17/09/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 1 Arsenal

Dominic Calvert-Lewin returned again off the bench wearing a protective mask but was unable to affect the game in what was a dire attacking display from Everton

Everton slumped to a third successive home defeat of the new season with a weak display against Arsenal that saw them barely test the Gunners before going down to a solitary second-half goal.

Against the backdrop of a subdued Goodison Park that was in stark contrast to the charged atmosphere that greeted Sean Dyche for his first match as the Toffees’ boss against the same opposition in February, Everton had Beto leading the line and Dominic Calvert-Lewin making his latest return from injury off the bench but they were depressingly lacking in invention and urgency.

In the end, Mikel Arteta’s side merely needed to bide their time before making the decisive breakthrough after Gabriel Martinelli’s 19th-minute strike had been ruled out of offside and Leandro Trossard provided the killer goal with 21 minutes of the 90 to go.

With Jack Harrison not quite fit enough to be included, Dyche selected Dwight McNeil in the line-up for the first time this season following his full recovery from an ankle injury, swapped Arnaut Danjuma and Ashley Young to the right side, recalled Vitalii Mykolenko and handed Beto his home debut.

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But in what was a far cry from the intensity with which Everton have started many games in recent months, the tone of the game was established early, with Arsenal dominating possession — sometimes to an embarrassing degree — and the hosts seemingly content to sit and try and get deep into the contest without conceding.

Fabio Vieira was allowed the time and space to shoot but his effort sailed over in the 10th minute but nine minutes later, Everton’s defence stood still hoping for an offside flag against Eddie Nketiah as Gabriel’s pass deflected forward off Beto. A check by Video Assistant Referee Stuart Attwell confirmed that the Gunners’ striker was marginally offside before Martinelli converted and the Blues were let off the hook.

Arsenal continued to carry all the attacking threat, though, and when Ben White was allowed to power to the byline, Declan Rice’s shot was blocked while the former would test Jordan Pickford with a drive later in the half.

In between, Everton had a brief flurry of attacking intent but William Saliba had seen Beto’s purposeful run out of play, Abdoulaye Doucouré had had a plea for a penalty waved away when he went down in the box and both Idrissa Gueye and McNeil had seen attempts at goal blocked.

If there was hope that Dyche might fire his charges up for a more effective second half, it was quickly extinguished as Arsenal resumed their control of the game after the interval and almost went ahead within two minutes when Martin Ødegaard stung Pickford’s palms before James Tarkowski did superbly to divert Nketiah’s shot wide with a last-ditch lunge.

Two shots from Oleksandr Zinchenko were also deflected behind shortly afterwards before Calvert-Lewin replaced Beto and was involved in what turned out to be the Blues’ best opportunity when the ball ricocheted to Danjuma but his half-volley dropped narrowly over the bar from the edge of the area.

Two minutes later, Everton were carved open by another short-corner and passing routine from the visitors that ended with the substitute Trossard placing a shot wide of Pickford from a cut-back from near the byline to finally break the deadlock.

Everton’s response was tepid. Mykolenko did really well to sprint onto Pickford’s long ball forward and get a shot away that was blocked by Saliba but Young again wasted the set-piece opportunity and Gueye later lashed a poor shot into the Gwladys Street End.

Instead, it was Arsenal who came closer to adding to the scoreline when an unfortunate bounce fell kindly to Gabriel Jesus but Pickford parried Ødegaard’s goal-bound shot away and Mykolenko got in an excellent block to keep Vieira’s shot out off the rebound.

Dyche threw James Garner, Nathan Patterson, and Youssef Chermiti on in the closing stages and the Scot did well to create a half-chance for Calvert-Lewin but the striker looked rusty on his return and prodded the ball into no-man’s-land.

This marked Everton’s sixth defeat in their last seven home games and extended their goalless sequence at Goodison Park this season to three matches, a miserable and hugely worrying statistic that ratchets up the pressure on the players and manager to start finding goals and points.

It was also the first time Arsenal had won at Goodison in six years but more sobering for Evertonians was just how easy the Blues made it and how ineffective their side was in trying to get anything from the contest.


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