Solid start and finish to first half
Everton’s two goals in this match came at the very beginning and very end of the first half. Unfortunately everything in between cost them a chance at coming away with some points.
The opening goal by Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a thing of beauty. A splendid overhead kick put Everton up within the first minute and Calvert-Lewin’s hot streak continued. The offense continued to be fairly solid after that but struggled to increase their lead. Unfortunately Arsenal started to find their groove and make their presence felt.
Everton were killed down the wings on Arsenal’s first two goals. The first was a perfectly placed cross that was poorly covered by the Everton defence overall. The second involved Djbril Sidibe getting torched by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Everton’s hot start was for naught and the game was looking increasingly out of reach.
A Richarlison goal in the dying moments of the first half brought things level again. But Aubameyang put Arsenal up for good with a goal in the opening minute of the first half.
Andre Gomes returns to the team
It was a pleasant surprise to see Andre Gomes return to the line up this season. After seeing his horrific injury back in November it wouldn’t have been a shock to see him sit out the remainder of the season. But he has returned and Everton have missed him greatly.
Despite the improvements at the forward position lead by Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, the midfield has still remained a problem area. Everton have lacked a true distributor in central midfield and Gomes’ brief appearance in this match reminded everyone what he is capable of.
It would probably be unwise to force too much playing time right away on Gomes in an attempt to grab a Europa League spot, but he can certainly help the team finish out the season strong as he gets his fitness levels back up.
Everton unlucky not to score more
Despite the long stretches of Arsenal dominating possession and looking like the better side, this match was closer than it appeared. As the second half wore on, Everton finally started playing themselves back into the game.
When the game was all said and done Everton had more shots, more chances created, more shots on target, and more shots inside the box (Per Understat, Everton had two goals on 1.75 xG, per InfoGol it was two goals on 2.13 xG). Unfortunately those chances didn’t find the back of the net when it mattered, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Despite Everton’s improvements up top, they still seem to lack that killer touch in the final third. Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin have made great strides this season, but it would be great to see them fine tune their finishing going forward.
For all their upside, both players have struggled at times to covert on some clear chances. There will always be matches where the ball just doesn’t bounce in Everton’s favor. But there’s certainly still room for improvement as far as taking advantage of the chances they are given.