Goal of the Season contender as Everton turn back Arsenal 2-1 in EPL

Demarai Gray’s stoppage-time rocket condemned Arsenal to a third consecutive away defeat as the Gunners gave up a first-half lead to lose 2-1 to Everton at Goodison Park.

Despite Martin Odegaard’s well-taken goal putting Arsenal in a strong position, Mikel Arteta’s men were twice thankful for VAR interventions before Richarlison, the man denied on each occasion, finally found an equaliser on 79 minutes.

Eddie Nketiah and Odegaard had opportunities to snatch a win against the run of play but after allowing Gray to cut onto his right foot there was something inevitable about him finding the net.

Mikel Arteta made four changes to the side that started Thursday’s defeat to Manchester United. The most eye-catching was the selection of Granit Xhaka.

Out since September, the Switzerland international, returning a month ahead of schedule, took up a place in midfield alongside Thomas Partey. Mo Elneny dropped to the bench.

Elsewhere, Kieran Tierney replaced Nuno Tavares, Saka came in for Smith Rowe, who limped off at Old Trafford, and Alex Lacazette started ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Having gone eight games without a win, the home side were keen to get the disgruntled home support onside with an early show of blood and thunder.

Godfrey cleared out Tomiyasu as the pair challenged for fifty-fifty and Gray raised pulses with a burst forward that ended with a shot flying over Ramsdale’s bar.

Just as Arteta was preparing a half-time rocket, his players produced a moment of real quality to snatch the lead out of nothing.

Gabriel, Xhaka and Lacazette were involved in releasing Tierney down the left and the Scot picked out Odegaard who guided the ball home on the volley from eight yards. It was the Norwegian’s third goal of the season and his second in four days. It was also the gunner’s first effort of the evening on target. (1-0)

SECOND HALF

Aside from Ramsdale being forced to tip over an up and under by Gordon, Arsenal were relatively controlled and probably should have doubled their lead when an Odegaard free-kick picked out Gabriel at the back post.

The centre-back could have found a teammate as he tried to head back across the goal but was left with his head in his hands when Pickford claimed.

In the pouring rain, the game grew stretched and then scrappy. There was a glimmer of a second when Martinelli went round Pickford but he couldn’t keep his effort on target.

The winger was replaced by Nketiah with 20 minutes remaining after going down with a cramp.

By that point, Tavares had also replaced Tierney and Xhaka had joined Godfrey, finally booked for a foul on Saka, in the book.

Ramsdale was not impressed by what was playing out in front of him and handed out rollickings to Tavares for a wayward pass across his box and to pretty much everybody else in a red shirt who came within five yards of him.

It was to no avail. Arsenal couldn’t shake the jitters and with 11 minutes remaining, Everton grabbed a deserved equaliser. After Gray had hit the bar with a curler, Richarlison was well placed to head the ball back over Ramsdale. (1-1)

The roar from the Goodison faithful was a clear sign they fancied another and yet it was Arsenal who had three great chances to sneak a second. Nketiah headed a Saka cross against the post from point-blank range – a terrible miss by the substitute – and Odegaard had two shots blocked at close quarters.

In the second of six minutes of stoppage time, Arsenal again allowed Gray to cut onto his right foot and this time, the winger delivered a killer blow, finding the net off the post with a rasping drive. He ripped off his shirt and went straight into the crowd. (2-1)

While defeat might have been avoided at the death had substitute Aubameyang converted a simple chance, there’s no doubting Arsenal got what they deserved on a night of bad performances across the board.