Phil Jagielka’s first goal since April 2017 sealed an important Everton win over Champions League chasing Arsenal, compounding the Gunners’ poor away form.
The 36-year-old became the oldest goalscorer in England’s top-flight this season and two years after his last strike, Everton battled hard for a valuable three points against an unpredictable Arsenal side.
Lucas Digne’s launching throw-in caused all sorts of indecision in the box, where the ball was inadvertently flicked onto Sead Kolasinac. It bounced fortuitously for Jagielka to tap in from five yards out after 10 minutes, during a game he didn’t even expect to be starting – first-choice Michael Keane pulled out in the warm-up with a reported illness.
Arsenal’s penalty appeal denied, Calvert-Lewin a nuisance
Just minutes before, Alexandre Lacazette had a penalty appeal waved away by officials after Kurt Zouma scythed him down – although replays showed the on-loan Chelsea defender didn’t actually win the ball.
Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi had their work cut out against a motivated Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the line for the hosts, with the 22-year-old’s pace and power proving a nuisance on the counter-attack.
Sokratis was penalised for a necessary but equally cynical tug on Calvert-Lewin, meaning the Greece international will miss their next two league games against Watford and Crystal Palace after picking up his 10th booking of the campaign.
With Goodison buoyed by their purposeful start, Everton continued in encouraging fashion. Bernard, Andre Gomes and Richarlison were all threatening in-and-around the final third – though the latter’s decision-making was too lax upon occasion and if quicker, could’ve easily created a goal or two more before the interval.
Arsenal players were regularly complaining to referee Kevin Friend and his officials, either for a lack of fouls being called or soft decisions against them.
Frustrated and left stifled on both sides of the pitch, Unai Emery was aware they needed to make changes – prompting a double substitution to start the second-half. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey were introduced for Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac, as the visitors went in search of an immediate response.
Despite promising start, Everton back on top
They almost had it too, after Aubameyang’s speculative cross was partially cleared by Jordan Pickford – only for Ramsey to flick an effort over the crossbar. The Gunners’ mini revival only lasted ten minutes though, as Everton continued in their attempts to double the lead.
Richarlison and Seamus Coleman combined well down the right-hand side, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard both came close – though Bernd Leno was equal to their respective efforts.
Mesut Ozil was visibly unhappy at being replaced with 15 minutes to go – Alex Iwobi coming on to add fresh legs and additional creative impetus after an averaging showing by the German. Theo Walcott made another cameo against his former side and should’ve had an assist, but for an important Leno stop to thwart Bernard.
It ultimately finished 1-0, with Arsenal losing crucial ground in the Champions League qualification race – they currently sit fourth, level on points with Chelsea (5th) and a point above sixth placed Manchester United.