Leandro Trossard’s second-half strike secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory for Arsenal against Everton as the Gunners ended a five-game winless run at Goodison Park.
Trossard, a first-half substitute for the injured Gabriel Martinelli, struck his winner in style, firing a first-time finish in off the post from Bukayo Saka’s pass following a smartly-worked corner.
It came after a controversially-disallowed Martinelli strike in the first half, when Eddie Nketiah was found to be fractionally offside by VAR earlier in the passage of play, despite the ball only reaching him via a heavy deflection off Everton striker Beto.
Beto’s intervention drastically altered the course of Gabriel Magalhaes’ sideways pass, but PGMOL rules state that a deflection must be deliberate, which is defined as a player having control of the ball, and Beto was deemed not to be in control.
Arsenal continued to probe, however, with Trossard’s first Premier League goal of the season eventually clinching a long-awaited Goodison victory which moves the Gunners up to fourth while continuing Everton’s winless start to the campaign.
The disallowed goal: What happened and why was it ruled out?
Gabriel meets a bouncing ball just inside the Arsenal half and attempts to play a short pass inside to his centre-back partner William Saliba.
As he releases the pass, Everton striker Beto comes across and charges it down, diverting the ball straight forward, where Nketiah controls it and lays it off to Fabio Vieira.
Vieira then slots a pass through to the onrushing Gabriel Martinelli, who finishes into the far corner before pulling up with an apparent hamstring injury.
Arsenal’s celebrations are cut short, however, when a VAR check begins and ultimately rules in favour of Everton, with Nketiah found to be offside.
Although Beto’s intervention dramatically alters the course of Gabriel’s attempted pass, it is not deemed a deliberate act by PGMOL, so the play does not reset at the point of his contact.
Everton: Pickford (7), Young (6), Tarkowski (7), Branthwaite (7), Mykolenko (7), Onana (6), Doucoure (6), Gueye (6), Danjuma (5), McNeil (5), Beto (6).
Subs: Calvert-Lewin (6), Garner (6), Patterson (6), Chermiti (6).
Arsenal: Raya (7), White (7), Saliba (7), Gabriel (7), Zinchenko (7), Rice (8), Odegaard (6), Vieira (7), Saka (7), Martinelli (7), Nketiah (5).
Subs: Trossard (8), Jesus (6), Havertz (6), Tomiyasu (6).
Player of the match: Leandro Trossard
How Arsenal bounced back from VAR drama
The disallowed goal proved a pivotal moment in the first half. Arsenal had started positively but the incident, which saw Martinelli pull up with a hamstring injury after scoring, caused them to lose momentum and allowed Everton to gain a foothold.
- Everton boss Sean Dyche made two changes, with Dwight McNeil and Vitaliy Mykolenko replacing James Garner and Nathan Patterson. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was named on the bench.
- Mikel Arteta dropped Aaron Ramsdale for David Raya in goal, handing his new goalkeeper a debut, and also selected Fabio Vieira ahead of Kai Havertz.
Debutant David Raya, picked in goal instead of Aaron Ramsdale in a boldly-chosen Arsenal team which also included Fabio Vieira ahead of Kai Havertz, had been a spectator during the early stages but had to dive to his right to save an Idrissa Gueye effort from range.
That spell also saw Everton have a penalty appeal turned down when Abdoulaye Doucoure went to ground in the box, only for referee Simon Hooper to wave away the home side’s protests.
The game became a stop-start affair for the rest of the first half, with neither side able to create clear opportunities, but Arsenal emerged from the interval with renewed impetus, Jordan Pickford saving smartly from Martin Odegaard.
Arsenal continued to pour forward but Everton offered stiff resistance, with centre-backs James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite defending bravely and making a succession of vital blocks.
Eventually, though, the pressure told, with Arsenal taking a corner short and working the ball quickly to Bukayo Saka on the right-hand side of the box, with Trossard brilliantly hooking his team-mate’s cut-back into the far corner past the despairing Pickford.
Everton came into the game after another tumultuous week off the field, with chairman Farhad Moshiri having agreed a deal to sell the club to 777 Partners, subject to Premier League approval.
On it, though, they offered little improvement as an attacking force following their worst start to a season in 29 years – and that despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s from injury as a substitute.
Instead, Arsenal looked more likely to add to their lead in the closing stages, with Odegaard again denied by Pickford and Vieira seeing his follow-up effort blocked by Vitaliy Mykolenko.
In the end, though, the one-goal margin was enough for Arsenal, who end their Goodison Park hoodoo, piling more misery on their winless opponents, and moving back to within two points of leaders Manchester City as they prepare for their Champions League return in midweek.
The story of the match
Arteta: We played an incredible game
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta told Sky Sports: “For six years we haven’t won here and there are a few reasons for it. It’s how you do things and the input you do in every single action.
“I think we played an incredible game, we kept them quiet and created many, many chances, The first [disallowed] goal as well should be allowed. We dominated the game and we are extremely happy to go away with a win and a clean sheet.”
“I think we took the game into the areas we wanted for long and we were really solid. We gave very very little away. They haven’t created a single chance. It’s about intelligence but also about the fight.”
On Martinelli’s disallowed goal, he added: “It comes off the opponent. I don’t know the reason why they’ve done it. But that could have changed the game much earlier.”
Confirming the injury to the Brazilian which saw him withdrawn for Trossard, Arteta said: “He felt something in his hamstring so he will need to be assessed.”
On Trossard’s finish, he added: “Great finish. He did it in the week with Belgium as well. It’s what we need – the players who came in did very well, the subs that came on did very well. We need everyone on their toes and we fully trust them.”
Goalscorer Trossard told Sky Sports: “I think it’s a great action! I called Bukayo and he saw me, it’s a great lay-off and I knew I had to hit it straight with my left. It goes in perfectly and I’m really happy.
“I’ve been practising all my life with both feet – you can see it helps you as an attacker. It’s so helpful if you’re good with both feet, to go either way, and score with both feet. It’s nice.
“It’s always tough here, they give you a hard time. We defended the box well though, and we took our chance well.”
Dyche: We were miles off it on the ball
Everton manager Sean Dyche told Sky Sports: “We defended in numbers which you have to do against teams like this often – not always, but often.
“We did well on that side of the game but with the ball we were miles off, we gave it away too many times. When you break their play and you counter you have to keep the ball. You have to play with those bits of quality which we never found.”
Asked what his side needed to improve on the ball, he said: “Just the character on the ball. You’ve got to want the ball and you’ve got to use it.
“You can’t just win it back and say ‘job done’. You’ve got to then activate yourself as a team and I just thought that was lacking. If the first pass is wrong then it doesn’t give you a chance to counter and you’re defending again anyway.”
On Arsenal’s goal, he said: “From our setup point of view, it’s a poor goal. Just the details, the way we set the players up.
“The details have cost us all season, that’s something we’ve got to correct. Both boxes are vital, you’ve got to stay focused. You’ve got to be aware that those details are massive in football and they were again today.”
Dyche did, however, feel Everton should have had a penalty: “I didn’t think the performance of the officials was on par. I thought we had a penalty, the lad fouls Beto, then Douc [Doucoure] goes into the box, is body-checked and nothing given. Then there are four minutes added at the end.”
Everton’s next game is away to Brentford on Saturday, live on Sky Sports – kick-off 5.30pm. The Toffees then travel to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on September 27 – kick-off 7.45pm.
Arsenal’s next outing is at home to PSV on Wednesday as they make their return to the Champions League – kick-off 8pm.
The Gunners are then back in Premier League action when they host Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports – kick-off 2pm.