Everton (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 0
Goodison Park, Goodison Road, Liverpool L4 4EL
Saturday, 4th February 2023. Kick-off time: 12.30pm
(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Jakub Kiwior, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Leandro Trossard, (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho) Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Matt Turner, Amario Cozier-Duberry.
Yellow Cards: Oleksandr Zinchenko
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 70%
Referee: David Coote
Assistant Referees: Lee Betts, Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Andy Madley
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR John Brooks; AVAR Darren Cann
After our disappointing FA Cup match last week, it is good to be back to our bread-and-butter Premiership games again. Today we are at Goodison Park, which in recent years have been quite a tough place for us to ply our trade, despite Everton’s lowly Premiership position of late. Our new signing, Jorginho, is on the substitute’s bench today along with our other new boys Jakub Kiwior and Leandro Trossard. It should be quite a competitive match here in Liverpool this afternoon against the Toffees.
Both teams were fiercly competitive right from the kick-off; indeed it was Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko who committed the first foul of the day on our captain Martin Ødegaard within a couple of minutes of the start. Arsenal looked very good at this point in the match, stroking the ball around, finding their players well, with not too much interference from the home team. Gabriel Martinelli was briefly found in space on the left wing but after he knocked the ball back to Oleksandr Zinchenko, the resulting shot went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. There was a great chance for us to open the scoring when Bukayo Saka set up Thomas Partey, but he did not catch his shot properly and Jordan Pickford saved easily. Bukayo Saka got a free-kick for an accidental sharp poke to the eye from Idrissa Gueye, and after some treatment, he continued playing. However, the home side woke up and started to put us under pressure when a corner found the head of Amadou Onana but fortunately Ben White was on hand to clear the danger; the consecutive corner found James Tarkowski but his header was deflected behind for a third corner, which went nowhere, thankfully. This trio of corners saw Everton press us back into our own half, but Aaron Ramsdale was on hand when needed, to stop any chance of a goal. Just before the half hour mark, there was some great movement on our part, and eventually the ball found Eddie Nketiah, who blasted the ball up and wide with only Jordan Pickford to beat. We have to start getting a grip on this match, as the home side are exploing gaps in our midfield and on the wings, and although we play well when we possess the ball, it is when we lose it and our inability to get it back is the problem today. Five minutes before the break, Bukayo Saka met a cross from the left wing with a volley that sent the ball running to the far corner of the goal. Somehow Conor Coady was on hand to poke the ball away, and in injury time we were fortunate not to concede a goal when a Seamus Coleman cross found Dominic Calvert-Lewin whose spirited header went wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s goal. We really have to impose ourselves more on this game in the second half.
Everton started the second half proceedings in this cauldron of noise, and again the home side came straight out of the blocks at us, with Idrissa Gueye hitting a shot from the edge of the penalty area and it took a wicked deflection; Aaron Ramsdale was initially wrong-footed but readjusted himself to dive the right way and palm the ball away for an Everton corner. Wake up, chaps. Granit Xhaka was set up for a shot on the edge of the penalty area but he was met by three Everton players, who successfully blocked his shot. We started to pass the ball around, but the home side were getting their defenders in the way to stop us progressing further, which is a concern. An Everton cross to the back post was met by Oleksandr Zinchenko, who coolly chested the ball back to Aaron Ramsdale, and a few minutes later, Eddie Nketiah ran down the left wing, crossed it to Martin Ødegaard, who whacked the ball high into the stands. Just before the hour mark, Mikel Arteta made a double substitution when the new boys Jorginho and Martin Trosssard replaced Gabriel Martinelli and Thomas Partey, but then disaster struck, when James Tarkowski headed the home side ahead from close range that gave Aaron Ramsdale no chance to save his effort at all. We had a penalty appeal turned down when Gabriel was sent tumbling just inside the penalty area by a shove from Neal Maupay before he clumsily fell into Idrissa Gueye. There were some fierce tackling taking place this afternoon, none more so than by Amadou Onana, who was rightly booked for an extremely late lunge on Ben White. After a messy exchange in the Arsenal six-yard box following an Everton corner, Fabio Vieira replaced an ineffective Martin Ødegaard, and we broke out quickly deep into the Everton half. Leandro Trossard hit a superb shot from the left wing which was parried by a diving Jordan Pickford, and although we do have our moments, we do not appear to have enough in the tank to grab a vital goal, and with the home side sitting deeper and deeper as the game ebbs away, it is going to become more difficult to do anything about it. Ben White was replaced by Takehiro Tomiyasu with six minutes of the match remaining, and as hard as we are trying to score, it does not appear to be our day. In the first minute of injury time, Oleksandr Zinchenko received a ball on the edge of the penalty courtesy of a Fabio Vieira corner, but his left-footed shot went just over the bar. There was an unsavoury incident between Oleksandr Zinchenko and Neal Maupay, which resulted in both players receiving yellow cards after a minor fracas involving quite a few players from both sides; it mattered not, as referee David Coote blew the whistle to bring the game to a close a minute or two later.
We may well have had seventy per cent posession, but it just was not our day on Merseyside this afternoon. Make not mistake about it, we were poor overall at Goodison Park, and although this was only our second defeat in the Premiership this season, at this stage it is one that we could well do without, especially as Manchester City are playing Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow afternoon. Anyone can (and will) lose a match, but it will be more important to see how we bounce back from this against Brentford next Saturday, and the following Wednesday against Manchester City. It’s going to be a bumpy ride from now until the end of the season.
MATCH REPORTRemember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Brentford at the Emirates on Saturday, 11th February at 3.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon