Everton show some industry and a good defensive shape, but a meager showing in attack sees Everton stay winless through 5 league matches in front of an apathetic Goodison Park.
Everton were back at Goodison Park following the conclusion of the international break to host the runners up from last campaign in Arsenal. Sean Dyche went with an attack of Beto, Danjuma and McNeil up top, with the regular midfield trio of Onana, Doucoure and Idrissa Gueye. Vitaly Mykolenko was reintroduced to the Everton backline along with regulars Jarrad Branthwaite, James Tarkowski and Ashley Young.
Everton started the match conservatively, with a firm defensive shape and an aim to limit the chances of the ever-potent visitors. Arsenal nearly scored in the 10th minute as Fabio Vieira got on the end of a short corner routine, but he ultimately got his effort wrong shooting well wide. Nine minutes later it looked like the pressure had finally paid off for the visitors, as Vieira played a thorough-ball into Gabriel Martinelli who made no mistake in finishing past Jordan Pickford. However, Everton’s blushes were saved by VAR which ultimately ruled out the goal for offside.
Everton began to grow in confidence a bit going forward, and in the 32nd minute showed the first sign of an attacking threat. The hosts broke down the middle of the park before the ball eventually found its way to Idrissa Gueye, whose shot was comfortably saved by Raya in goal. Right on the stroke of halftime, Dwight McNeil got on the end of a cross from Idrissa Gueye and looked to volley towards goal, but his effort was cut out by William Saliba. Despite the couple odd chances Everton looked to muster up in the final 15 minutes, Dyche and company went into halftime assuredly happy to be level at 0-0.
The first 20 minutes saw Arsenal once again pushing on the front foot as the hosts looked to fend off wave after wave of attack. There would ultimately be a change for Everton in the 66th minute as Dominic Calvert-Lewin was introduced for a likely frustrated Beto, who was disconnected and ultimately uninvolved in his start up top. Unfortunately, DCL’s introduction would be followed by a well work goal from Arsenal following a corner routine. Trossard would find himself on the end of a ball from Sara and whipped a fizzing strike with the outside of his boot that cracked off the post and in, leaving Pickford helpless in goal.
Unfortunately following the goal Everton was unable to find enough threat to really trouble Arsenal, who cruised to what in the end amounted to a rather comfortable 0-1 win at Goodison. Dyche’s gameplay was evident, setting up a strong shape and looking to frustrate the visitors. Mykolenko had one of his better games in an Everton shirt, and Branthwaite continues to look like the young phenom he was touted to be. The attack, on the other hand, looked disjointed at best and sorely lacking ideas. Beto received little service up top, and the midfield was thoroughly outclassed for large portions of the match as they struggled to keep possession and push the play forward.
The blues ultimately put out a lousy 67% completion rate on passes, and a generous expected goal total of .34. It was always going to be a tough test, but it felt all the same a bit apathy filled on Sunday afternoon at Goodison. Supporters were largely silent with little to cheer about, and the industry shown by the backline and by DCL and James Garner in brief cameos were not enough to turn the tide. Worry will continue to grow for Everton, and the road ahead does not get much easier as the blues are on the road for a tough fixture at Brentford on Saturday.