Sean Dyche’s first game in charge of Everton saw his new side beat Premier League leaders Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park.
The Toffees dented the Gunners’ title hopes with a spirited and deserved victory on Saturday afternoon.
Despite Arsenal’s early dominance, the first half-sight of goal came through a deflected strike from Dwight McNeil on the counter attack, with Aaron Ramsdale racing off his line to beat Dominic Calvert-Lewin to the loose ball.
Everton caused Arsenal a couple of problems with deep corners inside the opening 20 minutes, with Amadou Onana and James Tarkowski both having headers deflected behind.
Calvert-Lewin’s strike from a tight angle and Onana’s audacious lob from 35 yards were both denied by Ramsdale as the hosts continued to ramp up the pressure.
Arsenal’s first chance of note came when Bukayo Saka managed to wrestle away from Vitaliy Mykolenko and tee up Eddie Nketiah, who sold Tarkowski with a clever feint towards the byline, but fired high and wide from close range.
Everton should have taken the lead when Onana made the most of a mix-up between Ben White and Martin Odegaard, firing a cross right through the six-yard box, but Calvert-Lewin could only get a toe on the ball and a glorious chance went begging.
Seconds later, McNeil’s cross was met by a free Abdoulaye Doucoure, but the ball flashed off his forehead and Arsenal were let off the hook once more.
Conor Coady was on hand to block a volley from Saka off the line before a Calvert-Lewin header from Alex Iwobi’s clever cross bounced just the wrong side of the post at the end of a frenzied first half.
Arsenal looked more like their usual selves after the break. Nketiah managed to work his way from the left channel and into the box, cutting back for Odegaard to fire agonisingly over the bar.
But Everton took the lead just after the hour mark. Another deep corner from McNeil was this time met by Tarkowski, who fought off the challenge of Odegaard to head home the opener.
Appeals for an Arsenal penalty were dismissed when Neal Maupay and Idrissa Gueye were cleared of bringing down Gabriel inside the box, though replays suggested the Frenchman may have tripped the Gunners defender.
Pickford was on hand to deny a deflected strike from Leandro Trossard as Arsenal looked to pull level in the latter stages. Saka’s half-volley sailed into the gleeful crowd behind the goal soon after.
Trossard once more drifted in from the left and curled a shot in with his right foot, though this time it sailed high and wide.
With six minutes of stoppage time looming, Oleksandr Zinchenko twice let fly from 25 yards but both of his speculative shots flew over the top to eat up the clock a little more.
Everton held on to secure the three points to move out of the relegation places. Arsenal’s lead at the top will be cut to two points if Manchester City beat Tottenham on Sunday.
GK: Jordan Pickford – 7/10 – Kept his cool and marshalled his defence well. Made some decent saves down the stretch.
RB: Seamus Coleman – 6/10 – Was given very simple instructions – get rid of the ball as soon as possible.
CB: James Tarkowski – 8/10 – Has flattered to deceive this season but came up trumps here at both ends of the pitch.
CB: Conor Coady – 8/10 – Composed with every challenge he made. Snuffed out danger excellently.
LB: Vitaliy Mykolenko – 6/10 – Often misused as a wing-back by Frank Lampard and could instead focus on defending here.
CM: Idrissa Gueye – 7/10 – Broke up play well and was alert with his pressing.
CM: Amadou Onana – 9/10 – The heartbeat of Everton’s midfield. Won the ball back before leading charges forward.
CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6/10 – Understandably looked rusty on his return to the fold but made up for it with effort and superb carrying out of Dyche’s orders.
RW: Alex Iwobi – 8/10 – Popped up on both flanks as well as in midfield and tended to make excellent decisions, combining his experience with characteristic flair and ingenuity.
CF: Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 7/10 – Worked ever so hard leading the line, putting himself up against Gabriel and Saliba. Shooting boots were missing but he provided everything else.
LW: Dwight McNeil – 7/10 – Everton sometimes relied on him too much to cross but ultimately that outlet proved fruitful.
Neal Maupay (62′ for Calvert-Lewin) – 5/10
Sean Dyche – 8/10 – The perfect start. Everton played like a team who should be much, much higher up the table.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 7/10 – Kept Arsenal alive with a string of good saves.
RB: Ben White – 4/10 – Such a careless performance from a player who’s registered so many flawless ones this season.
CB: William Saliba – 5/10 – Sometimes guilty of giving the ball away cheaply, particularly under pressure.
CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – The slightly more solid of Arsenal’s centre-backs. Unfortunate not to have won a penalty.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 6/10 – Kept his composure and poise in possession when so many of his teammates didn’t.
CM: Thomas Partey – 4/10 – Pressed into oblivion by Everton’s aggressive midfield and was hooked after an hour.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 5/10 – Failed to keep his cool in the midfield battle while also couldn’t pick the lock further up the pitch.
RM: Bukayo Saka – 6/10 – Everton threw lots of double-teams at Saka, who managed to carve out as much as he possibly could in such circumstances.
AM: Martin Odegaard – 4/10 – Timid in and out of possession. At fault for the goal. Subbed before the finish.
LM: Gabriel Martinelli – 4/10 – Kept his head down and ran into plenty of dead-ends. Understandably replaced by Trossard.
CF: Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Found it hard to keep himself relevant in the game for long stretches. Looked sharp when he did receive the ball but that wasn’t enough.
Jorginho (59′ for Partey) – 5/10
Leandro Trossard (59′ for Martinelli) – 5/10
Fabio Vieira (77′ for Odegaard) – 5/10
Takehiro Tomiyasu (85′ for White) – N/A
Mikel Arteta – 5/10 – Arsenal were off the pace and crumbled under the Goodison Park pressure, but Arteta at least tried different things to try and get his side back into the game. The Gunners’ failures were largely down to individual errors or strange decision-making.