Trossard strikes as Arsenal end Everton curse

Arsenal’s Belgian midfielder #19 Leandro Trossard on the attack during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on September 17, 2023. AFP

Arsenal ended their six-year wait for a Premier League victory at Everton as Leandro Trossard fired the title-chasing Gunners to a 1-0 success on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta’s side had to work hard for their first win at Goodison Park since 2017, with Belgian forward Trossard settling a scrappy encounter midway through the second half.

Arsenal were not at their fluent best but they earned their fourth win in five games this season by matching Everton’s physical approach.

Arteta has warned his players they would only end their Everton curse if they are willing to put their bodies on the line and they rose to that challenge.

After leaving it late to beat Manchester United in their previous game before the international break, this was another tense affair for Arsenal.

But Trossard’s goal lifted unbeaten the north Londoners into fourth place, two points behind leaders Manchester City as they aim to avenge last season’s late collapse in the title race.

“It was a long time without a win here. We played a great game and didn’t give anything away. We dominated and the score should probably have been bigger,” Arteta said.

“Everton haven’t created a single chance. It’s about intelligence but also about the fight.

“Against Manchester United I saw my face after and it was a bit of relief. This was enjoyment. We were patient and Leandro produced an incredible finish to win the game.”

Winless Everton remain in the relegation zone as they face up to another relegation battle after narrowly beating the drop in the last two seasons.

Sean Dyche’s team headed into the game on the back of the news that the club is set to have new owners after Farhad Moshiri agreed to sell his 94 percent stake to American investment fund 777 Partners.

The takeover would bring to an end the tumultuous tenure of British-Iranian Moshiri, who first invested in 2016.

Ruthless Arteta 

Everton’s new owners got an early glimpse into the size of the task facing them as the Toffees suffered a fourth defeat in their opening five league games for the first time since 2005-06.

Arteta, a former Everton midfielder, has no such worries as Arsenal prepare for their return to the Champions League after a six-year absence against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.

The Spaniard was rewarded with a clean-sheet from keeper David Raya, who made his Arsenal debut following his move from Brentford as Aaron Ramsdale dropped to the bench.

Raya was one of two changes, with Fabio Vieira making his first start since April in place of Kai Havertz.

“It is nothing different. I have 11 players to pick and no-one is different,” Arteta said of his ruthless decision to axe Ramsdale.

Gabriel Martinelli thought he had given Arsenal the lead their dominance deserved when he slotted home from close-range in the 19th minute, but his effort was disallowed for offside against Eddie Nketiah in the build-up.

Gabriel’s pass had bounced off Everton forward Beto when Nketiah was ruled to be interfering with play, much to Arsenal’s disgust.

Adding insult to injury for Martinelli, the Brazilian forward limped off with a muscle injury soon after that incident.

Arsenal were in such total command that Everton went the first half an hour without a single touch inside the visitors’ penalty area.

Ben White’s effort was saved by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, who produced an even better stop to keep out Marin Odegaard’s rocket soon after half-time.

Everton’s Arnaut Danjuma fired onto the roof of the net from distance, but Arsenal finally made their pressure pay off in the 69th minute.

A flurry of passes opened up the Everton defence and Bukayo Saka deftly clipped the ball into Trossard, who guided a composed finish into the far corner for his first league goal this season.

Chelsea’s woes mount after Bournemouth stalemate

Troubled Chelsea, meanwhile,  had to settle for a disappointing 0-0 draw against Bournemouth on Sunday as their dismal start to the Premier League season showed no signs of improving.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won just once in five league games this term and they were booed off after lacking any semblance of a cutting edge at the Vitality Stadium.

The Blues are without a goal in their last two matches and have scored only five times in the league this season.

They are languishing in 14th place, closer to the relegation zone than the top four, as Pochettino comes to terms with the size of the task facing him at Stamford Bridge.

“I cannot say that I am happy but it was a very competitive game. We should win 1-0 or 2-0 easily because in the first 30 minutes we had the chances,” Pochettino said.

“With 12 injuries and only three players that started today who were with us for these two weeks I think I need only need to say it was a really good effort.”

The former Tottenham and Paris Saint Germain boss was hired in the close-season to clean up the mess left by Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard, who all had spells in charge of Chelsea during last season’s wretched campaign.

But Pochettino has so far been unable to make an impact despite Chelsea’s £350 million spending spree on new signings.

A rash of untimely injuries haven’t helped but Chelsea’s decision to largely sign younger players has left Pochettino with an inexperienced squad that lacks the maturity to close out games.

“We need to prove our efficiency in front of goal. We need to be calm also but these circumstances are not always easy for the players. We cannot blame anyone,” Pochettino said.

“The fans are disappointed because of the situation but I am not worried about that because we really know what we are doing.”

Challenging for a place in the Champions League was Pochettino’s target this season, but that ambition already seems overly optimistic on the evidence of this drab display against winless Bournemouth.

While it is too soon to say Pochettino is in danger of the sack, he will be well aware Potter lasted less than seven months before being sacked by co-owner Todd Boehly.

Lacklustre Chelsea 

Pochettino made two changes from the side that lost to Nottingham Forest in their previous game, with big-money summer signing Moises Caicedo left out of the squad and teenager Lesley Ugochukwu given his first Premier League start.

Chelsea tried to seize the initiative in the early stages, but Enzo Fernandez fired straight at Neto from the edge of the area before Raheem Sterling dragged his shot woefully wide from a dangerous position.

Nicolas Jackson went much closer when the Senegal striker drilled his shot against the post from 20 yards.

Despite their bright start, Chelsea were nearly undone by woeful defending as the unmarked Dango Ouattara reached a cross with a close-range effort that forced a fine save from Robert Sanchez.

Gallagher should have put Chelsea ahead with a shot on the turn from 10 yards, but Neto plunged to his right to make a good save.

Chelsea thought they had finally taken the lead early in the second when Sterling’s free-kick bounced off the bar to Levi Colwill, who slotted into the empty net only to see his effort disallowed for offside.

But it was Bournemouth who finished stronger and Axel Disasi narrowly avoided conceding a penalty when his despairing lunge brought down Justin Kluivert just outside the area.

Sanchez came to Chelsea’s rescue in the 80th minute, saving with his legs to keep out Dominic Solanke’s strike.

Sterling could have won it with a close-range header that lacked the power to beat Neto, who also made a fine instinctive save to repel Cole Palmer’s close-range volley.

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