Dwight McNeil and James Tarkowski combined to hand Sean Dyche a dream start as Everton manager, recording a third successive home win against Arsenal for the first time since 1978 and pulling them out of the relegation zone in the process.
Incoming boss Dyche has highlighted hard work and physicality as the ingredients to sustain Everton’s omnipresence in the Premier League. His starting eleven epitomised those traits, giving the home fans something to cheer as they frustrated high-flying Arsenal early on. The Toffee’s know goals win games however, and with only six goals from the lineup prior to today they were to pay for a lack of potency. Amadou Onana went galloping into open space down the left, before playing the ball across the six-yard box but agonisingly beyond the reach of an outstretched Dominic Calvert-Lewin right-foot.
For all Arsenal’s possession, Bukayo Saka went in at halftime rueing a clear cut opportunity, uncharacteristically allowing Conor Coady to clear from the goalline as he scuffed his effort. Everything they have touched so far this season has turned to gold, but the Goodison Park pressure cooker seemed to be getting the better of them as Martin Ødegaard ballooned his effort over the bar early in the second half.
In typical Dyche style, it had been an aerial bombardment of Arsenal’s penalty box with Calvert-Lewin spurning a couple of headed chances. The away side could only hold out for so long however, as Everton forced their way in front on the hour. It was Dwight McNeil, handed his debut by Dyche at Burnley who swung a corner onto the head of former Burnley teammate James Tarkowski who made no mistake firing beyond Aaron Ramsdale.
On each of the previous four occasions Arsenal had fallen behind this season, it had taken an average of 17 minutes to reply. It wasn’t to be on a rare off day however, as they fell to their first defeat in the league since the start of September.