Everton inflict more misery on Mikel Arteta and Arsenal

Everton 2-1 Arsenal: The Toffees moved second in the Premier League with a hard-fought three points as the Gunners lost an eighth league game of the season

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Saturday 19 December 2020 19:37
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Arsenal have never recovered from trailing at the break to win under Mikel Arteta’s charge in the Premier League, a trend which continued in defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.

A year ago, the same fixture was played out at the same ground in very different circumstances. Carlo Ancelotti was in the stands noting down some of the changes he’d have to introduce before taking control of the Merseysiders.

On Saturday, the pair were in the dugout left to reflect on what they’ve done over the past 12 months and the transformative work that remains to check off.

Ancelotti banked the victory and boasts a superior record over their first 34 top-flight games at the helm.

The Italian has overseen three more wins and nine more points, while also creating a greater balance between Everton’s steel and their offensive output.

They are looking upwards at the table, putting a bullseye on neighbours Liverpool, especially after triumphs over Chelsea and Leicester. Arsenal, meanwhile, will start to fret about being a battle with those below them.

The Gunners lined up at Goodison having won only one of the previous nine league matches and suffered a familiar start by falling behind on 22 minutes.

Tom Davies found Alex Iwobi on the right and his low cross took a deflection. It brushed the head of Dominic Calvert-Lewin before deflecting off Rob Holding and in to give the hosts an advantage.

Eddie Nketiah, who started as the focal point of Arsenal’s attack in the absence of the injured Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, spurned an opportunity to equalise instantly after super combination play from Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney.

The visitors would level matters via a Nicolas Pepe penalty after Davies had collided into Ainsley Maitland-Niles on his blind side.

Everton were superior in the opening 45, sharper in the duel and offering more threat in attack, which was deservedly rewarded.

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s stellar curled delivery flew at pace towards the near post, where Yerry Mina sprung highest to direct a header through Bernd Leno.

Arsenal conceding on the stroke of half time and Dani Ceballos being fortunate to escape scraping the Achilles of the goalscorer moments earlier snapshotted two of Arteta’s conundrums to crack: a lack of discipline and tactical nous from his charges.

They improved considerably in the second half, putting offensive pressure on Everton and reducing them to having no shots until late on, but no goal was forthcoming for a team struggling to make a decisive impact in the final third.

Arsenal weren’t altogether terrible, but neither could they cause the hosts much discomfort. While Ancelotti can highlight progress during his year in charge, Arteta will have his club’s mounting problems keeping him company over Christmas.

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