Mina Winner Moves Everton Up To Second

What a week this has been.

Three wins from three matches for Everton, this latest one a gritty and deserved victory over Arsenal in front of supporters who gave their team a rousing reception at full-time, moves Carlo Ancelotti's team up to second in the Premier League table.

The scalps have been notable, too, this success following positive results against Chelsea and Leicester City.

Everton worked their socks off here, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin talismanic up front. The impression Everton have unearthed in a gem in Ben Godfrey gained further substance, too.

Calvert-Lewin had a significant hand in the opening goal after 22 minutes, his flick deflecting off Rob Holding and into the net.

Nicolas Pepe equalised from the spot but Yerry Mina's towering header on the stroke of half-time won it for Everton.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are five points off the top of the Premier League table.

Until Mason Holgate chose to advance down Everton’s right in the closing minute of the opening half, this contest seemed destined to be level at the break.

That would have been hard on the home team, who had made most of the running and been reeled back in out of the blue.

Holgate’s decision sparked a chain of events which meant the scoreline reflected what we’d seen over 45 minutes.

Calvert-Lewin received Holgate’s cut back in a central position about 25 yards form goal and gave Mohamed Elneny the slip before taking aim.

The striker’s crafted left-foot effort was clawed out of the top right corner by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, saving one handed.

Leno got a hand to Mina’s header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s subsequent corner, too, but in this instance the German’s touch was redundant.

Mina escaped in front of the near post and climbed above Eddie Nketiah to arc his neck and divert the ball on target.

Leno was on his heels and could only help the ball into the roof of his net.

The goal which put Everton ahead midway through the opening half was unwittingly scored by an Arsenal player but the consequence of purposeful home play nonetheless.

Tom Davies received a pass from Richarlison and shipped possession to Alex Iwobi, speedily making up ground on the right.

Iwobi was unmarked and had no defenders rushing to close him down.

The forward didn’t delay his delivery, however, locating Calvert-Lewin for a header which seemed to be travelling wide until it slammed into the thigh of Holding and beyond Leno.

There was a pleasingly spicy edge to this and that bite whipped up the Evertonians inside Goodison Park.

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01:47 Sat 19 Dec 2020


Striker praises Blues' 'nasty' side after 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Goodison.

Kieran Tierney exacted revenge on Calvert-Lewin after being audibly miffed at a challenge from the Everton player which sent the Scot sprawling.

The Arsenal left-back, it should be said, didn’t go looking for Calvert-Lewin.

It was just that the forward had already powered past Elneny and was threatening to do the same to Tierney right on the cusp of the visitors’ box.

Tierney was booked for his intervention and Sigurdsson thumped the free-kick into the wall, directing his follow up past Leno’s left post.

Elneny and midfield partner Dani Ceballos were taking it in turn to stand on Calvert-Lewin’s toes and try to cut supply to the focal point of Everton’s attack.

Calvert-Lewin was up for the challenge, though, and doing a lot of his best work outside the 18-yard box.

Sigurdsson was left in a heap by Elneny, who failed with an immediate attempt to do the same to Calvert-Lewin. 

Ben Godfrey, meanwhile, who had already demonstrated his lighting pace to thwart Pepe, slid into a juddering and well-timed tackle on Ceballos, which prompted the supporters behind Jordan Pickford’s goal to appreciatively jump to their feet in unison.

Davies slammed the door in Nketiah’s face as the striker tried an incursion into Everton’s box.

But the Everton midfielder would concede the penalty which brought Arsenal back on terms.

The away team’s only real chance until this point arrived when Nketiah screwed wide from a promising position following Tierney’s run and skilfully-executed pull-back.

They got their next opportunity after Davies tried to complete a clearance following Mina’s initial header, while unaware of Ainsley Maitland-Niles creeepng up over his shoulder.

The contact was minimal but it was penalty. No question.

Pepe rolled it inside Pickford’s right post.

Everton’s first attempt had come in unforeseen circumstances.

Michael Keane, again outstanding in the middle of Everton’s defence, was allowed to advance unchecked into Arsenal territory for a lusty 30-yard blast which sped past Leno’s right post.

Mina got in the way of a shot from Bukayo Saka soon after the restart.

But it was Luiz who surely thought he’d conjured Arsenal’s second equaliser.

Willian’s cross from the left was met by Pickford but the clearance landed at Luiz’s feet.

The Brazilian’s first-time strike popped up off the turf and raced through the legs of Abdoulaye Doucoure on its way to clattering the upright.

Those chances were indicative of an Arsenal side operating with renewed intent and Saka was too high with a free-kick after Richarlison was penalised for a challenge on Ceballos.

Everton responded with Godfrey’s first charge forwards.

The defender is fast, we know that much.

But to see him leaving the rapid Maitland-Niles trailing in a 60-yard footrace was to really grasp the extent of Godfrey’s pace.

His delivery was okay, too, but behind Calvert-Lewin, who couldn’t adjust to rein it in.

Maitland-Niles was looking at the back of Richarlison’s shirt next.

The defender resisted the urge to challenge as his opponent dashed into the box and Tierney got his team out of trouble by intercepting the pass intended for Iwobi.

Joe Willock, on for Elneny, couldn’t reach Saka’s cross-shot at the back post, moments after Keane experienced a similar outcome when straining to connect with Sigurdsson’s dipping free-kick.

Willock was involved in a lot after coming on, in fact. He would be booked in the first of five minutes of added time for upending the raiding Godfrey, after glancing a header wide from a right-wing cross.

He illegally bumped Calvert-Lewin off course in midfield, then flung out a leg to divert Iwobi’s 25-yard drive past the post after a Sigurdsson corner was only partially cleared.

Iwobi was replaced by Seamus Coleman, as Everton reverted to a back three for the closing seven minutes.

Jonjoe Kenny and Cenk Tosun followed in stoppage time, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin making way.

There were a few hairy moments to survive in the final knockings, Maitland-Niles flashing a delivery across the six-yard box and Pickford grateful a ball ricocheting off Keane's thigh span into the goalkeeper's gloves.

But Everton rode Arsenal's late surge to claim the win their gutsy and disciplined performance deserved.

Everton Find A Way

We’d played 15 minutes here before either side tried a shot.

That wait wasn’t an indictment of the ambition on show, Everton and Arsenal both positive in possession and trying to create angles but running into obdurate defences.

Michael Keane chanced his arm for that opening effort a quarter-hour in.

Carrying the ball forwards and discovering Arsenal oddly reluctant to close him down, the centre-back was emboldened by the cry at his back – Evertonians urging Keane to shoot – and cracked a strike from 30 yards which flew narrowly wide.

When Everton did grab the lead, it came from another attempt not initially on target.

The creation of the goal, however, was characteristic of Everton’s football in this busy week.

Richarlison sprung forwards from a solid base and carefully passed infield for Tom Davies, racing to join the attack.

Davies completed the left-to-right move with a ball for Alex Iwobi.

Like Keane before him, Iwobi found no Arsenal players in an any particular hurry to shut him down.

A previous cross following a neat passage of play was too close to Bernd Leno.

Undeterred, Iwobi struck this one early and that perhaps contributed to Rob Holding being caught off guard.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin got in front of the defender for a headed touch, which deflected off Holding’s thigh and beyond Leno.

Calvert-Lewin, in the mould of so many goalscorers, celebrated as if it was his own.

In that moment it felt as if Everton might disappear over the hill.

Arsenal’s penalty equaliser, then, could have sucked the wind out of a team scrapping round for results.

Everton, though, came into this following successive victories against two very good teams in Chelsea and Leicester City.

Those are the sorts of results that generate belief in a side and Everton didn’t take a backwards step.

Calvert-Lewin’s 25-yard effort forced Leno into an exceptional stop but the hosts wouldn’t be denied.

Sigurdsson’s corner was on the money and Yerry Mina expertly did the rest.

Everton Doing The Basics

A strange season with strange results is Carlo Ancelotti’s view on this current campaign.

Everton, though, have borrowed from a conventional playbook to piece together perhaps the most significant week of the manager’s reign.

Ancelotti’s side has defended with organisation, discipline and desire to gain wins over Chelsea, Leicester City and Arsenal.

They have sat relatively deep – employing a “low block”, as Ancelotti describes it – with full-backs Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate models of restraint.

Opponents suffocated on the flanks and seeking space infield have run into bodies closing and tackling.

It was a former Arsenal manager in Arsene Wenger who coined the phrase about playing with the handbrake on.

This isn’t what Everton have done over the past seven days.

They’ve maintained a very real threat raiding forwards, spurred on by the thrust of Alex Iwobi and Richarlison.

The balance craved by Ancelotti has been aided by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s ability to connect defence and attack and contribute on both counts.

For all football’s continual technical and tactical advances – and Ancelotti has been at the vanguard, as a manager winning the biggest prizes – there is still a lot to be said for more unfashionable virtues.

The return of supporters to Goodison Park has underlined that fact, with a well-timed tackle or 20-yard sprint to block a pass loudly appreciated.

Richarlison fending off Ainsley Maitland-Niles deep in his own half received a throaty roar from those populating the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End.

Everton’s hunger to do the dirty work is reflected in the statistic which showed them second highest of Premier League clubs for ball recoveries prior to this game.

Inside two minutes against Arsenal, Aboulaye Doucoure gobbled up a loose ball in midfield, leading to Everton’s first attack of note.

Everton played some terrific football but they had to scrap and fight.

Their character was evident in the convincing response to Arsenal’s equaliser and again when Mikel Arteta’s side, with nothing to lose, stepped up their pursuit of a second equaliser.

There was a bit of luck, too, when David Luiz struck a post.

But work hard and do the fundamentals with the enthusiasm Everton employed and you tend to find a friend in fortune.

DCL The Complete Package

This was a 150th Everton appearance for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

It is testament to the forward’s strike-rate this season that you’re surprised when his name isn’t on the scoresheet.

In the past week, however, we’ve seen evidence of the “growth and maturity” Calvert-Lewin mentioned prior to the game.

The 23-year-old has previously observed how in the eyes of others there was always something extra he could add to his game.

Well, increasingly, he appears to have the lot.

There were deft touches outside the box, one to return a ball on the volley to Richarlison was delicious.

His power and competitiveness we know about and those traits enable him to turn any ball directed his way into a good pass.

Calvert-Lewin resisted a forceful challenge to release Richarlison at 2-1 and a point in the match when Everton were under sustained pressure for the first time.

There was never any question he would be first to Iwobi’s 22nd-minute cross. The header was going wide but when you make life consistently difficult for defenders it can result in the type of break which went in Everton’s favour with Rob Holding’s deflection.

Calvert-Lewin gave two excellent defenders in Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma a night they’ll gladly forget last week.

It was a measure of his disruptive influence that Calvert-Lewin was fouled for one penalty and would have won another but for straying offside in the build-up.

He was equally effective at Leicester in midweek and denied a goal only by a stunning Kasper Schmeichel save.

Carlo Ancelotti has been at pains to point out, however, that a proper centre-forward has more strings to his bow than an ability to hit the net.

Calvert-Lewin, in Everton’s past three games, has done everything but – and been integral in his team claiming maximum points.