Everton ease past Arsenal to go second

Everton's English defender Michael Keane reacts after the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Everton's English defender Michael Keane reacts after the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Yesterday afternoon at Goodison Park Everton beat Arsenal 2-1 to move up to second place in the Premier League and give Carlo Ancelotti a welcome anniversary present.

Everton went into this game hoping to maintain the excellent winning run they have been on after wins against Chelsea and away at Leicester City.

They were facing an Arsenal team struggling for form and lacking confidence with manager Mikel Arteta under pressure.

Ancelotti had a selection decision to make after Allan’s injury in the defeat of Leicester. Would he stick with the same eleven or bring in someone new into midfield?

In the end the Blues boss decided to select Tom Davies in midfield alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure and Gylfi Sigurdsson. He also brought back goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as well.

The home team began reasonably well and were on top of a poor Arsenal side who showed little in the first half to threaten the Toffees goal. In truth the Blues looked a little tired and there wasn’t much action in either penalty area.

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Everton though took a deserved lead when Gunners defender Rob Holding deflected an effort from the superb Dominic Calvert-Lewin past his goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

The Blues generally controlled the rest of the first half content to concede possession as they had in the previous two matches. While In the midfield Doucoure was terrific again.

Then in a rare Arsenal attack Davies fouled Ainsley Maitland-Niles with a lazy foul similar to Andre Gomes against Leicester. Unlike that game, this time the penalty was given and Arsenal’s £72 million man, Pepe scored from the spot.

But the Toffees weren’t adversely affected and before halftime restored their lead when Yerry Mina, who also had an outstanding day, rose superbly to head home a corner.

In the second half Arsenal were better, there was a bit more urgency from them and gradually Everton began to drop back and defend deeper.

But they were defending very well. Once again the back four that has been playing since the Chelsea game were rock solid. Ben Godfrey at left-back was again outstanding – if he keeps playing this well even Lucas Digne might have a fight to get his place back!

They were a few more chances in the match, but although Arsenal did hit the post they didn’t really ever look like getting an equalizer and a tiring Toffees team held on for the win.

So nine points from three quick games in succession is a fantastic return from a run of fixtures that looked very challenging a week and half ago.

The Blues went second in the table with that result, at least until today’s games and Ancelotti had a victory on his first anniversary as manager of Everton Football Club. While it wasn’t a fantastic performance, in this tough period of relentless games it is results that matter and so it could hardly have been a better afternoon.