Leandro Trossard’s second-half strike secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory for Arsenal against Everton as the Gunners ended a 10-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.
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.
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.