Classic Encounters: Arsenal

@Everton

It was a game that changed the course of Everton’s season and Ronald Koeman will be hoping that once again proves the case when his Everton side host Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

On a perfect night under the floodlights at the Grand Old Lady last December, it all came together for Koeman’s men.

There was intensity, fire, pressing, fluid movement and a passion that ultimately inspired the Toffees to come from behind to record an all-important 2-1 victory over the Gunners.

Having conceded first to Alexis Sanchez’s heavily-deflected free-kick, the Toffees responded with gusto and grabbed the equaliser from Seamus Coleman on the stroke of half-time.

Ashley Williams then picked an opportune moment to net his first goal in Everton colours, climbing highest to head home Ross Barkley’s corner to send Goodison into raptures with just four minutes remaining.

It was Everton’s second victory in 11 games and after a cruel last-gasp defeat in the Merseyside derby six days later, Everton went on to go nine games unbeaten to open up a gap from seventh to the chasing pack by the end of February.

It wasn’t the only memorable clash with the Gunners from over the years.

From Dixie Dean’s 60th league goal in a season, to Wayne Rooney’s first professional goal for the Blues, there have been a raft of thrilling moments from clashes between the two sides since the first meeting in April 1905.

We’ve picked out some of those below.

4DixieDean

Everton 3-0 Arsenal - 5 May 1928 

Middlesbrough’s George Camsell scored a staggering 59 Football League goals in 1926/27, a tally most thought would not be bettered for many years, if ever.

But it was. In fact, it lasted just one season, thanks to Everton’s greatest ever goalscorer, William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean.

Dixie didn’t do it the easy way, though. And, partly owing to a ‘drought’ of three games without a goal and missing three games through injury earlier in the season, he required seven goals from the Blues’ final two games of the 1927/28 campaign to break the record.

Four goals in a 5-3 away win over Burnley on the penultimate day of the term kept the dream alive.

A total of 48,715 supporters then packed out Goodison Park on the final day to watch Thomas McIntosh’s newly-crowned champions face Arsenal, knowing Dixie faced the daunting prospect of scoring a hat-trick to set a new record.

It was a frantic opening.

Arsenal opened the scoring inside two minutes, before Dixie equalised seconds after the restart.

In the sixth minute, Dixie was fouled inside the penalty area and brushed himself down to convert from the spot to equal Camsell’s record with plenty of time remaining.

The Gunners hit the front with two goals in reply and, as the second half wore on, Dixie’s dream was fading away.

But then, with just eight minutes left on the clock, Alec Troup whipped in a corner and who else but Dixie was there to head home for his 60th league goal of the campaign.

Three earlier strikes in the FA Cup that season meant the legendary striker had bagged 63 goals in just 41 appearances.

4Clarke

Arsenal 0-1 Everton - 28 March 1987

Blighted by injuries throughout the season, Everton headed into March three points adrift of league leaders Liverpool but a sequence of seven consecutive victories following the arrival of Wayne Clarke saw Howard Kendall’s side leapfrog their neighbours and clinch the title.

Clarke’s defining moment and the Toffees most eye-catching result in that run came in a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Highbury on 28 March.

The all-important goal came from a perfectly-placed long range strike from Clarke, who picked his spot from 35 yards out after goalkeeper John Lukic had miscued a clearance under pressure from Adrian Heath.

In total, Clarke netted five goals in 10 games for Everton that season, helping the Club to their ninth league crown.

4Heath

Everton 6-1 Arsenal - 9 November 1985

Gary Lineker and Adrian Heath struck a brace apiece as an injury-hit Everton side dismantled Arsenal at Goodison Park.

The Blues opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a stunning length-of-the-field move that was started by Gary Stevens, helped on by Graeme Sharp’s deft header and finished with an emphatic left foot shot by Lineker.

Lineker doubled his tally for the afternoon six minutes before the interval, lashing home after John Lukic failed to hold Kevin Sheedy’s free-kick.

Heath notched his first of the game after pinching possession on the halfway line before firing into the corner after David O’Leary wasn’t able to deal with Sharp’s low cross.

Trevor Steven put the result beyond all doubt six minutes into the second period, converting from the penalty spot following a foul by Paul Davis on Heath.

Heath was there again to record in Everton’s fifth goal in simple fashion from Steven’s low cross, before Sharp put away Sheedy’s cross to complete the rout.

4Rooney

Everton 2-1 Arsenal - 19 October 2002 

A 16-year-old Wayne Rooney produced a moment of brilliance in the last minute to end Arsenal's 30-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Rooney came off the bench to score his first ever league goal and inflict Arsenal's first away defeat in 24 league matches.

The Gunners’ unbeaten run looked set to remain intact when Freddie Ljungberg capitalised on a defensive error to give Arsene Wenger’s side an early lead.

But Tomasz Radzinski levelled proceddings in the 22nd minute.

It was Radzinski who would be replaced by the eventual match winner with 10 minutes remaining.

It would take something special to overcome Arsene Wenger’s star-studded side - and Rooney’s strike was just that, a stunning 30-yard effort that flashed past David Seaman and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

That goal saw the Croxteth-born forward replace Michael Owen as the Premier League’s youngest ever goalscorer at 16 years and 360 days.

4AJ

Everton 1-0 Arsenal - 18 March 2007

Andy Johnson's injury-time goal ensured a dramatic victory as hailstones battered down on Goodison Park.

Johnson, who had typically grafted throughout the game, clinically pounced on his first real opportunity of the game, thumping a left-footed half volley past goalkeeper Jens Lehman after the visitors failed to clear Mikel Arteta’s corner.  

The Blues had twice struck the woodwork beforehand, with Lee Carsley driving a first-half effort against the post and Leon Osman hitting the frame with a shot after the restart.

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