Everton sink Arsenal as Yerry Mina header piles pressure on Arteta – The Guardian

Mikel Arteta received polite applause from the Gwladys Street end before and after kick-off, but not what he needed most on his return to Goodison Park. Arsenal showed a little fighting spirit, while keeping 11 men on the pitch, but precious little quality as their miserable form extended to seven Premier League games without a win. Everton ascended to second without having to shine.

Yerry Mina sealed a third win in a week for Carlo Ancelotti’s team with a towering header on the stroke of half-time after Pépé’s penalty had cancelled out Rob Holding’s unfortunate own goal. The Colombia international was one of several impressive performers in royal blue, along with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ben Godfrey and Abdoulaye Doucouré, and this was a hard-fought victory confirmed by Jordan Pickford’s crucial late save from Bukayo Saka. But that was a rare intervention from the Everton goalkeeper.

Arsenal, anaemic in the first half, improved markedly after the break yet still lacked the guile, composure and penetration to hurt their hosts. They have now taken a pitiful five points from the last 30 available. Arteta and Ancelotti both reach their first anniversaries this week but only the latter can raise a toast.

The Arsenal manager, who has presided over the club’s worst start to a season since 1974-75, admitted: “I understand the situation. My energy and focus is on getting the team out of this situation. You can’t deny the spirit the players have shown every time they are on the pitch, but the results are not acceptable for the standards of this football club.”

Arteta, without the suspended Gabriel Magalhães, suffered another setback before kick-off when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ruled out with a tight calf. David Luiz replaced Gabriel in a three-man defence that came under immediate pressure from an Everton side displaying more confidence, intent and aggression. “We were too slow in the first half,” Arteta reflected. “We needed to be quicker and attack the space and we did that in the second half. We dominated but it is complicated to attack the low block.” Dominated was something of an exaggeration.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson fires a free-kick into the Arsenal wall.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson fires a free-kick into the Arsenal wall. Photograph: Jon Super/EPA

Given Calvert-Lewin’s aerial prowess and the space behind the Arsenal wing-backs Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Saka, quality deliveries into the area always appeared a fruitful option for Everton. They took a while to find their range but found themselves deservedly ahead when the former Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi collected a cross-field ball from Tom Davies and centred for Calvert-Lewin. The England international connected with a glancing header that struck the unwitting Holding before creeping inside the far post.

Arsenal were belatedly jolted into action. Kieran Tierney created an excellent chance for Eddie Nketiah to equalise when he hooked the ball back from the byline. Nketiah, unmarked, miscued badly with a sliced finish that sailed yards wide. The visitors were then gifted a leveller from the penalty spot when Davies, starting in place of the injured Allan and André Gomes, felled Maitland-Niles when attempting to clear Mina’s diving header. The Arsenal winger made the most of the contact but Davies’s reaction said it all when he swung at the clearance, only to connect with Maitland-Niles’ thigh instead.

Pépé, after a long, stuttering run-up, sent Pickford the wrong way.

The visitors were unable to enjoy their gift for long. On the stroke of half-time Calvert-Lewin started and finished a flowing move with a neat chest and a measured pass to Iwobi on the right. He released the overlapping Mason Holgate, who returned the ball inside for Calvert-Lewin to cut across Mohamed Elneny and drive left-footed towards the top corner. Bernd Leno intervened with a superb finger-tip save, only to be beaten seconds later from the resulting corner. Mina lost Pépé far too easily as Gylfi Sigurdsson shaped to cross and, having darted to the front post without his marker for company, beat Leno with a powerful header.

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To their credit Arsenal were unrecognisable after the restart. David Luiz hit a post after Pickford spilled a Willian cross but, with Godfrey excelling yet again as a makeshift left-back, the visitors were easily nullified until Saka broke into the box in injury time and Pickford parried his low shot.

“We are not playing fantastic attacking football at the moment but the spirit of the team is really strong and it is that spirit that has delivered these three wins,” said Ancelotti.