What’s that they say about not buying a ticket?
If you don’t part with your cash, there’s no hope of landing the big prize.
This game of few chances seemed destined to finish scoreless when Allan and Richarlison, Everton’s two Brazilians, combined to take a punt for their team.
Allan sent a ball travelling 50 yards through the air, aiming for Richarlison, who skilfully used his body to hold off Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka is playing out of position at left-back and for the first time Everton exploited the Swiss’ unease in the position.
Isolated against Richarlison, he didn’t have hope.
Richarlison breezed past, on into the area, to force a ball into the middle.
Bernd Leno, Arsenal’s goalkeeper, seemed to have the situation under control.
But the German couldn’t adjust his feet – and couldn’t believe what was unfolding – the ball hitting Leno on the heel and crossing the line.
Everton shut up shop – continuing the theme of the week – Carlo Ancelotti withdrawing James Rodriguez, then Richarlison, in favour of more defensive minds.
And when the final whistle blew, Everton had their first win at Arsenal since January 1996 – this their 27th attempt.
It was a first double over the Londoners since 1985/86. They won 1-0 away that year, too.
Equally, Everton have won 10 away games in a season for the first time since the title-winning campaign of 1986/87.
The most relevant number, however, is three – the points Everton add to their tally to close within three points of the Premier League’s top four.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was the width of the crossbar from putting Everton in front six minutes before half-time.
The midfielder, operating on the left of midfield after scoring twice from that position against Tottenham Hotspur last week, moved infield to collect a pass from Allan and transfer the ball forward, forcefully, for Richarlison.
Thomas Partey was on Richarlison’s tail but, losing a footrace, sent the Everton player tumbling.
Sigurdsson struck the free-kick, left of centre from 25 yards, making clean connection on an effort that dipped onto the top of the bar.
Sixty seconds later and Partey was heaving a sigh of relief, the Ghanaian hanging out a leg to trip James Rodriguez as Everton came again but escaping a second yellow card.
Lucas Digne’s free-kick thudded into the wall.
Sigurdsson was thwarted again when Everton made a very fast start to the second half.
The visitors had been tidy on the ball prior to half-time but were missing the speed and purpose to consistently discomfort Arsenal.
That changed when Richarlison turned James’s pass forwards for the overlapping Seamus Coleman, evading Xhaka, to steer a ball into the middle.
Sigurdsson‘s attempt was on target but deflected wide by Rob Holding, hurtling into the picture to block.
Truth be told, had Sigurdsson found the net, there was a call to make on whether Coleman was offside when Richarlison played the pass.
Neither side created a whole lot in the opening 45 minutes and Jordan Pickford didn’t have to make one save of note.
It wasn’t that Arsenal – intermittently roared on by a crowd assembled outside the Emirates Stadium following pre-match protests against the club’s American owner Stan Kroenke – didn’t have much of the ball.
Just that they were met by an all-blue roadblocked whenever they advanced.
Allan picked off passes in front of his defence and when the hosts went wide for a cross it was invariably an Everton head on the end of it.
If an Arsenal player reached the box, he was typically suffocated by a horde of blue shirts.
Ben Godfrey leapt to direct Calum Chambers’ second minute cross away from Eddie Nketiah.
And when Bukayo Saka reacted quickest to pounce on a clearance the ensuing shot was weak and directed straight at Everton goalkeeper Pickford.
Everton evidently fancied their chances down Arsenal’s right, Digne and Sigurdsson linking to probe and push.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, back following a two-game absence, beat Holding to a Digne cross after Sigurdsson squeezed a pass down the left, but sent the header past the near post.
Leno appeared to momentarily lose his bearings when Digne sent in another delivery but recovered in time to clutch a swerving ball.
It was a passage of play down the right, however, that opened up Arsenal for the first time.
Allan, progressively more ambitious with his distribution, slid a pass for Richarlison, who carried the ball beyond Pablo Mari and into the area.
Opening his body, Richarlison aimed for the far corner but was denied by a strong hand from Leno.
Calvert-Lewin following up was inches from seizing on the rebound.
Sigurdsson’s first free-kick of the night, swung in from the right, was well defended by Holding, who used his body to fend off Ben Godfrey.
Godfrey and Mason Holgate formed a rapid central defensive pairing, which allowed Everton to operate further upfield despite the speed merchants deployed across Arsenal’s frontline.
The two Yorkshiremen like a one-on-one duel, too, and both won their fair share.
Godfrey smothered Eddie Nketiah’s attempt to turn and shoot and there was a block from a Saka effort.
Allan’s next pass was dropped onto the feet of Coleman, who stormed past a trio of challenges before inviting Andre Gomes to shoot. Partey legitimately intervened in that instance, diverting the ball wide.
We reached 52 minutes without the VAR being asked for his input.
Then Dani Ceballos fell in the box, with Richarlison nearby.
Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot. But we never did discover if David Coote at Stockley Park agreed with the onfield official.
Nicolas Pepe had run marginally offside when Arsenal began their attack.
You don’t get one piece of VAR action in 52 minutes, then along come two at once.
Mari’s hands were pulled tight to his body when Richarlison’s cross hit the defender and for the second time the decision – correctly – was no penalty.
Chambers’ volleyed strike from Saka’s left wing free-kick crashed into the ground and over.
Arsenal now were making more of the running.
Pickford was tested for the first time in minute 66, flinging himself left to push out a Ceballos drive.
Delph came on for Gomes to end an absence stretching back to a game at Burnley on 5 December and within two minutes went in the book for a foul on Emile Smith Rowe.
Richarlison netted with a little help from Leno soon after. Ancelotti duly shut down the game, introducing Tom Davies and Yerry Mina.
And Everton expertly navigated their way home, defending strongly and indebted to Pickford for a one-handed stop that denied substitute Gabriel Martinelli deep into four minutes of added time.
There was the wait we have become accustomed to while the VAR checked whether Richarlison was offside when sprinting onto Allan’s pass.
Had the Brazilian gone early with the hip-wiggling celebration after seeing his low cross deflect in off Bernd Leno’s ankle?
No, he hadn’t, Richarlison’s joy was well-placed.
It’s that time of year when we vote for all kinds of awards and this isn’t making anybody’s shortlist for goal of the season.
Not for its aesthetics, at any rate.
In terms of its importance, we’ll discover that in the fullness of time. But this scruffy goal, with 14 minutes remaining of an arm wrestle of a game, breathed fresh life into Everton’s season.
Allan was ambitious with his pass – a consistent feature from the South American, here – and got his rewards.
Granit Xhaka, out of position at left-back, didn’t much fancy being exposed to Richarlison’s speed and close control and was easily outfoxed by the forward.
Still, it appeared Leno had Richarlison’s cross low ball covered, only for the German to get himself in an awful tangle and turn into his own net.
It was the decisive episode on a night when neither goalkeeper was especially troubled.
And we might come to reflect on it in similar terms in the context of Everton’s European ambitions.
When Dominic Calvert-Lewin ran towards his own goal to receive possession early in this game he was pursued every step of the way by Pablo Mari.
Arsenal’s Spanish defender was uncompromising, snapping at Calvert-Lewin’s heels as the ball arrived with the Everton player.
Everton got the free-kick deep in their own territory – but the moment was relevant because it pointed to the home team’s determination to cage Calvert-Lewin.
If anything, it had an effect similar to poking a stick through the railings, prompting the striker to stir.
Within 60 seconds, Calvert-Lewin darted in front of Rob Holding but headed past the near post after meeting Lucas Digne’s cross.
Calum Chambers followed the Mari blueprint, leaving his full-back position unattended, enabling Digne to skip forwards into space after Calvert-Lewin resisted Chambers to lay-off for Gylfi Sigurdsson to play the pass.
A third Arsenal defender in Holding couldn’t lay a glove on Calvert-Lewin when the forward positioned himself between man and ball to back-heel to Andre Gomes.
If Calvert-Lewin’s hold-up play has come on a bundle in the past 18 months, his movement off the ball gets better all the time, too.
There were runs beyond Arsenal’s backline that went unnoticed but the 24-year-old never became discouraged.
His speed and threat in behind forced Arsenal’s centre-halves to remain deep and created space in the middle of the pitch.
Calvert-Lewin reminded us of his value in his own box, too, winning headers at his near post-station on Arsenal set-pieces.
10 Of The Best
Everton have won 10 times away from home this season and there is a strong argument for this victory at Arsenal as the best of the lot.
It ended a quarter-century wait for a win in this corner of north London for starters.
But Everton have consigned other unwanted records to the dustbin in 2020/21.
They’d not won at Tottenham Hotspur since November 2008 – a run of 12 matches at three different venues – before starting this campaign by defeating the capital team in their own back yard.
Victory across Stanley Park was long overdue when it arrived back in February, too.
But had Everton left Spurs and Liverpool with nothing, there would have been other days.
A chance to make good next time out, in terms of league points.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side came to Arsenal with their entire campaign on a knife-edge, knowing clear daylight would have separated them from the European positions had they lost.
With games running out, this was a fixture without a safety net.
Everton avoided a painful landing, winning to move onto the coattails of the teams occupying the European qualifying positions – and prevent Arsenal climbing above them into eighth.
Everton had only four draws to show for their past 26 attempts to win away against Arsenal – 11 at Highbury, 15 at the Gunners’ current Emirates Stadium home – their last victory coming in January 1996.
This was another piece of history rewritten under Ancelotti, then, a success crafted by staring down the pressure accompanying a crucial match.
Anything other than three points and Everton would have required snookers, in need of a near-flawless run-in and serious wobbles elsewhere.
This was a big result on opposition territory when they needed it most.