CL picking up the ball and trying to set up fr a shot until Tiernry took him out in the dee. Sigurdsson's effort was utterly hopeless, distracted perhaps by a main lying behind the wall to prevent the daisey-cutter.

Ceballos should have seen red for the way he came in on Mina, but Mariner only gave him a yellow. Nketiah gt a chance to shoot but there was no real power in it. Calvert-Lewin worked his way into a good position and put a great shot in toward the top corner that brought a tremendous save from Leno. A perfect corner from Sigurdsson met perfectly by Mina this time could not be kept out by Leno.

It was end to end at the start of the second half. One good break by Richarlison saw Sigurdsson miss his pass and the follow-up shot was not a threat. Arsenal looked to play in NKetiah with a tasty cross that beat everyone.

Everton came under some pressure with Arsenal dominating possession, Saka got inside but Holgate blocked him very well. Pickford flapped at a cross, David Luiz delivered it back in, deflected off Doucouré's block onto the angle.

Richarlison went chasing the ball around as Arsenal were attacking, giving away a silly free-kick but Saka wellied it high over Pickford's goal. Everton finally won a free-kick in the Arsenal half when Calvert-Lewin was fouled but nothing came of it.

Godfrey went on a tremendous run down the left but Calvert-Lewin got just too far ahead of his cross. Richarlison was next to make a determined push into the Arsenal area but the ball was not quite perfectly placed for Iwobi (Where was Calvert-Lewin?) and a brilliant chance evaporated.

Godfrey was fouled but the free-kick by Sigurdsson was wasted. Calvert-Lewin then found himself crossing the ball fro Richarlison, but lacking sufficient accuracy. At the other end, Everton's defence were being tested but holding firm, forcing Willian to fire wildly high and wide.

A foul on Calvert-Lewin saw a nicely worked effort by Sigurdsson scooped over the Arsenal defence to the advancing Michael Keane but the ball crucially evaded him. At the other end, Willcock got behind the Everton defence and put in a decent cross that sailed past Pickford and the far post.

Calvert-Lewin played in Richarlison but Maitland-Niles got his foot on it to give away a corner. Iwbi's shot deflected wide for a second corner from the opposite side, where Holgate got a talking to for blocking Leno. Coleman replaced Iwobi for the last 10 mins or so.

Arsenal attacked again and Willock headed weakly wide of the post. Everton tried to counter but the ball kept coming back at them. But a loose ball from midfield gave Everton a corner, and a respite from the late pressure, which they tried to walk into the Arsenal goal from the corner flag.

Godfrey tempted Willock int a rash tackle as Kenny replaced Richarlison, who got an extra helping hand to leave the pitch from fellow Brazilian, David Luiz. In a comedy moment, Calvert-Lewin got booked for not leaving the field fast enough, his replacement was Tosun.

Arsenal pressed hard again, forcing Everton to hang on amid screams from the Everton fans. A fantastic Arsenal cross beat everyone, then Pickford had to produce a brilliant low save, but still Arsenal kept coming until finally the whistle blew and Everton had won their third game in a row.

Scorers: Holding (og:25'), Mina (45'); Pepe (pen:35')

Everton: Pickford; Holgate, Keane, Mina, Godfrey; Iwobi (83' Coleman), Davies, Doucoure, Richarlison (90+2' Kenny); Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin [Y:90+3'] (90+3' Tosun).
Subs not Used: Olsen, Lössl, Nkounkou, Bernard, Gordon, Branthwaite.

Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Luiz, Tierney [Y], Maitland-Niles, Elneny [Y] (64' Willock [Y]), Ceballos, Saka, Pepe (71' Martinelli), Nketiah (76' Lacazette), Willian.
Subs not Used: Bellerin, Runarsson, Cedric, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Smith-Rowe.

Referee: Andre Marriner
VAR: Michael Oliver

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Improving Everton are back at Goodison Park in front of restricted attendance by fans for the visit of struggling Arsenal this weekend, hoping to press their top-four credentials with what would be their third successive win.

Carlo Ancelotti's side have registered impressive victories over Chelsea and Leicester City in the past week, keeping clean sheets in both matches and ensuring that they come into Saturday's match sitting in fifth place.

Ordinarily, a date with Arsenal would represent a daunting task for the Toffees but this time around Everton will be going up against the Gunners as slight +130 favourites, according to SportsBettingDime, as Mikel Arteta tries to get his arms around the job he took a almost year ago to the day.

Since then, the former Everton midfielder has guided Arsenal to an FA Cup triumph and won the Community Shield but the start to 2020-21 has not gone at all to plan. The North Londoners have won just four matches so far and just one of their last five, a sequence that has left them sitting in 15th place.

Arteta's cause hasn't been helped by red cards in each of Arsenal's last two games and it also means that both Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Magalhaes will be suspended for their trip to Merseyside. Gabriel Martinelli is unlikely to play despite coming through an Under-23s match as he works his way back from a knee complaint while marquee signing Thomas Partey is also set to miss out.

Everton have come through their own bad patch of results in impressive fashion as Ancelotti approaches his own anniversary in charge at Goodison and look to be on a much surer footing defensively despite the loss to injury of Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman. Ancelotti has bolstered the back four with Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey in the last two fixtures but could have the option of welcoming the club captain back from a hamstring injury this weekend.

Coleman has missed the last five games but has been back in training and might be passed fit by the club's medical staff. If so and his manager is ready to put him back in the side, Holgate is the man likely to make way despite scoring his first Premier League goal at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday.

Then there is James Rodriguez who is, perhaps, more doubtful for the Arsenal game. The Colombian had been training individually the past week after picking up a calf injury in the 1-1 draw at Burnley and might not be risked with the League Cup quarter-final looming next week.

Depending on where would be deployed, James's inclusion might require a tactical rethink in how the team plays, particularly in terms of their defensive posture and it would not be a surprise to see the former Real Madrid star eased back in if he is fit with a place on the substitutes' bench.

Ancelotti is expected to bring Jordan Pickford back into the team after he was rested against Leicester but the Italian will be forced into at least one other change after Allan injured his hamstring in midweek. The Brazilian's prognosis hasn't been revealed by the club — Ancelotti will, no doubt, face questions on that matter in his pre-match press conference — but he is expected to miss the rest of the 2020 programme. Richarlison should play despite injuring his arm on against the Foxes.

André Gomes was the man charged with replacing Allan against Leicester and the Portuguese could get the nod again this weekend, although Tom Davies is another option for Ancelotti to consider. And there is the possibility that other players could be rested as the manager eyes the busy run of games over the next few weeks, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin promised a breather at some point and the likes of Bernard and Anthony Gordon itching for more game time.

While they may be in poor form, Arsenal still possess plenty of quality in their ranks, not least Willian, Nicholas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who became the first Gunner to score from open play in almost 800 minutes of Premier League action when he equalised against Southampton on Wednesday. The Gabonese striker has also scored four times in as many seasons against Everton, including a brace at the Emirates last season.

So there will no room for complacency in the Blues' ranks in a game that calls for as much robustness and professionalism as they have shown in their last two games so that they go into the cup game and Christmas programme beyond on a real high.

Kick-off: 5:30pm, Saturday 19 December 2020 on Sky Sports
Referee: Andre Marriner
VAR: Michael Oliver
Last Time: Everton 0 - 0 Arsenal

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Godfrey, Doucouré, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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