Hurry, Everton fans, run out and buy a lottery ticket! If Friday’s game was any indication, luck is the color blue this week. The Toffees were dominated in every significant statistical category against the Gunners: shot attempts, shots on target, possession, passes and corner kicks. Yet, somehow, the Merseyside outfit managed a 1–0 victory and a scrumptious three points.
Despite looking like the inferior side for most of Friday’s affair, Everton scored the one look they had on target. Richarlison drove to the end line and hit a shot that should have been a routine save for Bernd Leno. In this instance, however, the ball hit Leno’s gloves and crept into the back of the net. While the goal celebration was a bit unsportsmanlike, it did lift the Toffees to within four points of the Champions League with a game in hand over Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea.
“I wonder why Pickford is playing so well in recent fixtures?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s the new hairstyle!”
While a new haircut clearly isn’t the reason for an uptick in form for England’s embattled number one, he has overcome early-season jitters to produce several quality outings between the sticks. Blaming the former Sunderland man for Tottenham’s pair of goals last week would be entirely unwarranted — both were results of defensive miscommunication. Disagree? How about you try and stop Harry Kane from scoring while he stands unmarked at the top of the six. Pickford has, at times, rightfully earned condemnation from pundits, fans and coaches this season for his performances in net. But credit where credit is due; the 27-year-old has answered when called upon and kept his side in games.
2020/21 Season: Everton > Arsenal
Anyone up for a history lesson? Friday’s victory was Everton’s first win away at Arsenal since January of 1996, when they emerged with the three points from a 2–1 scoreline (full disclosure, I wasn’t born the last time they won in North London). Friday’s fixture was the second time the two sides had met this season — the Blues won 2–1 in December at Goodison — and with a cheeky 1–0 result, the Toffees completed their first league double over the Gunners since the 1985/86 campaign.
And to pile on the misery for the home side, Arsenal has now dropped seven home matches this season, their most since 1992/93. Meanwhile, Everton have now won ten away games in a season, a first since 1986. History was made, three points were earned, consoling arms were extended to Leno, and Carlo Ancelotti was as stoic as ever on his touchline (until the post-game interview, that is).