Jagielka rises from the ashes
Phil Jagielka who has been just about written off as a meaningful contributor to this team had himself one heck of a match. With Arsenal looking very good in the opening minutes of the match, it appeared as if Everton’s good run of form may be coming to an end. But at the ten minute mark the skipper came to lief and pounced on a loose ball to score what would be the winning goal.
Jagielka could have stopped there and everyone probably would have been happy with that performance. But the defender wasn’t satisfied with just being the oldest goal scorer this season. He actually put in a fairly solid shift in the back line and contributed to Everton’s third consecutive clean sheet. He certainly wasn’t without his nervy moments here and there, but there’s not much more you can ask for out of Jagielka in this situation. He was solid, reliable and didn’t cost the team any goals. Obviously his best days are behind him, but I don’t think anyone minded seeing a flash of the old Jags out there on the pitch.
Arsenal unable to bother the Everton defense
It wasn’t just Phil Jagielka who put on a good show against Arsenal, the whole defensive unit was again very impressive. There was a stretch during the season where it seemed as though no matter what defenders were put in, this team would leak goals. But it seems Marco Silva and his players have figured something out and have put in a string of really nice defensive performances.
It should be noted that Everton have been playing some offensively dangerous teams the last three matches. Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal are no slouches when it comes to scoring goals, making this streak all the more impressive. In the first half of this match, no Arsenal attacker really bothered Jordan Pickford. It wasn’t until a pair of halftime substitutions for Arsenal kicked off the second half that they even started to consistently make headway in Everton’s half. Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi were dangerous at times but on the whole the defense kept Arsenal from inflicting any real damage.
Everton attack continues to click
It hasn’t just been the defense that has been turning heads for Everton, the offensive unit has been impressive as well lately. Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard seem to have found their groove and have been overwhelming opposing defenses. Add in Lucas Digne’s career year and some solid performances from Dominc Calvert-Lewin and we have a functioning attack on our hands.
It should be said that this match should have easily been a higher scoring one. These blown chances by Everton could have really come back to hurt them, but they were lucky against Arsenal. Some of these issues can be excused by youth and inexperience, but if this wishes to be more consistent, they need to punish opponents when they are given clear scoring chances. This midfield group has really turned it on in the last part of this season and it is exciting to think about what they can do next season with even more time together.