Everton manager Ronald Koeman finally got the strong team performance that he has been looking for. He was more than pleased with the level of aggression and commitment from the players on the pitch, and was grateful to the fans as well for showing the passion that Goodison Park has become famous for.
Coming in for special praise was out-of-favour James McCarthy, who has been linked with wanting away from Everton in recent weeks. The Republic of Ireland international, watched by Roy Keane, put in a strong shift in the midfield, and his aggressive play pushed the visitors Arsenal back and set the tone for both players and fans to follow.
“How we played after 20 minutes, there was aggression in midfield and I think James McCarthy played fantastically tonight.
“He was one of the motors to start to press and to be aggressive and that was a good message to the rest of the team.
“[Alongside him], the defence showed the support that the team needed until the last second but that starts with all the players and with commitment.”
In his first full Everton start, Enner Valencia also had a good game on the right wing playing ahead of McCarthy. The Ecuador international played 79 minutes before being replaced by Everton debutant Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Here’s what Koeman had to say about Valencia -
“He did well and worked very hard. He made it difficult for Arsenal, was full of running, was behind the defenders, was defending and that’s what we need to do when we find ourselves in difficult situations.”