LIVERPOOL (AP): Arsenal lost in the Premier League for just the second time this season as Everton pulled off a surprising 1-0 win over the leaders on Saturday in its first match under new manager Sean Dyche.
A couple of Dyche’s former players at Burnley did the business for him at a lively Goodison Park.
James Tarkowski headed in an inswinging corner to the far post from Dwight McNeil for the winning goal in the 60th minute, capping a performance of intensity and desire from a team that started the match in next-to-last place.
While Everton climbed out of the relegation zone at least temporarily, Arsenal tasted defeat in the league for the first time since losing at Manchester United on Sept. 4. Second-place Manchester City can trim the gap to Arsenal to two points with a win at Tottenham on Sunday, though Arsenal would still have a game in hand.
It will go down as one of Arsenal’s worst performances of the season, at a time when Mikel Arteta’s team was looking in prime shape to go on and win the league for the first time since 2004. “This is not going to be a rose pathway,” Arteta said. “This is going to be tricky and we will have to dig in and play much better than we did today.”
Everton showed improved shape and organization under Dyche, characteristics he demanded of his well-drilled Burnley teams over the years and ones he sees as integral if his new club is to preserve its 69-year top-flight status.
Dyche said he had crammed a lot of instructions to his players into his first week on the job and wanted to get them to “understand the basics of the game.” “It’s not that they weren’t wearing the badge with pride, it just needed shining up a bit,” Dyche said. “There was commitment but it maybe got a bit softened.”
Everton had the better of the first-half chances, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin unable to get enough on the ball from two yards out after Amadou Onana surged down the left and sent in a cross before Abdoulaye Doucoure headed wide from McNeil’s cross.
Bukayo Saka had a weak shot cleared off line and Arsenal teammate Eddie Nketiah blazed high and wide, but the visitors were often hounded out of possession in midfield and struggled to keep their composure. Indeed, frustrations boiled over in stoppage time as Arsenal left back Oleksandr Zinchenko clashed with Everton substitute Neal Maupay off the ball.
Jorginho, signed on Tuesday from Chelsea, came on as a second-half substitute for his Arsenal debut but didn’t make a significant impression.
“We needed more composure and to control emotionally the game better. We gave away so many unnecessary free kicks and that’s what they want,” Arteta said. “Today I love them much better than the week before or a month ago. It is easy to be next to someone when they are winning well. I am still so proud of all of these players.”
Everton, which claimed its first victory since Oct. 22, had lost every game since the restart after the World Cup except for a draw at second-place Man City.