Everton vs Arsenal result: Five things we learned as Yerry Mina sends Toffees second

Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Yerry Mina nodded the winner with all three goals in the first half.

Karl Matchett
Saturday 19 December 2020 19:29
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Allan takes part in Q&A with Brazilian Everton fans

Everton beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Premier League to move up to second in the table on Saturday.

Michael Keane went close from range, before Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed down onto Rob Holding, with the defender unwittingly putting through his own net.

A late Tom Davies tackle on Ainsley Maitland-Niles gave the Gunners a route back into the game, though, with Nicolas Pepe tucking away the penalty, only for Yerry Mina to nod the Toffees back in front on the stroke of half-time.

READ MORE: Premier League fixtures and table - all matches by date and kick-off time

Both teams enjoyed spells on top in an open second half, where mistakes and missed chances were the most often repeated moments of play and the Gunners failed to really threaten an equaliser until the final seconds of the game, far too late to nick a point.

Here are five things we learned from the match at Goodison Park.

1. What has Willian become?

With no Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the team, Willian was shifted to the left side for Arsenal - but had no tangible impact on the game.

On the one hand, a few statistics stood out: 70 minutes into the game he had had more touches than any other attacker on the pitch and a 100 per cent pass success rate.

Sadly, the visual evidence suggested most of what the Brazilian offered was to keep possession with a safe and backward-looking approach, rather than being scheming and inventive with his vision - and the other statistics backed that up.

No shots. No key passes. No take-ons. No successful crosses. No free-kicks won. No tackles won, high upfield or otherwise.

He simply floated through the game, offering little as an outlet and nothing as a fulcrum for build-up play, a huge contrast to both what he’s capable of and what he did last season for Chelsea - let alone in contrast to what his salary suggests he should provide.

It was a surprise when he wasn’t the one taken off when Gabriel Martinelli came on, and in the remaining 20 minutes he merely added one extremely wild, wayward shot from range and very little else.

2. Gunners’ form

Heading into the match, the only Premier League team more out-of-form than the Gunners was bottom club Sheffield United.

Over the last six in the league, Mikel Arteta’s team had managed just two points and two goals, with their place in the table plummetting accordingly.

The evidence on show at Goodison Park indicated very little is set to change.

So much build-up play was directionless, the lack of incisive running and passing was a continuing theme from recent matches and yet again their only route to goal came from the penalty spot or other set-pieces.

There remains an awful lot to do for Arteta.

3. Goalkeeper questions

Both No. 1s have come in for question marks and scrutiny at times over the last season or two and it’s not hard to see why: they both lack authority and consistency in their game.

Indeed, the most regular part of their twin games is probably the fact that teams know they can identify them as potential weak spots, particularly with high balls into the box and crowding them out on set plays.

Jordan Pickford remains England’s No. 1, but only for lack of a serious challenger.

Bernd Leno won the battle to stay Arsenal’s first pick, but seemingly by virtue of being better with his feet than Emi Martinez - as he certainly isn’t with his hands.

Attack is the best form of defence for some teams and that’s certainly the case when playing either Everton or Arsenal.

4. So who were the positives?

It would be remiss to suggest nobody had a good game, even for the beaten Arsenal side.

Everton’s big performers included out-of-position Ben Godfrey, who has recently filled in in style at left-back and was solid, dependable and impressive at the back again - but also proactive and surprisingly agile getting forward down the wing.

For the Gunners, Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were the clear stand-outs, the pair with the most drive and on-the-ball talent who continually opted for the braver options to try and make something happen.

And, importantly for the Toffees, they got Seamus Coleman back after injury. He only had a short run-out off the bench, but that’s a vital return for the team over the festive period.

5. Dreaming of Europe?

While Arsenal sink without a trace, Everton fans are dreaming of Europe.

Only twice in this decade have the Toffees strutted their stuff in Continental competition - and both of those were extremely brief jaunts - but this three points sends them up to second in the Premier League table, behind only neighbours and reigning champions Liverpool.

Given Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham’s form and squad depth, continuing to have a top-four run will be extremely difficult of course, but should they finish in the top six it would still be an enormous improvement and relative success.

With the inconsistency shown elsewhere this season and the shocks we’ll no doubt see as the campaign goes on, it’s an eminently achievable objective to aim for. Carlo Ancelotti begins to work his magic once more.

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League. Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri - Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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