Belfast Telegraph

Everton 2 Arsenal 1: Williams on a high as Everton bite back to stun Gunners

By Carl Markham

Ashley Williams believes his late winner against Arsenal can act as a spur to get Everton's Premier League campaign back on track.

Williams' 86th-minute header completed a stirring comeback against the in-form Gunners and secured just a second league win in 11 games for Everton.

That poor run had looked set to continue when Williams diverted in an early Alexis Sanchez free-kick, but Everton reacted to going behind by drawing level before half-time when Seamus Coleman headed in a Leighton Baines cross.

Williams then completed a deserved win late on and, after a week of soul-searching, the defender believes Everton can kick on with the Merseyside derby against Liverpool next up.

"It should give us a massive confidence boost," he said. "We spoke a lot. It was about looking at ourselves in the mirror as a group and trying to put it right.

"The way everyone battled after going 1-0 down shows what we can do and that we are together."

Everton manager Ronald Koeman was pleased with his team's spirit after their poor start.

"If you start how we started you don't win. It was really poor and very nervous," he said. "We know if we fight for every ball and we're aggressive then you see the reaction of the crowd and it's very difficult to win at Everton away.

"After 20 minutes we went face-to-face and that's what you need to do against teams like Arsenal that like to have the ball. We deserved the win and the three points."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted Everton's physicality unnerved his side, who lost in the Premier League for the first time since the opening day and missed out on the chance to reclaim top spot.

Wenger, however, denied his players had been bullied. He said: "It was a very physical game and we faced many challenges and lost some balls we are not used to (losing). It disrupted our game.

"They defended very well. They played a cup game. For us it was to not give them too much on set-pieces and crosses and at the end of the day, two defenders scored.

"We did fight, I cannot fault our fighting spirit. We lost some goals we should not lose, but maybe that was down to the intensity of the game."

Arsenal began the game on top and the general perception that it would be when and not if the Gunners scored was realised after some haphazard defending.

Williams clattered into team-mate Idrissa Gueye as he panicked to clear, allowing Francis Coquelin to draw Phil Jagielka into a soft foul on the edge of the area.

Williams compounded his mistake as he appeared to be taken by surprise by Sanchez's low free-kick, allowing the ball to hit him to divert it past Maarten Stekelenburg.

It took over half an hour for Everton to realise they would have more joy if they pressed the visitors.

They gradually dragged themselves back into the game with Aaron Lennon wasting two good opportunities.

The Toffees' momentum looked like being scuppered by half-time but a minute before the break Baines' in-swinging right-footed cross was headed home by fellow full-back Coleman.

The interval did indeed burst the hosts' bubble as Mesut Ozil began the second half as he did the first, firing over unmarked, but it was not long before Everton swarmed all over their opponents with an intensity which has been lacking for several weeks.

Late on, Phil Jagielka's shot was palmed away by Petr Cech - his first real save - but from the resulting corner Williams' downward header lifted the roof off Goodison Park.

Tensions increased as Jagielka was sent off for a second bookable offence in added time but it still needed a Baines clearance off the line even later before the celebrations began.

Everton: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Williams, Gueye, McCarthy (Funes Mori 90), Lennon (Mirallas 68), Valencia (Calvert-Lewin 79), Barkley, Lukaku.

Subs not used: Robles, Deulofeu, Cleverley, Holgate

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin (Perez 88), Xhaka, Walcott (Giroud 71), Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Iwobi 71), Sanchez.

Subs not used: Gibbs, Ospina, Holding, Elneny

Belfast Telegraph


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