REPORT | Everton 1-0 Arsenal
Dyche’s Everton Arrives with a Statement 1-0 win against top of the league Arsenal at Goodison Park.
No doubt supporter anxiety heading into the match against Arsenal was at an all-time high following a frantic-end to the transfer window, for all of Everton’s relegation rivals. The toffees chose not to replace Anthony Gordon and despite a barrage of bids at the 11th hour, Everton closed the window as the only side in the Premier League’s bottom half who didn’t strengthen heading into the second half of the season.
Dyche’s starting eleven for the match looked to shake things up a little and give the team a fresh look heading into one of the toughest matches in the campaign so far. Abdoulaye Doucoure started his first match since August after being cast off by Lampard, playing in almost the position of a 10 as Dacha reverted the blues to a four at the back. Arguably his best position throughout his career, the manager hoped Doucoure could link the lines and provide some much needed fluidity in Everton’s transitions through the phases of play.
The home side’s 4-4-1-1 looked fluid and organized early on, with Goodison’s bear-pit atmosphere on display. It was clear that Dyche had drilled the run hard message into the players, with the 5 in midfield standing out early in the match. There was a heart in mouths moment for the toffees on the 30th minute as Saka showed good industry to get a cross into Eddie Nketiah, but the in-form striker inexplicably blazed his chance wide of the post.
The next 5 minutes saw two fantastic Everton chances, with Onana showing absolute class the first time around. The Belgian thundered down the pitch and put in a laser accurate cross into the box that just barely escaped the boot of DCL in front of goal. the second chance came through one of the standout performers in Dwight McNeil, who whipped in a wonderful cross to find a well-positioned Doucoure who could not direct his unmarked header on target.
The second half would see Everton muscle into the lead in the 60th minute, as former Burnley players McNeil and James Tarkowski linked up from a corner with Tarkowski slamming home with his head to send Goodison into raptures and put the hosts up 1-0.
Maupay would come on for Calvert-Lewin shortly after, and Everton would begin a long slog of holding a firm defensive shape. Arsenal came in waves and at times could have worried Everton, but some tactical time-wasting and some assured play from the midfield and backline saw Everton stand tall and secure a hard-earned three points. ‘
Relief. Excitement. Renewed Optimism. All things supporters are likely feeling following the win. Dyche’s men ran farther than they did all season, were more threatening in front of goal, and finally and most importantly won a game. Still in the relegation zone, there is certainly a long way to go for Everton, but the foundation has been laid and Dacha ball has brought some excitement back to Merseyside for now.