Spain’s Mikel Arteta is starting to lap up Premiership football as he guides Arsenal to another victory with pundits already predicting him to be Spain’s next national manager after another fine victory this weekend.
Surely every real football fan would accept that luck does play its part within the beautiful game from time to time and after being given a free pass to report on any game of my choice last weekend I’m certain that the gods were smiling down on me as I choose this game compared to some of the others which were being played.
Before this game Arsenal were unbeaten in their last 23 home Premier League games against Everton (W19 D4) since a 2-1 home defeat in January 1996 at Highbury under Bruce Rioch. Plus with Everton having only lost just one of their last 11 Premier League gamees (W6 D4) it was easy to see why I was so intrigued by this game from the weekends calander. Also with the additional opportunity for both teams getting 5th place for Champions League football next season pending the outcome of Manchester Citys appeal against the UEFA ban then for me this game had all the hallmarks of a high scoring result.
Arsenal’s Spanish coach Mikel Arteta made six changes to the side that started Thursday’s Europa League win against Olympiacos. Hector Bellerin recovered from a groin injury to start at right back, while there were also recalls for Meset Ozil, Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe, Sead Kolasinac plus the shock decision to name youngster Eddie Nketiah ahead of Alexandre Lacazette in the front line even through Lacazette had scored two goals in his last two games for the Gunners. Meanwhile Everton under the Don of football managers (Carlo Ancelotti) made fiver alterations to the side that began their victory of Crystal Palace two weeks ago. Three changes were made in their defence as Leighton Baines skippered the side, along with Djibril Sidibe and Mason Holgate. There were also recalls for Fabian Delph and former Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi. However the most pleasing news for all football fans came on the Everton bench as Andre Gomes returned to their matchday squad just three months after suffering an horrific ankle injury.
Within the first 60 seconds of the kick off we already had the first goal scored as England hopeful Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted his 12th goal of the season as Arsenal failed to deal with Sigurdsson’s free kick and Calvert-Lewin was on hand to beat Leno with a terrific overhead kick.
Just 8 minutes later Iwobi was just whiskers away from scoring against his former club as the winger was picked out by Richarlison following a quickfire Everton attack but his effort was just wide of the top corner.
However an injury to Kolasinac in the 18th minute actually changed Arsenals luck to the determent of the defender. His replacement Bukayo Saka is one of Gunners’ hot prospects for the future and he didn’t let down the Arsenal faithful. On the 27th minute Saka supplied a wonderful cross for surprise starter Nketiah to volley home his first Premier League goal.
Arsenal then had their tails up and Everton had to ride of the storm however that wasn’t to be as just 6 minutes later Arsenal made it 2-1. Goal scoring machine Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spring the offside trap to latch onto a delightful through ball from Luiz. He then had the composure to bend his shot into the far corner and beyond the despairing dive of Pickford. That was Premier League goal number 16 of the season for Aubameyang and it was also his 31st goal he scored on a Sunday since his move from Dortmund at the beginning of 2018.
With an additional 5 minutes added at the end of the first half the hearts of the Emirates faithful must have sunk as Everton levelled it due to Arsenal failing to deal with a corner only for Richarlison to then latch onto Minas flick-on and Leno then unable to prevent his prodded effort from crossing the line.
Half time arrived and having visited many a concourse over the years I can imagine that supporters of both sides would have been worried that they wouldn’t see another goal as already witnessing 4 during the first 45 minutes. However those fears were quickly put to bed as after just 23 seconds from the retake it was that man Aubameyang who scored again as his deflected header from Pepe’s cross beat goalkeeper Pickford.
During the next 10/15 minutes Everton appeared to look demoralised as you’d have to go back to December 2013 for the last time they beat one of the Premier League’s big six on the road which came courtesy of a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. This lead to the experienced Ancelotti to make a double substitution with a Bernard replacing Iwobi plus the welcome sight of Gomes returning to the pitch by replacing Schneiderlin.
On the 72nd minute Leno came to Arsenal’s rescue with some terrific reflexes by denying Calvert-Lewin from point blank range, after Richarlison’s knockdown fell invitingly for Everton’s number nine. Just 6 minutes later Leno was the hero again as Delph’s drilled effort ricocheted kindly into the path of Richarlison. However, the Arsenal goalkeeper was quickly out of his goal to close the angle and denying the Brazilian.
The final real action of the game happened in the 86th minute when Arsenal quickly intercepted a dangerous short pass to Sigiurdsson from Everton keeper Pickford, with the ball breaking to the youngster Nketiah it was only the woodwork which stopped him scoring his second of the game.
All in all it was an enjoyable game for many reasons but the reality is that Arsenal had just as much luck to come away with all 3 points as I had for selecting this game to report on. Both teams have massive flaws in their squads hence their respected league positions but I’m sure that supporters of both clubs will expect massive overhauls during the summer.
MATCH REPORT CREDIT ADAM BROWN FROM ” FOOTBALL WITH BROWNIE”