A spirited Everton handed new boss Sean Dyche the perfect start following a hard-fought but deserved 1-0 win over Premier League leaders Arsenal at Goodison Park this afternoon.
The hosts were remarkably industrious and resilient, nothing like in recent weeks, and their persistence was rewarded in the 60th minute when former Burnely players combined as James Tarkowski headed Dwight McNeil’s cross home. Interestingly, all eight of Tarkowski’s top-flight goals have come under Dyche, seven with the Clarets before today’s strike.
FT. YESSSSSS!!!!!!!! ✊
Big. Three. Points…
UP THE TOFFEES!!! ??? pic.twitter.com/QUgiiRZOpW
— Everton (@Everton) February 4, 2023
Having started this latest round of fixtures second from bottom, and with the league’s second-worst attack, Dyche knew he was facing an uphill task but not unachievable given how close things are down there. Going back to basics was a necessity and hiring a pragmatic coach known for squeezing everything out of his players could prove to be Everton’s signing of the season.
Everything about today’s performance felt uncharacteristically different compared to what many have become accustomed to. For one, they registered eight shots in the first half, which is more than any previous home game in this Premier League season. They really should have gone into half-time ahead. No one exemplified this renewed energy than Amadou Onana who collected the man-of-the-match award for his tireless work at both ends of the pitch.
Amadou Onana's game by numbers vs Arsenal:
8 possession won
7 duels won
2 chances created
2 tackles won
That's a MOTM performance. ? pic.twitter.com/WT3aw0glaE
— Squawka (@Squawka) February 4, 2023
Chasing a first win in 105 days, Dyche subsequently became just the second manager to beat a side starting the day top in his first Premier League game in charge of a club, after then West Ham head coach Alan Curbishley’s beat Man Utd in December 2006. In fact, the last time Everton recorded a Premier League win against a side starting the day top of the table was in January 2012, a 1-0 success against Man City under David Moyes.
As for the Gunners, this ended a 14-game unbeaten run, their second Premier League loss of this campaign. It also tempered anyone thinking Mikel Arteta’s men waltzing towards ending a 19-year championship drought. By the end of this weekend Arsenal’s lead on defending champions Manchester City could be two points with a showdown between the sides in North London looming on the horizon.
How the internet reacted
Everton’s win impacted both ends of the Premier League table with them firmly entrenched in a relegation battle while Arsenal seek to end Manchester City’s grip on the crown. A momentous result was going to have everyone talking and not just from those supporting either club.
Agent Jorginho trended on Twitter, given the former Chelsea midfielder’s introduction came just a minute before Tarkowski’s goal.
When Jorginho turns out to be an agent & stops them from winning the league pic.twitter.com/Fu1xiy4pdL
— Dubois (@CFCDUBois) January 31, 2023
Jorginho on and Arsenal go 1-0 down. thats my agent man ?
— CarefreeLewisG (@CarefreeLewisG) February 4, 2023
Agent Jorginho: First Mission accomplished ✅ pic.twitter.com/l5OYZlk0bV
— Sbu Mkhize (@SbuTitan) February 4, 2023
Dyche’s instant impact led to another Internet theory.
— IBRAHIM DECO KOROMA (@KoromaDeco) February 4, 2023
Bald Managers owning Arsenal ??
— RS™️ (@RashfordSxzn) February 4, 2023
Some Arsenal fans are already giving up on the title…
“Damn.. Did we just lose to a bottom side,” wrote Reddit user SayEye
“Bye bye PL title for sure”
k1ldn wrote: “In full doomer mode, don’t see us coming back from this, two Ls in a row will do significant psychological damage that will dilute our winning culture. City in good form and will likely go on another ridiculous winning streak, it’s all over.”
But most remained positive:
“Not great today obviously,” wrote kervlin6.
“But people need to relax a bit. If you told anybody that in February we’d be top of the league in any capacity, we’d take it. We go again next week. Calm.”
❤️❤️❤️ Still Top 1 , we go again https://t.co/9QMD94EBN1
— Arsenal Fc (@imGunners) February 4, 2023
Mikel Arteta himself told BT Sport: “Today I love [Arsenal players] much better than the week before or a month ago. It is easy to be next to someone when they are winning well. I am still so proud of all of these players. They deserve it.”