Everton 0-1 Arsenal: Leandro Trossard nets winner for Mikel Arteta’s side as dogged Toffees remain in the bottom three

Arsenal’s ambition is to win the Premier League and we haven’t said that for a while. Everton are the kind of team who are wildly cheered when they win a corner, and we’ve been saying that for far too long.

What we got at Goodison Park was a clash of style, ambition and need. Arsenal wanted all three points. For Everton you would have doubled the season figures. All this made for a poor, anticlimactic game that barely had anything going for it, apart from the fact that it wasn’t the worst top game of the afternoon.

In any case, some quality won. Leanardo Trossard – another high school graduate – has found himself on the outside of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team so far this season, only on the pitch due to an injury to Gabriel Martinelli in the first half.

But with 21 minutes to go it was a beautiful goal, and it was a goal that Arsenal desperately needed. Arteta’s team have not been at their best so far this season and that is indeed dangerous when trying to keep in touch with a Manchester City team that wins virtually every game it plays. This was a goal that was as important as it was well taken.

Short turns were never a thing at Arsenal. These days they are very common and if they work as well as those of Arteta’s players here, it is easy to see why.

Leandro Trossard scored the winner for Arsenal as they beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park

A succession of passes took Everton’s players out of position and out of the penalty area, and when Martin Odegaard played Bukayo Saka to the byline, his cut-back was passed sideways by Trossard’s left foot over Jordan Pickford. The first time taken the shot had a cut and initially looked like it was going to swing over the far post and wide. Instead, the ball caught enough off the upright to bounce back into the goal and Arsenal had a lead they never seemed to relinquish.

With Arsenal’s own goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale replaced by David Raya for this, it would have been interesting to see if the move was justified. As it was, Raya barely had anything to do. Everton have been virtually anonymous as an attacking force and it is clear that this is going to be their problem as this season progresses.

Sean Dyche’s side scored twice in the draw against Sheffield United just before the international break, but they are the only goals on the Everton ledger after five league games. That’s something that will have to change if Everton are to make a push in the right direction in the table and if Dyche is to survive, which could be yet another change of ownership at the club.

Arsenal’s record at Goodison Park is alarmingly poor, but here at least they have tried to force the issue from the start. Indeed, much of the first half hour of football was played in the Everton half.

The home team’s tactics when they did not have the ball were recognizable. Stay in shape and work hard. For the most part it worked. Opportunities for Arsenal were few and far between in the opening period. However, when Dyche’s team did have the ball in their hands, things were even messier. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford seemed reluctant to play the ball. Instead, there were some awkward moments for Everton as they passed the ball around in their own penalty area before succumbing to the inevitable and clearing the pitch, only with less sense of composure or purpose than their goalkeeper might have shown.

Nevertheless, Everton stayed in the game and that was the most important thing for a team without a league win this season.

Arsenal – without the fallen Kai Havertz – was not at its best. They stuck to their principles and looked for working angles on the edge of Everton’s penalty area, but the home defense was stoic and industrious with most routes to goal closed by those in blue.

Arsenal only had the ball in the net in the 20th minute when VAR officials called it offside. It was close, Eddie Nketiah came from deep and laid the ball down to Fabio Vieira, who then passed Martinelli through to score. The VAR lines showed the decision was desperately tight, but this time – unlike when Manchester United conceded a goal at the Emirates a fortnight earlier – Arsenal were not given the benefit of significant doubt.

It had been a smart and sharp display from Arsenal, probably their best of the first half. They might also have claimed that the ball had reached Nketiah via an Everton player. That would have sidelined him. But it was clearly ruled that Neto’s intervention was not intentional. Confused? Well, you’re probably not alone.

Shortly afterwards, Martinelli left the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and as such, Arsenal’s task became a little more difficult. There were then a couple of half-chances in the half when Declan Rice had a shot blocked and another from Ben White was held high by Everton goalkeeper Pickford.

Everton itself only managed to get a shot on target after all this. A strong run forward from Abdoulaye Doucoure ended with him in the Arsenal penalty area just after the half hour. He wasn’t touched, as it happened. But as the ball was recycled, another midfielder in the form of Idriss Gueye did manage to deliver a shot from distance that Raya saved comfortably on his right.

Everton’s performance was also limited in the second half. More fun for the home team, just like Arsenal’s chances. One accurate pass from Aleksandr Zinchenko to substitute Leonardo TRossard opened Everton, but the Belgian – who ran through to cross low – was ruled offside. Zinchenko then drove towards goal and appealed for a handball against James Tarkowski, even though the Everton defender’s arm was held close to his body. It didn’t even go to the VAR.

In fact, Arsenal didn’t look like scoring. But with 21 minutes to go, they did so anyway.

A short corner from the right was worked through Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard and then Bukayo Saka and as the England winger pulled the ball back, Trossard kicked the ball with great skill over Pickford and to the far corner of the post.

In a bad game, this was a lead that Arsenal deserved as much for intent and territory as anything else. Everton simply hadn’t offered enough and although Arnaud Danjuma had smashed the ball over from 18 yards just in front of the Arsenal goal, they now had a real mountain to climb.

Naturally, with increased need came increased risk. And when Everton were caught with numbers ahead in the 77th minute, Arsenal broke. Odegaard may have gone left to Saka, but went alone. Pickford saved that one, but might not have had a prayer with Vieira’s follow-up if Vitalii Mykolenko hadn’t intervened with an excellent block.

In the last ten minutes Everton offered very little. At least they were still in the game. They failed to create a chance, however, and although the home fans seemed upset at referee Simon Hooper’s decision to extend the game for just four more minutes, the protests seemed rather pointless. An equalizer was hardly forthcoming.


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