Everton ended their 25-year wait for a win at Arsenal and moved to within three points of the Premier League’s top four after Bernd Leno’s own goal secured a 1-0 victory amid supporter protest at the Emirates Stadium on Friday Night Football.
Richarlison’s cross flashed through the Arsenal goalkeeper’s legs with 14 minutes remaining as a tumultuous week at Arsenal – which began with the club’s intention to join a European Super League – ended in a home defeat.
The hosts thought they had been awarded a second-half penalty when Dani Ceballos was fouled by Richarlison, but Nicolas Pepe was deemed offside in the build-up upon VAR review.
Everton remain in eighth position but move to within a point of sixth-placed Tottenham and are now six points clear of Arsenal in ninth.
Arsenal: Leno (5), Chambers (7), Holding (7), Pablo Mari (6), Xhaka (5), Thomas (6), Ceballos (6), Pepe (6), Smith-Rowe (7), Saka (7), Nketiah (5).
Subs: Odegaard (6), Willian (n/a), Martinelli (6).
Everton: Pickford (7), Coleman (7), Godfrey (7), Holgate (6), Digne (7), Rodriguez (7), Allan (7), Andre Gomes (6), Richarlison (7), Calvert-Lewin (7), Sigurdsson (7).
Subs: Delph (5), Mina (n/a), Davies (n/a).
Man of the match: Richarlison.
How Everton added to unrest at Arsenal
Alan Smith labelled Arsenal’s owners as “ignorant” on Sky Sports earlier this week over their involvement in the European Super League, for taking an initial decision that was indicative of Stan Kroenke’s distant handling of the club, and Friday’s contest was played out throughout the constant backdrop of disgruntled home supporters heard letting off fireworks outside the ground.
It was clear from Mikel Arteta’s team selection against Fulham last weekend where his priorities lie when it comes to securing a Champions League berth for next season. By some distance, that now resembles winning the Europa League, but the hosts came out the traps fast as Ben Godfrey was well placed to flick Calum Chambers’ cross off the head of Eddie Nketiah inside the opening two minutes.
The only other league game Arsenal have started with neither Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nor Alexandre Lacazette in their side was at Goodison Park in December, when Nketiah started up front with Nicolas Pepe in support, and the young England striker made his presence known on the quarter-hour mark when challenging Godfrey from another Chambers centre, with the loose ball falling to Bukayo Saka, but his shot was straight at Jordan Pickford.
- Arsenal made six changes. The Gunners drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Fulham last Sunday and boss Mikel Arteta responded with alterations as Bernd Leno returned in goal with Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari recalled in defence. Thomas Partey came back in while Nicolas Pepe started and Eddie Nketiah led the line having equalised in stoppage time after coming off the bench last time out.
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin returned to the starting line-up as one of three changes for the Toffees, captain Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes came in from the 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
It took nearly half an hour for the visitors to carve open their first chance as Allan spotting the run of Richarlison, and nimble footwork from the Brazilian drew a fine save low down from Leno, with the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin not far from nodding in the rebound.
Arsenal sat 15th in the table, 12 points behind their opponents, when they lost at Everton before Christmas, but a win would have taken them level on points. Arteta’s side were fortunate not to fall behind, however, when Gylfi Sigurdsson grazed the crossbar with a sublime free-kick from 25 yards out six minutes before the break.
Both sides mustered just two shots on target between them by the start of the second half – one apiece – underlining the recent focus both Ancelotti and Arteta have placed on greater defensive solidity, but the visitors showed their attacking intent minutes into the restart.
James Rodriguez combined well with Seamus Coleman down the right and – despite a hint of offside – the Everton captain’s low cross was met by Sigurdsson but his swept shot deflected just wide of Leno’s left-hand post.
Arsenal were determined to end a turbulent week on a high, and they were soon awarded the chance to score from the spot when Richarlison caught Dani Ceballos inside the box. Smith said on commentary duty for Sky Sports: “It’s one of those careless flicks of the boot from Richarlison. There’s the slightest touch on the shin pad that convinces Ceballos to go down. He certainly catches him, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt.”
But Everton would get a reprieve from Stockley Park as VAR deemed Pepe was fractionally offside in the build-up. The incident visibly enlivened both sides, and it was Everton’s turn to feel a sense of injustice when Richarlison’s appeals for a penalty for a perceived handball by Pablo Mari were ignored.
Mason Holgate took his aggression a step too far when wiping out Pepe on the byline, and from Saka’s ensuing set-piece, Chambers hammered his volley into the ground and wide of Pickford’s goal.
Arsenal looked to turn the screw as Ceballos brought a fine save from the outstretched Pickford, but Everton were gifted the lead inside the final 15 minutes when Richarlison easily escaped Granit Xhaka down the right. He looked up and sought to find Calvert-Lewin with his cross but the ball ricocheted through the legs of the hapless Leno and trickled over the line. There was a slight delay on the restart as VAR checked for an offside, but the on-field decision stood.
After Nketiah dramatically snatched a point in the 97th minute last weekend against Fulham, there would be no such saviour this time as substitute Gabriel Martinelli’s poke shot in stoppage time was again kept out by the inspired Pickford as Everton ended their long wait for a win at the Emirates.
What the managers said
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “We were the better team but there are certain decisions that we can’t control. To disallow a penalty 15 seconds before – [we had] eight or nine touches [after Nicolas Pepe was offside] – I saw it 10 times and I don’t get it. It can be taken the way they want. Zero control. Somebody has to explain that.
“We were the better team. We lacked some clear-cut chances and the edge in the final third. They are very well organised but we conceded the goal in the wrong moment and when we had the penalty but it wasn’t given.”
On Bernd Leno’s own goal: “It’s an own goal and we know we have to do better.”
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti: “It’s a good result, and an important one. We are still attached to the top of the table. We needed that. We keep fighting, we played a good game with difficulties.
“Defensively we were good, I am satisfied. To be honest it should have been a draw, Arsenal had more control of the ball. We were not clinical in possession. We deserved to win our last few games which were draws so we have those points back.
“Jordan Pickford did really well with a good save at the end, he was comfortable, good with the ball. After five games without a win it was an important victory. The race will be decided on the last game.”
‘Lack of concentration cost Leno’
Kevin Campbell told Sky Sports:
“On the balance of play, I think Everton did [deserve to win]. Arsenal had all the possession, did nothing with it, but Everton looked to be a little bit more of a threat.
“But it was always going to take something extraordinary to win the game and that [the own goal] summed up Arsenal’s week.
“You’ve got to question the goalkeeper. I think he’s a good goalkeeper but I don’t think he’s top class. If you’ve got a top class ‘keeper, that doesn’t go in your goal. I think it is a lack of concentration, but the top ‘keepers don’t concede goals like that and it isn’t the first one.”
Man of the match – Richarlison
❌ Arsenal have failed to score in 8 of 17 league games at Emirates Stadium this season. Only West Brom (9) & Fulham (10) have failed to score in more home PL games in 2020-21 #ARSEVE pic.twitter.com/tAHPwZimon
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 23, 2021
The Brazilian worked tirelessly for his team, involved in 17 duels – more than any other Everton player. It could well have led to the concession of a penalty were in not for VAR, but his role in deciding a tight contest keeps Everton’s quest for European qualification on track.
Holgate: ‘It was the best goal I’ve seen…’
Everton defender Mason Holgate told Sky Sports:
“It’s brilliant. In the last few weeks we’ve been hit and miss so to dig deep and get the win is massive. Arsenal want the same thing as we do so to take the points from them is massive. We’ve got to be consistent now.
“It’s the best looking goal I’ve seen… It wasn’t the prettiest but a huge win. We have turned up in big games all season but the games we should be winning we haven’t. It’s down to us.”
No home comforts for Gunners – Opta stats
- Arsenal suffered their first Premier League defeat at home to Everton since January 1996 (1-2), ending a run of 24 games without losing to them at home in the competition.
- Everton completed their first league double over Arsenal since the 1985-86 season, having won 2-1 at Goodison Park back in December.
- The Gunners have lost seven games at the Emirates in the Premier League this season; their most home defeats in a league campaign since 1992-93 (also seven).
- Only Manchester City (12) have won more away games than Everton (10) in the Premier League this season, while this is the first time since 1986-87 that the Toffees have won 10 away games in a single league campaign.
- This was the 200th top-flight meeting between Arsenal and Everton, becoming just the third fixture in top-flight history to have been played on 200 occasions (also Aston Villa v Everton and Liverpool v Everton, both 204).
Arsenal return to Europa League action next Thursday as they travel to face Villarreal in the semi-final first leg at 8pm before visiting Newcastle in the Premier League on May 2, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.
Everton host Aston Villa at Goodison Park in the Premier League next Saturday at 8pm.