This season has been the one to banish old unwanted records for Everton. Earlier in the campaign they went to Liverpool and won at Anfield for the first time since 1999. This past weekend they beat Arsenal in London for the first time since 1996. Everton won 1-0 ultimately through an error by goalkeeper Bernd Leno but they will take it.
It’s been 25 years since Everton beat Arsenal away from home and we should take this into perspective. The last time Everton won Arsenal were not even playing at the Emirates Stadium. No Arsenal fan had heard of Arsene Wenger, he wouldn’t become manager until later in the year and the Gunners had Glenn Helder as a striker. For Everton, Duncan Ferguson was up front and he was on the side lines for this game as the clubs assistant now.
As for this match a quarter of a century on without the services up front of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette the Gunners were expected to struggle for goals and so that turned out. However Mikel Arteta’s team were asking all the questions, and were bullish and attack minded on the ball.
There was a certain amount of drive subtracted from Arsenal’s midfield as Martin Odegaard was deemed only fit enough to be on the bench after his return from injury. Odegaard is the new boy in town but has already proven his worth to the club and could be one of the greats for the Gunners over the next few seasons.
The teams only managed 1 shot on target each in the first half but in a sense you had to be disappointed if you are a fan of Everton. With some key players out it seemed to make little difference for Arsenal in the overall structure of the game and Everton looked fairly uninspired and that continued into the 2nd half. There was much hype over the return of their forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin but he did next to nothing, and indeed take out the first half of the campaign and there has to be question marks over him even if he has scored 14 goals so far this season. That consistency seems to have left the forward.
In the second half Arsenal thought they had a penalty when Richarlison conceded it, it looked fairly soft but the referee thought so too. But VAR had noticed an offside in the build up. Sure enough Nicolas Pepe’s shirt thread was offside and the penalty couldn’t be given. One does hope that this insane offside rule is abolished for the new season, not before, one suspects, that it causes havoc in the upcoming European Championships.
The game had changed and then Leno made his embarrassing error and Everton who offered a total of zero shots on target in the 2nd half went back home with the points and a very rare win away to the Gunners.
The victory for Everton means that there is a very small hope for a top four finish. They are on 52 points but have a game in hand, win that and they would only be 3 points behind 4th placed Chelsea. As for Arsenal all roads to a return to the Champions League have ended league wise and everything is now geared towards their Europa League semi-final which they will play this week against Villarreal.
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