The mood around Everton FC has been dramatically lifted thanks to an unlikely victory in Sean Dyche’s first game as manager. With high-flying Arsenal coming to town, it was all but given that the league-leaders would leave Goodison Park with all three points, but Dyche and his men had other plans.
The team showed the grit, passion, and determination that had seemingly gone missing in recent months, and when James Tarkowski headed home a Dwight McNeil corner in the 60th minute, the Grand Old Lady exploded into life. Jordan Pickford only had two saves to make all game; a testament to the resolute defending of the Everton backline, as well as some poor finishing from the Gunners. The three points moved Everton briefly out of the bottom three, but for now it seems the Toffees will end the weekend still in the relegation zone, but with an invaluable three points under the belt and momentum going into the Merseyside Derby next Monday.
Here are 5 telling stats from Everton’s crucial victory over Arsenal.
1. Valuable Victory
The triumphant 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace that I attended in October feels like ages ago, and that’s mainly because it was. That game felt like a turning point under Lampard, but it clearly wasn’t. Now, Dyche has been able to end the awful skid which saw the club lose 8 of its 9 prior league games coming into today. A huge victory for Everton in every way.
Everton have won a Premier League game for the first time since the 22nd of October 2022.— Squawka (@Squawka) February 4, 2023
Sean Dyche ends the 105-day wait in his first game in charge. pic.twitter.com/ztdC7GLBw6
2. Arsenal’s Agitators
Goodison Park has proved a bogey ground for a few of the Big Six over recent years: firstly Chelsea who only just snapped their five-game losing streak on the opening day of the season, and now Arsenal. The Gunners have succumbed to defeat in each of their last three visits to the Grand Old Lady, and have only picked up one point in the last five years in this fixture.
Everton have won each of their last 3 home games against Arsenal - the first time they have won 3 consecutive home games against the Gunners since March 1977 to August 1978. #EFC #EVEARS— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) February 4, 2023
3. Warranted Win
The most impressive and encouraging part of this victory for Everton was the fact that it was totally deserved. Dyche did not set up this time to park the bus and hope to capitalize on their only opening going forward like the scoreline might suggest. Rather, Everton defended soundly and countered with real menace, registering a respectable 12 shots to Arsenal’s 15, 4 big chances created to Arsenal’s 0, and 1.61 xG to Arsenal’s 0.84 according to FotMob. This was a tactical masterclass from Sean Dyche, and he was rewarded for it. What a way to start your tenure.
Teams that have beaten Arsenal on xG in the league this season:— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) February 4, 2023
4. Omnipotent Omnipresent Onana
One of the only positives from the week leading up to this game was the loyalty of Amadou Onana. The young Belgian has made his allegiance and commitment to Everton clear, such as this post using the hashtag #AintLeavingTheShip during the week. He was the unquestionable Man of the Match against the Gunners today, earning 69% of the Everton Twitter vote, and was filmed yelling “I ain’t going f****ng nowhere, I’m f****ng here!” in the tunnel post-match.
It’s safe to say he will be a crucial component in Everton’s ongoing fight for survival, especially if he continues to deliver performances like that.
Amadou Onana won possession multiple times in every third of the pitch against Arsenal:— Squawka (@Squawka) February 4, 2023
◉ 2x defensive third
◉ 4x middle third
◉ 2x attacking third
This heat map is INSANE. ♨️ pic.twitter.com/HVQ3wTufKl
5. Urgent Upsets
Interestingly enough, Everton have been far better against teams towards the top of the table than they have been against their fellow relegation battlers. The team has seemingly been able to raise their level to match that of opponents as shown by the performance at the Etihad on New Year’s Eve and now today’s against Arsenal, but Dyche must stress the importance of winning the remaining relegation six-pointers to his team. Let’s hope his men can pull of another upset next Monday when the team travels across Stanley Park for the Merseyside Derby at Anfield.
Everton have won more points against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool this season (5 points in 3 games) than they won against teams starting the day in the relegation zone this season (3 points in 5 games). #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) February 4, 2023