Arsenal 2-1 Everton

A terrible pass by Ashley Young led to Arsenal claiming a late, late winner to deny Everton what would have been a well-deserved point from a largely rearguard action at the Emirates. A deflected shot from Idrissa Gana Gueye had given the Blues the lead after DCL had hit the post and a second half save by Raya denied DCL again.

The final day of the 23/24 Premier League season saw the Blues travel to the nations capital to face an opponent in Arsenal still harbouring hopes of being crowned Champions. Quite simply, if West Ham could do the Gunners a massive favour by beating Manchester City at the Etihad, then Mikel Arteta’s side would only need a point to get their mitts on the trophy.

Gunners manager Mikel Arteta has done rather well in this his first managerial role and standing on the brink of possibly becoming Champions, he commented, “It’s one of the biggest weeks for many of us, and certainly now is the most important moment. I’m really excited and can’t wait for Sunday to be in front of us, and obviously I’m very optimistic as well with the possible outcome.”

He continued adding, The hope was there (for a Spurs win over City last Tuesday) and it didn’t happen and now we have to do our job which is going to be tough, because Everton are in a really good moment. So we’re going have to prove again that we can be better than the opponent and win the game. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Asked if maintaining his players focus on the game – with news coming in from the Etihad – was a problem, Arteta noted, “The only thing that we have discussed is giving ourselves the opportunity to live a beautiful day on Sunday where the dream is still alive and is possible, and it’s football. Once we are there, we just have to live the moment and play like every single week and understand that for that dream to happen, we have to win. Then we have to hope again for West Ham to help us to achieve that dream, but that part is on us and is the only thing that we can focus on.”

For the final time in this 23/24 season, he named his starting line-up: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Partey, Odegaard (c), Rice, Havertz, Trossard and Martinelli.

Arsenal at the Emirates is always expected to be a tough ask but with the Blues on a five-game unbeaten stretch that has ensured top flight footie again next season, manager Sean Dyche reflected on the campaign saying, “It’s been a very long season for many different challenges that have come our way. There’s been a lot of work by many to make sure we look after ourselves, so I’m pleased with that. It’s been a very tiring season but in the balance of that, a very pleasing season. It’s definitely been my most difficult because the challenges in-house are one thing but when it comes from outside, and the varying things that have happened; the curveballs that have come along, it does make it a challenge.”

And the boss summarised adding, “I have to front it up but, there’s been a lot of work done by a lot of people. I thank them for their work, as well. Kevin Thelwell’s included in that. It’s a very difficult job currently trying to fathom out the business and the football side of things and bring that together. Myself, the staff, and the players – I think everyone has played their part, and of course, the fans. Without them and their support, it’d be a more challenging season, without a doubt.”

Heading to the Emirates in the potential role of party-poopers, Everton were without Vitalii Mykolenko, Nathan Patterson and the soon to be out of contract Dele Alli, and with Jack Harrison having suffered a hamstring strain, Dyche was also unable to include Andre Gomes for what would be his final appearance for the Blues.

Ultimately, he selected an unchanged starting eleven thus: Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman (c), James Tarkowski, Jarrad Branthwaite, Ashley Young, James Garner, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Amadou Onana, Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

On a gloriously sunny afternoon, Michael Oliver was our referee.

Everton in all Blue saw Arsenal dominate the opening exchanges with an excellent block denying Tomiyasu on the games first shot and then a terrific pass from Odegaard found Havertz and Branthwaite conceded the first corner that DCL headed clear before Rice chipped a cross to the back post where Tomiyasu failed to hit the target with his header.

Loud at the outset, the Emirates fell quiet on seven minutes as news came through that Foden had given City an early lead against West Ham.

The Blues first foray into Arsenal territory saw a measured build-up before Partey conceded a corner that McNeil swung to the back post area for Onana to climb, Raya claiming possession at the second attempt. Good covering by Onana saw him deny Rice but, a poor ball from Branthwaite saw Rice get a shot in that was easily saved by Jordan Pickford.

Another deep cross from Odegaard found Trossard the wrong side of Coleman and his volley was deflected off the Blues skipper and only a smart reaction from Pickford – at the expense of a corner – prevented the opening goal. The Blues defended the corner with a solid punch from Pickford and the England number one made another superb save to deny Martinelli after he’d turned away from Branthwaite. The Blues countered to win a free kick five yards outside the Arsenal area and central that DCL took but, his shot hit Gabriel in the wall.

A lovely dribble by McNeil saw the ball played right for Coleman to cross and the Blues recovered the clearing header to keep the pressure on before Gana Gueye went down under a challenge from Havertz that went unpunished. Twenty minutes played and Arsenal won a third corner that saw an infringement and the silence returned as news came through that Foden had doubled City’s lead.

Another measured build up by Everton came to nothing as Onana slipped and on the Arsenal counter attack, Havertz couldn’t shake off Tarkowski, his eventual weak shot easily cleared by Branthwaite. Onana went down on 27 minutes after a knock to his right ankle, and both sets of players took the stoppage time to take on some fluids on a very warm afternoon.

Everton defended the next Arsenal raid and broke quickly with Gana Gueye splitting the home defence to send in DCL who saw his shot beat Raya but, come back off the post and his instant second effort went the wrong side of the post to ripple the side netting. Everton again had to work hard to keep the Gunners at bay on their next attack and the next raid saw Saliba thread a ball through to Martinelli where a tremendous challenge by Tarkowski halted his progress, the German staying down and needing lengthy treatment before heading to the touchline.

McNeil led another Everton attack before being fouled by Partey who was rightly yellow carded and the free kick again was in a good position, and taken by Idrissa Gana Gueye, his shot took a deflection off the head of Rice to completely flatfoot Raya and on 40 minutes, the Blues were in front, and pandemonium erupted amongst the travelling support.

Tarkowski needed treatment after being accidentally caught by Rice and a little over two minutes later, Arsenal were level as a ball cut back in from the right by Odegaard found Tomiyasu in space and his shot low into the bottom corner gave JP no chance.

And the atmosphere took another change of noise level as news came in of a goal for West Ham at the Etihad. A minimum of seven added-on minutes were announced and largely unheard and as Everton looked to build through midfield, Rice brought down Gana Gueye with the free kick leading to Raya going down. Arsenal were now looking to try and take a lead into the half time interval and Odegaard fed Partey for a shot from outside the area, it went high and wide.

At the break, a first half largely dominated by the home side ended level as a well-organised and determined Blues had soaked up nearly everything and shown that on the counter, they too carried a threat.

Half Time: 1-1

No changes by either manager for the start of the second half which saw Arsenal with the first attack, Havertz heading wide on a cross from the right by Martinelli. Tarkowski was booked for a strong challenge on Havertz, and moments later, Branthwaite was nearly caught out by Havertz but, managed to recover and get the ball back for Pickford to clear downfield.

White stole at least ten yards on a throw-in that before Everton countered and Doucoure clashed with Gabriel and was booked for his part in it. Gana Gueye cleared a ball from Martinelli intended for Odegaard as Arsenal kept piling forward in search of a go-ahead goal. Everton countered with Gana Gueye carrying the ball a long way with DCL and Doucoure ahead of him, and Garner on the right wing overlap before re-cycling the ball back to halfway.

Gabriel went down off the ball holding his right shoulder and Arsenal replaced him with Zinchenko just before the hour mark as news of a third goal for Manchester City came through. Trossard, found by a cross from Martinelli, was quickly closed down by Garner and Coleman and the attack broke down.

Arsenal were again dominating the possession but finding Everton a tough nut to crack and a quick counter started by Onana ended with an acrobatic full-length flying save from Raya to deny DCL from restoring an Everton lead. Branthwaite and Pickford got in a bit of a mix-up in conceding a right wing corner which led to another and Rice fired high and wide on a clearing header by Branthwaite.

Havertz saw a header from a Martinelli cross come back off the post, but it wouldn’t have counted as the offside flag was raised. Just about everything Arsenal were throwing at Everton was being channelled through Odegaard and particularly Martinelli and Tarkowski pushing forward through midfield was caught by Rice. On 69 minutes, Arsenal replaced Partey and White with Smith-Rowe and Timber before Coleman showed all his experience to outmuscle Trossard.

Into the final twenty minutes and the home crowd were resigned now to finishing as runners-up in the title race and brilliant defending by the Blues saw Pickford deny Odegaard at short range after he’d been found by Trossard. McNeil was crudely fouled by Timber who was rightly booked and on 74 minutes, Youssef Chermiti replaced DCL.

A clearing ball from Doucoure set Garner free down the right, Arsenal getting back in numbers to prevent him and Chermiti forging a serious chance. Arsenal made a third change on 78 minutes bringing on former City striker Jesus to replace Trossard for the final push for a winner. Odegaard again fed Martinelli to reach the bye line before crossing across the face of goal and out for a throw-in.

A foul by McNeil on Odegaard gave Arsenal a free kick on the right that Doucoure headed clear and the next Arsenal attack again saw Martinelli cross for Smith-Rowe to see his shot bounce up off the pitch to hit the crossbar and Pickford was booked for time-wasting at the goal kick. Rice halted an Everton counter and the Blues had to funnel back quickly to deny the home side. Branthwaite played safety first in conceding a left wing corner and after Tarkowski initially cleared, Branthwaite again got a telling headed deflection on a shot from Jesus with the resulting corner again well defended.

Another cross from Martinelli found Havertz but his header went miles over the bar and passing the 88-minute mark, a disastrous ball from Young gifted Arsenal the winner. Jesus intercepted and made ground quickly to feed Odegaard and the ball fell nicely for Havertz to net from close range. VAR though called for a pitchside review of a possible handball against Jesus and a further five added-on minutes were signalled while we awaited the decision that saw the goal given.

Jesus went down on the left edge of the area to give the Gunners another late free kick that failed to produce and a last effort by Martinelli failed to trouble Jordan Pickford, and at the final whistle, the result whilst probably justified on the balance of play and possession was extremely hard on Everton and their – as always – fantastic travelling support.

Full Time: 2-1

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop