Arsenal v Everton: Five Things We Learned

Two goals in four second-half minutes may have proved Everton’s undoing at Emirates Stadium on Sunday but the scoreline only tells part of the story. 

Here we assess some of the key talking points from the Blues' latest Premier League outing…


RICHARLISON PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF

Richarlison may have missed Everton’s previous three games through suspension but his goalscoring form for Brazil during that period of absence offered hope the 21-year-old would arrive at the Emirates like a coiled spring and with none of the momentum lost from his early-season form. 

He may not have added to the three goals he netted in his first three outings for the Club but his value to the Blues was evident from the very first whistle. 

Playing off the left-hand side but never afraid to cut in at an Arsenal defence evertontv commentator Graham Stuart had identified as being “there to be got at”, the forward was a constant menace to the Gunners backline and had them visibly shaken every time he threatened to charge. 

His most damaging run, just before the interval, left Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka trailing in his wake, with only man of the match Petr Cech coming to Arsenal’s rescue and denying the former Watford man a fine solo goal. 

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COURAGEOUS KEANE

The bandage wrapped around his head was a constant reminder but, from his performance at the Emirates, you would never have guessed Michael Keane was returning from a fractured skull. 

The England international was willing to put his head wherever it was required - making a number of defensive clearances at one end and almost pulling a goal back for the Blues at the other with a glancing downward effort midway through the second half. Unfortunately for the centre-back, like Richarlison, he found Cech in inspired form. 

That Keane was thrust straight back into the side said much of his own positive start to the campaign and the trust he has built in the mind of his new manager. 

His seamless transition back into first-team life was illustrated by his eight clearances and two interceptions, while the one and only foul he gave away across the entire 90 minutes was 100 yards away from the Everton goal, deep inside the Arsenal penalty box. 

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RUTHLESSNESS REQUIRED 

“The result is really disappointing and didn’t reflect, in my opinion, what I saw on the pitch. 

“But at this level we have to be more effective. In our last game, without a good performance, we created clear, clear chances and more than our opponent to achieve a different result. 

“This afternoon, our performance was good and we created chances from the first minute until the last minute. But we have to score more.”

Marco Silva could - and did - point to the performance, commitment and character shown by his players at the Emirates as positives to draw from the trip to the capital. 

He could also justifiably have blamed the absence of an offside flag when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poked in Arsenal’s second for condemning the Blues to defeat. 

However, the Portuguese instead reiterated a point he had made following the previous week’s defeat against West Ham United - his side need to sharpen their killer instinct. 

As Phil Neville suggested in his BBC column, the finishing was “the only real difference between the two sides full stop".

Encouragingly, creativity wasn’t the issue for Silva’s side. The Toffees mustered 10 shots on goal and six on target - one more than their hosts in each category - while the blank was also the first drawn by Everton in seven matches this term. 

However, Silva knows his side could have been well in front by the time Arsenal's suckerpunch landed and that his charges need to increase their ruthlessness in the final third - starting against Fulham on Saturday. 

“We’ve had two bad results and it’s hard,” added Silva. “But I’ve told the players we need to rest now, analyse the match and then work hard because we need to change this next week with the support of our fans at home.”

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PRESS TO IMPRESS  

Silva could have been forgiven for changing his approach in north London, for asking his side to drop deeper and respect opponents who generally reign supreme on home soil and will very much see themselves as contenders for Champions League qualification this season. 

Instead, it was notable how the Blues took the game to their hosts, wobbled the Gunners defence with their high pressing and generally looked to adhere to the style Silva has been imparting on his team since day one of pre-season way back in July. 

Being able to reclaim possession in dangerous territory and then call upon players with the pace and athleticism of Walcott, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison created first-half opportunities that on another, more clinical day may have changed the complexion of the entire contest. 

It wasn’t to be on Sunday but the evidence was there to suggest Everton do have the armoury - and approach - to hurt the best teams around.


GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM

The next step, Silva knows, is to take that threat to the top teams and turn it into a tangible points return.

The homes of the so-called top six have not been happy hunting grounds for Everton in recent seasons but Silva saw enough from his side at the Emirates to suggest that could be about to change.

At the very least, he reasoned, they should take optimism from the way they were able to rattle Unai Emery’s men before falling to that quick-fire second-half double.

“We knew before the match how difficult it has been here for Everton,” he said. “But it’s our way how our team played this afternoon - the intensity against a strong side - and [the performance] gives us some optimism.

“Of course, the result is disappointing and, in the end, the most important thing is the result, always.

“But we have to have confidence behind us, work with that confidence and believe in ourselves.”

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