Keane Explains Key Factors In Crucial Everton Win

Michael Keane says a “back-to-basics” approach, wedded to the unequivocal backing of Goodison Park, was responsible for Everton’s uplifting come-from-behind win over Arsenal on Monday.

Entering the game following a fallow period, questions were raised over the level of support Rafa Benitez’s team would receive for the Gunners’ visit.

The answer was emphatic, Evertonians uniting behind their side and generating an inhospitable environment for Arsenal, even after Mikel Arteta’s team landed the first blow shortly before half-time.

Everton responded on the field, undeterred by two disallowed ‘goals’ – calls so tight they could viably have knocked the stuffing out of the players on the wrong end of them – and summoning a grandstand finish to claim three valuable points.

Richarlison headed in an equaliser on 79 minutes and, with the game moving into stoppage time, Demarai Gray stepped up to clatter a winning goal in off the post.

Manager Benitez’s side climbed four places to 12th and back within sight of the Premier League’s upper reaches.

“I thought the lads were brilliant and the fans were outstanding, they got right behind us,” said Everton centre-half Keane.

“We have been on a bad run and for them to stick with us like they have, to give us the support they showed, was unbelievable.

“They got behind the lads all game, from start to finish, every tackle and every shot.

“Even when we went one down, they stayed behind us and it makes a huge difference.

“We respond to that and they respond to us playing well and fighting hard.

“We worked really hard to a man. We trained well leading up to the game and had a good feeling going into it.

“We had a few things thrown at us, disallowed goals and Arsenal scoring right before half-time.

“When you are in a bad run, you go back to basics.

Michael Keane
We have been on a bad run and for them [Evertonians] to stick with us like they have, to give us the support they showed, was unbelievable.

“We were solid and hard to break down and created chances on the counter-attack.

“We looked dangerous and the main thing was believing we were going to win the game.

“The lads kept going and dug deep and we are really happy and relieved to get a win.”

Keane has been on the field for every minute of Everton’s seesaw Premier League campaign.

The Englishman, capped 12 times by his country, ranks highly in multiple top-flight defensive categories.

His 37 interceptions is second highest in the division and he is seventh for clearances with 64.

Keane has won 45 aerial battles, a total surpassed by only four Premier League defenders, and he is fifth highest in the competition overall for headed clearances (35).

He has made 15 blocks, the sixth highest figure of any player in the league.

Keane’s passing is a strong suit, too, and he struck seven accurate long balls against Arsenal, more than any other outfield player, as Everton progressively asserted themselves on the contest.

Manager Benitez injected thrust into Everton’s pursuit of a leveller by sending on Andre Gomes, the Portuguese midfielder returning from a calf problem that precluded his involvement for 11 weeks from late September.

“We knew in the changing room we had the ability to win the game and it is good to have some of the lads coming back from injuries," said Keane.

“We are getting near a full squad and you can see the difference that makes.

“Andre was brilliant when he came on – it is great to have players of his quality coming back.”

Arsenal reacted to Everton’s equaliser with a wave of pressure but the hosts resisted to set the stage for Gray’s decisive contribution.

“It is always difficult when you are away from home and winning and concede late,” said Keane of Arsenal’s dilemma, “you don’t know whether to take the point or go for it.

“The five minutes after we equalised, they had quite a bit of the ball. 

“We knew if we won possession, we would counter and create chances.

“We had to stay solid.

“The mentality changes when you score a goal.

“We had the fans right behind us and the place was bouncing.

“Momentum was with us and, thankfully, Dimi scored a top goal.

“Hopefully, we are on the right path and can keep this up.”