Football Features

“Too good to go down?” – Five things learned as Everton condemn Arsenal to more misery with third straight win

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:53, 19 December 2020 | Updated: 15:36, 11 September 2021

In an intense evening of football, Everton beat Arsenal 2-1 to move up to second in the Premier League.

The victory was The Toffees’ third in a row and inflicted the Gunners’ fifth defeat in their last seven games. But what else did we learn?

1. Yerry Mina is Death From Above

At the 2018 World Cup, Colombian Yerry Mina made history by scoring three headed goals direct from corners. He was an aerial monster, and Everton signed him from Barcelona soon after the tournament finished.

Today, Yerry Mina made it four headed goals from corners for The Toffees since signing for them. It was an absolutely immaculate goal where the Colombian was fully four yards ahead of the near-post but still met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner with enough skill and technique that Arsenal were left completely befuddled as it bombed into the net.

Mina may be a ropey defender at times, but his presence at set-pieces always puts defenders on edge and on the rare occasion when it all lines up he brings death from above. If the Toffees put more focus on set-pieces, they have a tremendous weapon to exploit.

2. Kieran Tierney is great

There’s going to be a lot of bad things written about Arsenal over the next week, so here’s something nice: Kieran Tierney is kinda great. The Scot was signed for cheap and missed most of last season through injury but now he’s back in the XI and looking very good.

Tierney created a game-high four chances, sent in a joint game-high seven crosses (three of which found their man, a game-high at a 42.9% accuracy rate) and he even made two clearances and one interception. The Scot really does look to be Arsenal’s best hope of creating a goal as his crossing is quite simply sublime, so it should be on Arsenal’s forwards to make sure they can attack those crosses because, honestly, at least one of them should have led to a goal.

3. Ancelotti has Everton flying! 

For the first time since the start of the season, Everton have won three Premier League games in a row. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have turned what could have been a really troubling run of games into a fine burst of form before the festive fixtures.

Everton had to play Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal in a row leading up to Christmas. And they beat them all, scoring five goals while conceding just the one: Pépé’s penalty today.

Alright, the football hasn’t been as free-flowing as it was when he had James and Lucas Digne in full flight, but Ancelotti has adjusted and found a way to get the points they need by hook or by crook.

The result has moved Everton all the way up the table, they now sit second on 26 points, just five behind league leaders Liverpool. That’s not likely to stay the same, but they are in supreme form ahead of the Boxing Day and New Year’s fixture bonanza.

Newcastle vs. Fulham kicks-off at 20:00

Confirmed Newcastle XI: Darlow; Yedlin, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Longgstaff, Ritchie; Almiron, Joelinton, Wilson

Confirmed Fulham XI: Areola; Aina, Anderson, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Lemina, Zambo-Anguissa; DeCordova-Reid, Cairney, Lookman; Mitrovic

Find out how to tune in with Sky Ultimate TV + Sky Sports

4. Arsenal are cursed

In Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Southampton, former Arsenal man Theo Walcott scored against them. A delightful chip to give Saints the lead. Today at Goodison Park it was Alex Iwobi’s turn, and the Nigerian winger didn’t disappoint, bending in a delicious cross for Everton’s opening goal.

Iwobi was in acres of space as he sent the ball into the area for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head against Rob Holding. It was yet another miserable chapter in the story of Arsenal Football Club. Everyone they let go seems to go on to thrive, and even if they don’t thrive, they always perform against Arsenal, just to rub things in.

5. Too good to go down?

It’s December 19th and Arsenal are just five points above the relegation zone. Five. Every team below them has played one game fewer than they have as well, so that gap could yet be smaller come Christmas Day.

What on earth has happened to Arsenal this season? What started as a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dry streak in front of goal has morphed into a club-wise malaise. Mikel Arteta, a promising coach whose tactics genuinely seemed to have Arsenal on the right track, has lost all his mojo and if reports are to be believed he’s fallen out with senior members of his locker room, too.

We always say that some sides are too good to go down. And surely that must be said of Arsenal. But the thing is, are they? In the second-half against Everton they didn’t have a single shot on target. They repeatedly failed to test the rickety Jordan Pickford in goal.

Even with all that talent, if they continue to play as poorly as they have done up to now then they will certainly be relegation contenders. Something has to change, because as things stand Arsenal are doomed.