We observed three crucial things as Arsenal suffered a shock defeat to Everton last weekend. It was only their second loss in the Premier League this season, as Sean Dyche, the new Toffees boss, managed to beat the Premier League leaders 1-0 at Goodison Park.
Sean Dyche celebrated a crucial victory in his first match in charge of the Merseyside club. Meanwhile, the Gunners boss Mikel Arteta expressed dissatisfaction with his team’s offensive performance. The defeat also opened the door for the Manchester clubs to reduce the gap at the top.
Inside a fired-up Goodison Park, the hosts were full of intensity and their set-piece winner will have delighted Dyche. Everton could have taken the lead against Arsenal much earlier, with several good chances falling Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s way in the first half – although Conor Coady had to come up with a goal-line clearance to deny Bukayo Saka late in that half.
1. Arsenal Are Still In Control And Shouldn’t Panic Like Last Season
It was a comparatively easier test of Arsenal’s title credentials, having come through the Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United challenges last month, but surprisingly, this was a hurdle they couldn’t clear.
Everton were in their faces from the very first minute right until the last and in the end, it was the intensity that Arsenal could not match. Questions will now be asked of Mikel Arteta’s side and rightly so. However, this is no time to panic. Bookies around the world like Roulette77 are still favouring Arsenal as the likeliest team to secure the Premier League trophy come May.
Arsenal have lost just their second Premier League game of the season:
❌ 3-1 vs. Manchester United (4th September)
❌ 1-0 vs. Everton (4th February)
Exactly 5 months since their last Premier League defeat. pic.twitter.com/vRpLdInGzX
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 4, 2023
Before this game, their performances this season had allowed them the comfort of a 5-point gap at the top of the Premier League table. Nevertheless, the points gap between the top-2 remains at five points, courtesy of Manchester City’s defeat to Spurs.
How the Gunners respond to this setback will be crucial. That chance will come at home against Brentford next week, before Man City head to North London in a top-of-the-table clash. All potential champions have blips in what we know is a long season. It’s how a side responds to defeat that defines them and two home wins in their next two games will make this Everton nightmare a distant one.
2. Arsenal Lacked Purpose And Ability To Deal With The Opposition
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta stated that the Premier League leaders lacked “purpose and quality in the final third” during their 1-0 loss to Everton. The North London club had difficulty generating scoring opportunities and were unable to handle Dwight McNeil’s corner kick, leading to James Tarkowski’s second-half header winner.
After the game, Arteta told BT Sport (via Sports Mole):
“After conceding the goal, the game slowed down and we struggled. Their game plan of slowing down the pace and utilizing their physicality and height advantage is a strength of theirs. To effectively manage the game against them, you need to counteract that, which we failed to do today.”
3. A ‘Dyche’ Masterclass
After steering his new squad to a historic 1-0 triumph over the Gunners, Dyche maintained his composure in the post-game interview, describing the victory as merely “a starting point”. Despite a noticeable improvement in comparison to recent results, the former Burnley manager remained tight-lipped when asked about his winning strategy.
Physical in the style, Everton looked secure in their 4-5-1 structure and despite some scares on the counter, showed courage in possession to take the game to the Premier League leaders. Sean Dyche added, “Our approach is straightforward – prevent the opposing team from scoring and score ourselves.” It was the perfect start for the Toffees – a new manager, a new intensity and a renewed spirit from the Goodison Park crowd.
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Arsenal had the chance to increase their lead at the top of the table by eight points but instead suffered a narrow defeat. The victory enabled Everton to create a distance from the bottom two teams in the league. Despite this, Dyche’s team still has a significant challenge ahead of them.
The home support had already shown their passion for the club in their pre-match protests against the Everton board, but when the game got underway, that energy was channelled into the creation of a ferocious atmosphere inside the four old stands. The Everton players – just as they did at the end of last season – responded.
Arsenal will host Brentford in their next match while keeping a close eye on the City-Aston Villa game. Mikel Arteta will be looking for an immediate response from his side.
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