On Everton Saving The Title Race by Not Losing to Arsenal

Gerard Deulofeu

Plenty of Premier League teams will be sending early Christmas gifts to Gerard Deulofeu for his fantastic goal that stopped Arsenal from opening a seven point lead over Liverpool and Chelsea, while Manchester City, also messing up this weekend, will be feeling quite grateful themselves. No one is going to be happier than Everton though.

The Toffees prove once again they’re a team to consider at this point when talking about titles and Champions League tickets. They’ve drawn with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham; beaten Chelsea and Manchester United; lost to Manchester City. They’re heading into the Christmas mayhem with a much easier schedule than the rest of their league-top rivals, hoping to cut down the 7 point gap between them and the Gunners a little bit more.

Everton showed everyone how to play against Arsenal, and it doesn’t take some rare blend of athleticism and bravery to do it. Unlike Liverpool, who almost gave up on winning at the Emirates from the moment they stepped on the pitch, Everton pressed Arsenal high, and cut off the supply train between Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta to the rest of the attacking midfield. Long balls aren’t the Arsenal way, so turnovers in the middle and actually allowing Everton to create more dangerous chances throughout the match was the result.

Mesut Ozil did find the net eventually, but Everton deserved that draw and more, coming from Deulofeu, five minutes after coming onto the pitch. With Chelsea making a short trip to North London two weeks from now, Mourinho was probably writing down everything he saw in hope to have the same effect on the match.

Maybe Arsenal came out a little fearful due to their manager complaining before the match about the loan system. He doesn’t like facing Romelu Lukaku while Chelsea don’t. He has a point, but making his voice heard just before the match, speaking like he’s the number one protester against the current regulations. Lukaku wasn’t very effective in the match, but his presence gives defenses headaches even on his bad days.

For neutrals, this was the best result possible. Arsenal remain a two-match streak away from three contenders, not leaving the league behind them. The density of matches at Christmas usually tests and separates teams – pretenders and contenders. Thanks to Everton’s late goal, Arsenal can’t afford to feel too calm about what’s waiting for them from now on till January 1.

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