Phil Jagielka’s 10th-minute goal earned Everton a rousing Goodison Park win over Arsenal – and banked the Blues' third Premier League success on the spin.
Everton shut out Arsenal, too, for a third clean sheet on the bounce. It was also the third time in a row Everton have prevented a side currently in the top six from scoring at Goodison.
Defender Jagielka was only playing as a very late replacement for Michael Keane, the England centre-back ruled out by illness shortly before kick-off.
The 36-year-old’s strike won’t make the showreel for any end-of-season DVDs but the simplicity of its execution should not detract from the calibre of football which preceded it.
Bernard was the orchestrator of a move launched in the home team’s half, the Brazilian finding Gylfi Sigurdsson and then advancing into Arsenal territory.
Sigurdsson fed Lucas Digne who, in turn, located Bernard for a cross that was cleared by Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal’s reprieve, however, would be brief.
Digne hurled in the throw, Jagielka darting to the near post and flicking into a crowded six-yard box. Dominic Calvert-Lewin careered in, intent on making contact and succeeding, the ball redirected into the feet of Jagielka who turned it over the line for his first Premier League goal since April 2017.
Arsenal had actually started in aggressive mode, Matteo Guendouzi booked for leaving something on Digne in a firm tackle – and Alexandre Lacazette forced to drag a shot across goal by the presence of Kurt Zouma, quickly eating up ground to cover as the visitors broke down Everton’s right.
Everton’s goal altered the feel of the contest entirely. Striker Calvert-Lewin was winning everything sent his way in the air and generally bullying a nervous-looking Arsenal back three.
Bernard, meanwhile, delved into his box of tricks, one flick opening up Arsenal on the right, another silky piece of footwork flooring Gunners’ wing-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Andre Gomes pinged a pass 40 yards to the right for Richarlison which drew away the breath – the Portuguese having previously rifled off target with his left foot from 20 yards.
Calvert-Lewin was prevented from getting on the end of Richarlison’s cross – after the forwards’s original headed flick released the South American – by a smart piece of defending from Sokratis Papastathopolous.
For all Everton’s crisp passing and clever movement, it was the tenacity and application of Marco Silva’s players which really had the Goodison crowd off its collective seat.
Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno firing a clearance out of play under significant pressure from Calvert-Lewin generated a ginormous roar.
Bernard retreating into his own box to block Maitland-Niles’ low effort had an equally galvanising effect. And in the second half Richarlison was 40 yards from his own goal when he slid in to disrupt Mesut Ozil's flow.
Leno saved comfortably from Gylfi Sigurdsson seven minutes before half-time.
But Everton, at this stage, were quicker of mind and foot. Nacho Monreal was rooted after conceding a free-kick for impeding Richarlison, the Everton player spying his opponent catching 40 winks and speeding off to receive Sigurdsson’s free-kick.
Sokratis bailed out his side with a sliding intervention.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery sent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the break, Aaron Ramsey, too. And the Welshman miscued a volley wide following Jordan Pickford’s punch clear minutes after his arrival.
The double-change – Kolaisnac and Mohamed Elneny the men withdrawn – brought about a change of shape for the Gunners, Emery rejigging to a back four and sticking Ramsey in the middle of the park next to Guendouzi.
Ramsey was the one with licence to advance and he drilled past the near post after Arsenal recycled a right-wing corner on the opposite side of the pitch.
Sigurdsson took aim 10 minutes after the break, his 25-yarder dipping too late to test Leno – the Icelander off target again on 64 minutes when he skewed over after Seamus Coleman’s cross was only partially cleared.
There were chances at either end just before the hour. Bernard wriggled free of Maitland-Niles but fast ran out of space and was unable to chip the advancing Leno. Moments earlier, Mustafi landed a raking pass on the head of Lacazette but the forward’s connection was tame, enabling Pickford to make an easy claim.
Idrissa Gana Gueye had a shot close down by Ozil, one of the Premier League’s most unlikely episodes this term, surely.
And Richarlison, who linked beautifully with Coleman on Everton’s right, whipped a strike beyond Leno’s right post.
Everton were lowering the hammer again with 20 minutes remaining. Sokratis diverted another Sigurdsson blast wide.
Arsenal countered for Mkhitaryan to send an effort scooting past the upright – but, before long, Sigurdsson and Leno were renewing their personal duel, the ‘keeper scooping up a low strike after Richarlison’s run and cut back.
Next from Sigurdsson was another crack repelled by Sokratis, Richarlison skewing wide on the follow up. Theo Walcott, on for Richarlison, fed Bernard to bring out another stop from Leno. And Walcott had a close-range thump deflected off target as the clock wound down on a closing period when Bernard and Sigurdsson made way to huge ovations – Ademola Lookman and Tom Davies coming on as Marco Silva refused to cough up Everton's ascendancy.
Davies had a drive blocked late in the piece, the hosts actually looking the more likely to score during five minutes of stoppage time.
Three deserved points lift Everton one place to ninth and within one point of seventh-placed Leicester City.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in direct competition with three centre-backs, here, and it would be reasonable to suggest Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Nacho Monreal will be might relived to see the back of this centre-forward for another season.
Calvert-Lewin terrorised Arsenal with his running and physicality. Ian Wright, one of English football's finest exponents of the striking art and watching from the Goodison Park press box ,was drooling over Calvert-Lewin’s performance.
No defender in red and white was free to clear the ball without the 22-year-old in close attendance, using his hulking frame to back in and knock his opponents from their stride.
One header in the opening half, when Calvert-Lewin hung in the air for an age to flick on for Richarlison, was majestic in its making.
A more rudimentary piece of play, Calvert-Lewin getting after Bernd Leno and forcing the Arsenal goalkeeper into a desperate clearance, had Goodison Park on its feet.
Greece international Sokratis, in particular, was being stretched to the end of his tether by the former Sheffield United forward – who had eight goals in 17 starts this term before today.
Calvert-Lewin was escaping the centre-back’s clutches again and bidding to streak onto a through ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson when Sokratis wrestled his man to the ground, accepting the yellow card as an alternative preferable to trying to keep pace with the striker.
Calvert-Lewin’s running behind consistently stretched Arsenal. His ability to drop and knit together play spoke to a footballer who is maturing into the type of number 9 he is not afraid of saying he wants to be.
This is a player who was predominantly asked to operate from wide when his Everton career was in its embryonic phase.
That experience, perhaps, has helped mould the performer who, operating in his preferred position, had far too much in his armoury for Arsenal to handle.
Mustafi became the second of that chastened Arsenal defensive trio to go in the book for felling Calvert-Lewin, the German unable to make capital on a 20-yard head start and losing a foot race with his opponent before downing him with a cynical trip. Fair to conclude, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is getting better and better.
Phil Jagielka would have travelled to Goodison Park on Sunday morning anticipating a watching brief here.
The 36-year-old’s battlefield promotion, then, after Michael Keane was laid low by illness shortly before kick-off, would have come as something of a surprise.
If he didn’t expect to be lining up for Everton – nearly six weeks after his most recent outing, at Cardiff City – then Jagielka would much less have envisaged himself becoming the Premier League’s oldest scorer this season.
Indeed, this was a first top-flight strike for Everton’s captain since a goal against Burnley on April 15, 2017.
What a luxury for Everton that they could summon the former England international once Keane was struck down.
A 40-cap England international in his 12th season at Goodison Park, Jagielka is proficient in managing a Premier League match with minimum fuss – regardless of his opposition.
Certainly, the sight of Arsenal’s lightning centre-forward Alexandre Lacazette did nothing to disturb Jagielka’s equilibrium.
The Everton player consistently used his body to ease the Frenchman out of the picture. Jagielka similarly moved his frame across Henrikh Mkhitaryan when the Armenian tried to advance onto a threaded pass midway through the first half.
By this stage, Everton had their noses in front, courtesy of Jagielka’s predatory strike.
The defender won the original ball into the box – a throw tossed in from the left by Lucas Digne – and stayed alert.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin steamed in to connect with his head and keep the ball alive in Arsenal’s six-yard box where Jagielka reacted quickest to steer in.
He celebrated in understated manner, remaining faithful to his old-fashioned values.
There was a nod to modern times in the orange boots on Jagielka’s feet. He used the right one expertly to swipe out a low cross from Sead Kolasinac just past the half-hour. Jagielka's calming presence was just the ticket on the odd occasion Arsenal threatened to generate any momentum after half-time, too. It was a tremendous effort from Jagielka. And if it surprised him, then his talismanic performance would have shocked nobody watching on.
Share And Share Alike
Marco Silva was understandably pleased when both Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson netted their 12th Premier League goals of the campaign to earn Everton victory over Chelsea last month.
It is important to start sharing around the goals, though, cautioned Everton’s manager.
And after Kurt Zouma and Bernard were on target last week, Phil Jagielka added his name to the Blues’ list of scorers for this campaign against Arsenal.
Factor in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s wonderful header at Newcastle United and Everton have had six different goalscorers in their past four matches.
Silva’s side is threatening from all over the pitch, now, denying opponents the comfort of knowing they need only stop a couple of players to blunt Everton.
Calvert-Lewin, Bernard and Sigurdsson all worked Leno, while there were attempts on goal from Andre Gomes and Idrissa Gana Gueye. More reason for cheer on a balmy Goodison Park afternoon.