Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Arsenal 2-1 Everton: Gunners fall short despite last-gasp win

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 May 2024

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Kai Havertz scored a late winner but Arsenal fell short in the Premier League title race despite beating Everton 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners needed to win to stand any chance of beating Manchester City to the title, and for a long time it looked as though Mikel Arteta’s side would not hold up their end of the bargain on Sunday.

Takehiro Tomiyasu swiftly cancelled out Idrissa Gueye’s opener in the first half, though a combination of the woodwork and some fine goalkeeping from Jordan Pickford kept Arsenal at bay until the 89th minute, when Havertz tucked in following Ashley Young’s error.

But with City beating West Ham in Manchester, the Gunners ultimately finished two points behind Pep Guardiola’s team, who sealed an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.

Arsenal were well on top early on – Tomiyasu failing to direct a header on target after he was picked out by Declan Rice, who was subsequently denied by his England team-mate Pickford.

As news filtered through of an early goal for Man City against West Ham, Pickford was at his best to deny Gabriel Martinelli, who was in for the injured Bukayo Saka.

Having weathered the storm, Everton almost took the lead on the half-hour mark – Dominic Calvert-Lewin seeing a crisp strike clatter the left-hand post.

Yet Everton had their goal in the 40th minute, as Gueye’s free-kick deflected off Rice and looped in beyond David Raya.

Their advantage was short-lived, though, with Tomiyasu atoning for his earlier miss as he lashed home from inside the area, with that goal coinciding with news of West Ham getting one back against Man City, and a huge roar of encouragement from the Gunners faithful.

Calvert-Lewin stung Raya’s palms as Everton threatened on the counter, though the post came to the visitors’ rescue when Havertz saw a header clip agonisingly off the woodwork.

As City went 3-1 ahead, Arsenal kept pushing – Pickford making a stunning stop with his legs to deny Odegaard, with Amadou Onana blocking Emile Smith Rowe’s follow-up.

Smith Rowe rattled the crossbar in the 83rd minute, but Everton’s resolve was finally broken when Young’s pass was intercepted by Gabriel Jesus. Odegaard failed to connect properly with his attempt, but Havertz was on hand to finish.

The goal was confirmed after a VAR check for handball by Jesus, though despite the electric atmosphere at the Emirates, Arsenal’s title hopes were still dashed.

Plenty of cheer, but no joy for Arsenal

It was fitting that Arsenal ended what has been a superb campaign on a high note, and they certainly had plenty of chances – having 26 shots in total – before Havertz finally got the job done.

But competing against City is a gargantuan task, and Arsenal could just not get over the line in the end.

Arteta will reflect on a fantastic season, and now the challenge is to somehow go one better next year.

Pickford in his pomp

With Euro 2024 just around the corner, England manager Gareth Southgate will be thrilled to see Pickford in such solid form.

Only Golden Glove winner Raya, with 16, has kept more Premier League clean sheets than Pickford (13) this season, and the 30-year-old was excellent on Sunday.

While he was beaten by Tomiyasu’s low shot, Pickford had already made smart stops to thwart both Rice and Martinelli, though his standout save was the one to frustrate Odegaard in the second half, and he was unlucky to be on the losing team.

With Everton facing financial difficulties, Sean Dyche will be determined to keep hold of Pickford over the transfer window.

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