MATCH REPORT – ARSENAL VS EVERTON, ARSENAL STUMBLE YET AGAIN WHILE EVERTON STAY IN THE FIGHT FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Arsenal tumbled to Everton in a dull 1-0 loss in the Premier League at the Emirates on Friday. But the match was outshone by the actions that occurred outside the Emirates before the match started with hundreds of Arsenal fans surrounding the ground in their protests against the Kroenke ownership in the wake of the European Super League scandal.
— Everton (@Everton) April 23, 2021
On the pitch, Everton went close to taking the lead, first in the 30th minute, when Richarlison left-footed shot was parried away by Bernd Leno. Five minutes before half-time, Gylfi Sigurðsson clipped the top of the crossbar with a free kick for the Toffees.
In the second half, Arsenal thought they had been awarded a penalty for a foul on Dani Ceballos by Richarlison, only for the decision to be overturned by VAR for an extended elbow of Nicolas Pepe in the build-up, albeit it was one of those millimetre calls.
But then Everton finally made the breakthrough in the 76th when Richarlison broke free down the right and put in a low cross which Leno looked to be gathering with ease, but to his dismay, the ball creeped through his legs, resulting in a hilarious own goal.
Richarlison celebrating after playing a huge part in the own goal against Arsenal. (Image Courtesy: Everton / Twitter)
Arsenal, stay in ninth with 46 points, while Carlo Ancelotti’s side has made sure that they stay in the race for Champions League, with only three points separating them and fourth placed Chelsea.
Here are three key takeaways from the fixture:
WHERE ARE THE FINISHING BOOTS?
While we talked about beautiful finishing in our match report for the game between Napoli and Lazio on Thursday, it was nearly quite the opposite. The game saw a combined total of 22 shots from both Arsenal and Everton, and the action that led to the goal wasn’t even a shot by Richarlison.
Earlier in the first half, the Brazilian missed a big chance as he tried to curl the ball past Leno, which was parried away in a rather jittery way, just missing the oncoming Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Sigurðsson’s shot just before hitting the crossbar. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Twitter)
While Sigurðsson’s free-kick hit the crossbar, Arsenal had plenty of chances where they could have scored two or three goals and disappear into the space. Yes, they were missing their star strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is diagnosed with Malaria and Alexander Lacazette, due to hamstring issue.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the other Arsenal players, except Bukayo Saka, are performing rather underwhelmingly.
HOWLER NUMBER ….
Those kinds of howlers stay in one’s mind for a long period of time and it will certainly be in the head of Bernd Leno. What was an unharmful cross from Richarlison at the near post, the Arsenal goalie let the ball creep through his legs, gifting an important goal to Everton in what was an important win for the Toffees.
Leno looking the ball that crept through his legs for an own goal. (Image Courtesy: ManuelBlue / Twitter)
But this isn’t the first time that the German had committed such acts. There are very many atrocious decisions on his sheet, two of those in the recent past.
One occurred in a Europa League game, against Rapid Vienna where Leno gifted the opener for the Austrian club after failing to play from the back. Although that didn’t affect in the long-term as Arsenal won the game 2-1, the mistake infuriated the fans, in which some of them went on to call out Mikel Arteta for selling Emiliano Martinez, who is more than capable with his legs.
Starting to think Martinez was the right first choice keeper… Leno went from a great shot stopper with the occasional howler to a full time liability
— The Atlanta Arsenal (@AtlantaArsenal) April 23, 2021
The second occurred in February at Wolves, where Leno handled the ball way outside the box, to be sent off after David Luiz was too sent off in the first of that game, leaving Arsenal with nine men.
He is a good goalkeeper, no doubt, but is he the one Arsenal could rely upon? Arteta must ask himself…
ARE CARLO’S MEN UP FOR THE TASK?
Manchester City are champions elect. Manchester United are virtually confirmed to finish second. But below them there is a race brewing that can go on until the final weekend of the season as six teams still compete for the remaining two Champions League slots.
With Leicester opening up a three-point lead from Chelsea and West Ham, who are on 55 points, they can still falter as seen in the last season. Tottenham and Liverpool are next, with both on 53 points while Everton finish the top eight with 52 points, six points ahead of Arsenal.
Ancelotti’s side must step up in order to qualify for the Champions League. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Twitter)
Ancelotti’s side might have to do it the hard way, with them facing Aston Villa, West Ham and Man City in their remaining five fixtures. And for that he will need his team to be on top their game, especially Calvert-Lewin.
The English forward’s form has spiked down after his blistering start, with only one goal in the last seven league games, apart for the two games that he missed due to injury.
If the squad can step up, Don Carlo might just take the Toffees to the Champions League ahead of some big names.