Everton boss Marco Silva said his side’s improved form is down to confidence following their impressive victory over Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Phil Jagielka, who was called into the starting XI as a replacement for Michael Keane shortly before kick-off, poked home the only goal of the game following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header from Lucas Digne’s early long throw.
“I’m really, really happy. We deserved the three points,” Silva told BBC Sport.
“The chances we created, we should score more goals. It is a fantastic win and one more clean sheet. That’s the spirit I like – the desire to win every challenge.
“[Earlier in the season] we lost some confidence, we had a break and after we worked really well. It’s the same team with more confidence.”
Arsenal were poor in the first half and, while they did improve in the second, they never seriously tested Jordan Pickford in the Toffees goal.
Everton, meanwhile, had plenty of chances to double their lead in the second half as Bernard, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson all spurned chances.
Victory for Everton means they leapfrog Watford into ninth while Arsenal remain in fourth.
Dominant Toffees claim deserved victory
Everton only announced Jagielka was starting 15 minutes before kick-off – a late replacement for Keane who dropped out of the matchday squad due to illness.
But it only took the club captain 10 minutes to get on the scoresheet as he capitalised on confusion in the Arsenal box to fire home his first goal since April 2017 from close range.
The hosts went on to dominate for much of the first half with Brazilian pair Richarlison and Bernard causing problems as they found plenty of space in behind the Gunners’ wing-backs.
While the visitors did improve after the break with the introduction of Aaron Ramsey and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, the Toffees were still largely the better side.
Bernard should have doubled his side’s lead on 59 minutes when an error by Ainsley Maitland-Niles presented him with a one-on-one with Bernd Leno which the keeper saved well.
And there were more chances for the hosts as the game drew to a close, too, as Sigurdsson could only shoot straight at Leno from Richarlison’s cut-back, while the Brazilian skewed his own effort wide with the goal gaping.
There were further opportunities for Bernard, Andre Gomes and substitute Theo Walcott as the Toffees piled on the pressure but they could not find a second goal.
However, they were not made to pay for their lack of cutting edge as they claimed a victory which sees them string together three consecutive league wins for only the second time this season and the first since October.
In a relatively tame contest, tempers did flair on the touchline late on as Silva and Unai Emery had a heated altercation following a mistimed challenge by Shkodran Mustafi on Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Mesut Ozil, who had been withdrawn shortly before the tackle in question, was also involved as he appeared to throw his coat in Silva’s direction.
“Football is emotional. He wants the best for his team, I want the best for mine. At the end we spoke together and everything is normal,” Silva told BBC Sport.
Toothless Arsenal fail to impress
When the Gunners arrived at Goodison Park they were chasing a fourth-straight win across all competitions and they were unbeaten in the league since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in early February.
But they looked a side devoid of confidence and ideas in the first 45 minutes on Merseyside.
In fact, it only took them 10 minutes to continue their unwanted record of being the only Premier League side to not keep an away clean sheet as Jagielka poked in the hosts’ eventual winner.
With the injured Granit Xhaka missing from Arsenal’s midfield, Everton’s Andre Gomes was able to dictate the game’s tempo, with neither Matteo Guendouzi nor Mohamed Elneny able to impose themselves.
The Gunners did improve after the break as Emery changed his side’s shape by bringing on a second striker in the form of Aubemeyang, but still they could not find a way to breach the Everton defence.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan went closest with a curling effort from the edge of the box but the fact Pickford only made two saves spoke volumes.
Despite their defeat Arsenal still currently occupy the final Champions League qualification spot but they could well lose it to Chelsea if Maurizio Sarri’s side can beat West Ham on Monday night.
And with a Europa League quarter-final against Napoli on Thursday, and more crucial league games on the horizon, Emery needs to find out what went wrong at Goodison Park and fast.
|Race for the Premier League top four|
|8 April West Ham (H)|
|15 April Watford (A)||14 April Liverpool (A)||13 April West Ham (H)||13 April Huddersfield (H)|
|21 April Crystal Palace (H)||22 April Burnley (H)||21 April Everton (A)||20 April Manchester City (A)|
|24 April Wolves (A)||24 April Man City (H)||23 April Brighton (H)|
|29 April Leicester (A)||28 April Man Utd (A)||28 April Chelsea (H)||27 April West Ham (H)|
|4 May Brighton (H)||4 May Watford (H)||4 May Huddersfield (A)||4 May Bournemouth (A)|
|12 May Burnley (A)||12 May Leicester (A)||12 May Cardiff (H)||12 May Everton (H)|
Man of the match – Bernard (Everton)
‘We are trying to build momentum’ – what they said
Everton boss Marco Silva, speaking to BBC Sport: “The fans can be the key for us, we have to give them what they expect. I came to a big club like Everton to give our fans what they deserve. It is a matter of keep working to achieve what we want.”
Everton goalscorer Phil Jagielka on Sky Sports: “It feels great. Obviously, to keep a clean sheet as well. We are trying to build a little bit of momentum. We could have had a few more. Arsenal are a good team and obviously we beat Chelsea as well.”
Arsenal’s struggles away from home continue – the stats
- Arsenal have lost seven of their last 11 away matches in all competitions (W2 D2 L7).
- Arsenal are one of only two teams in the top four tiers of English league football this season without an away clean sheet this season, along with Championship side Ipswich Town.
- Only Richard Gough (37y 138d) in August 1999 against Southampton has scored a Premier League goal for Everton at an older age than Phil Jagielka did today (36y 233d).
- Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson attempted seven shots in this match – as many as the entire Arsenal team combined.
- Everton have won their last two Premier League games against ‘big six’ opponents – as many as in their previous 41 league games against them (W2 D14 L25).
- Only Patrick Vieira in 1996-97 and Shkodran Mustafi in 2016-17 (11) have received more yellow cards in a single Premier League season for Arsenal than Sokratis this season (10).
Arsenal are back in European action on Thursday, 11 April when they host Napoli in the Europa League quarter finals (20:00 BST).
Meanwhile, Everton’s next game is away to already-relegated Fulham on Saturday, 13 April (15:00).