Mikel Arteta said Arsenal “are in a big fight” and the players “hurt right now” after suffering their eighth Premier League defeat of the season against Everton at Goodison Park.
Everton ensured manager Carlo Ancelotti celebrated the first anniversary of his appointment by moving into second place in the table, while increasing Arteta’s woes.
“We need to generate more to win football matches,” said Arteta. “When it comes to small details, the other team wants it more. The boys are absolutely still fighting.
“The way the boys reacted in the dressing room tells me they have the belief. When you lose lots of games for different reasons it hurts a lot.
“We have to be better, it wasn’t about Everton it was about us.”
Ancelotti’s side have now beaten Chelsea, Leicester City and Arsenal in the space of seven days and while there were some anxious moments in the second half, this was a deserved win.
They took the lead after 22 minutes when Rob Holding deflected Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick past Bernd Leno, but Arsenal were level 10 minutes before the break when Nicolas Pepe scored from the spot after Tom Davies fouled Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The Gunners barely deserved to be level and Everton were ahead again on the stroke of half-time when Yerry Mina headed in at the near post from a corner.
Arsenal improved after the break, David Luiz seeing a shot deflected on to the post, but Everton also had opportunities and this loss leaves Arteta’s struggling side 15th as he has no cause to celebrate his own first anniversary in a few days’ time.
Ancelotti takes the acclaim
It was almost a year ago to the day since Ancelotti few into Merseyside from Italy to confirm his appointment at Everton before sitting and watching a thoroughly shocking goalless draw with Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Arteta, the newly appointed manager of Arsenal, sat a few seats away to watch his own new team and supposedly usher in a new era of optimism.
Ancelotti can survey the Premier League table with greater satisfaction than Arteta after a superb week in what was earmarked as a crucial month and Everton’s manager took huge acclaim from supporters gathered in the Gwladys Street after the final whistle.
Everton had to dig deep here but they did and merited their win despite surviving some close shaves near the end.
Calvert-Lewin delivered another magnificent display but it was two of Ancelotti’s signings that really caught the eye, namely Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ben Godfrey.
Doucoure was outstanding but it was 22-year-old Godfrey, the England under-21 defender signed for £25m from Norwich City, who was arguably the game’s outstanding player.
Godfrey is playing in an unfamiliar left-back role but gave a superb performance, thunderous in the tackle and showing an astonishing turn of speed to lead a second half counter-attack.
Everton have now had an outstanding week with three wins after a sticky spell following their bright start.
Arsenal slip deeper into trouble
Arsenal looked exactly what they are for most of this match – a team struggling desperately near the bottom of the Premier League table.
The Gunners, admittedly without main striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, should have been beaten by half-time as Everton dominated and Arteta’s side showed an alarming lack of urgency, exemplified by another poor display from Willian.
There was also the lack of discipline that has been a problem this season with Dani Ceballos fortunate to escape a red card for raking his studs down Mina’s leg in the opening period.
Arsenal picked up after the break but they could hardly get any worse and their tally of 14 points represents their worst start to the season since 1974/75, when they won just three of their first 14 games.
There is no threat to Arteta’s position – he won the FA Cup last season after all – but there is a sense of dangerous drift about Arsenal, who have now gone seven league games without a win.
Arsenal’s tepid, negative first half handed the initiative to Everton and while it is a stretch to imagine the Gunners in a relegation fight, there must be serious concerns about the lack of results and that poor league position.
‘We need to win matches’ – what they said
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti to the BBC: “This season we started well, then we had a difficult moment, but right now I’m really pleased.
“We have fantastic players on set-pieces and we score lots of goals. We work on this because we are very dangerous. We are pleased; the position in the table is really good.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, also to the BBC: “It’s very similar to the last few weeks. We are trying, dominating the game but in the small moments we are losing the game. We lost, conceding an own goal and a set-piece.
“We had chances but the last shot, the last pass is not going our way. It’s not an excuse, we keep believing in what we are doing. We need to win matches and that’s not happening.”
The best of the stats
- Arsenal’s 14 points from 14 games this season is their worst record at this stage of a season since the 1974-75 campaign (12 points, converted to 3pts/win).
- Everton have won two of their last three home league games against Arsenal, as many as in their previous 11 against them at Goodison Park.
- After a run of just one win in seven Premier League games, Everton have won each of their last three, guaranteeing them a spot in the top four at Christmas for the first time since 2004-05 (3rd).
- Arsenal haven’t scored from open play in any of their last five Premier League away games, with their two goals on the road since Alexandre Lacazette’s strike against Liverpool coming from the penalty spot.
- Rob Holding’s own goal was the third by an Arsenal player in the Premier League this season (also Saka v Aston Villa and Aubameyang v Burnley). The Gunners had netted just two own goals in their previous four league campaigns combined.
- Each of Yerry Mina’s last four Premier League goals for Everton have come in the 45th minute of matches. In Premier League history, only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before (4 in the 90th between 2007-2011).
- Gylfi Sigurdsson has registered a goal involvement in his last two Premier League home games (1 goal, 1 assist), as many as he had in his previous 17 at Goodison Park.
- Nicolas Pepe has more goal involvements in all competitions than any other Arsenal player this season, with the Ivorian the Gunners’ joint-top goalscorer (5) and assister (3) this term.
Everton host Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, 23 December (20:00 GMT kick-off), before travelling to Sheffield United in the Premier League on Saturday, 26 December (20:00).
Arsenal host Manchester City in their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday (20:00) and welcome Chelsea to Emirates Stadium in the league on Saturday (17:30).
- 17IwobiSubstituted forColemanat 83′minutes
- 10G Sigurdsson
- 7RicharlisonSubstituted forKennyat 90+2′minutes
- 9Calvert-LewinBooked at 90minsSubstituted forTosunat 90+3′minutes
- 23David Luiz
- 3TierneyBooked at 40mins
- 25ElnenyBooked at 15minsSubstituted forWillockat 64′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 19PépéSubstituted forMartinelliat 71′minutes
- 30NketiahSubstituted forLacazetteat 76′minutes
- 17Cédric Soares
- 32Smith Rowe
Match ends, Everton 2, Arsenal 1.
Second Half ends, Everton 2, Arsenal 1.
Attempt blocked. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joseph Willock.
Attempt missed. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kieran Tierney with a cross.
Substitution, Everton. Cenk Tosun replaces Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Substitution, Everton. Jonjoe Kenny replaces Richarlison.
Joseph Willock (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joseph Willock (Arsenal).
Ben Godfrey (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Joseph Willock.
Foul by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).
Richarlison (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Joseph Willock (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ainsley Maitland-Niles with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian.
Attempt missed. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexandre Lacazette.
Substitution, Everton. Séamus Coleman replaces Alex Iwobi.
Attempt missed. Mason Holgate (Everton) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Gylfi Sigurdsson with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Joseph Willock.
Attempt blocked. Alex Iwobi (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.