Arsenal stunned as Sean Dyche makes dream start as new Everton manager

Tarkowski heads the only goal as Premier League leaders are beaten at Goodison Park

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Everton secured their first win since October as Sean Dyche’s reign as manager got off to the perfect start against Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Dyche insisted he did not have any “magic dust” to sprinkle on a struggling side but the effect he had was immediate as James Tarkowski headed the only goal on the hour.

It was the centre-back’s first goal since joining from Burnley - Dyche's former club - on a free in the summer and ended a run of no wins in 10 matches in all competitions.

The great escape is most definitely on for Everton, who by virtue of their early kick-off, briefly moved out of the relegation zone with hope springing eternal at Goodison after 12 miserable months under previous manager Frank Lampard.

"I like these 1-0 wins," Dyche told the BBC. "A lot of work has been done this week and the players' honesty has been invaluable to us. There had to be a base to work from. Our plan? Stop it going in our net, put it in their net.

"We tried to plan five weeks of pre-season into a week. We gave the players a lot of information and they have accepted that. It's a starting point - that is all it is.

"The fans are going to be massive for us. I have been here [Goodison Park] when it has been rocking. It was rocking today. But we have to give the fans something.

"Of course I'm going to drive home and think what a great start but I'm not naive. We have to keep working and improving."

Defeat was Arsenal’s first since September, and only their second in the league, and opened the door for Manchester City to narrow the five-point gap at Tottenham on Sunday.

The combination of Dyche – who has won two and drawn three of his last six meetings with the Gunners – and Goodison Park – where they have won twice in their last 11 visits – proved to be Arsenal’s nemesis once again as Everton won three successive home games against the Londoners for the first time in more than 45 years.

There was a protest march in the street ahead of kick-off – with the board of directors absent for the second match running on security advice – and a small sit-in after the final whistle.

But in between there was much greater optimism with Dyche making an immediate impact despite having just five days to work with his new squad.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – who had been training on his own after a fall-out with Lampard – made his first Premier League start since mid-August to bring some energy into a five-man midfield, which was a departure from the manager’s usual 4-4-2.

But what was evident on the pitch was reassuringly familiar with Dyche insisting his side be more direct and get the ball forward early to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who looked re-energised having struggled for fitness all season, and he almost latched onto a Dwight McNeil pass but was out sprinted by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Had Calvert-Lewis got more of a connection on Amadou Onana’s low cross after a bursting run down the left then Everton would have been ahead, with the England international also firing in a weak shot from Alex Iwobi’s knockdown and flicking a header wide after Iwobi and Seamus Coleman had combined on the opposite flank.

Arsenal dominated possession but found it difficult to find a way through a more compact and committed side, who were quick to get back into shape when they lost possession, with Conor Coady clearing the visitors’ best chance of the half off the line from Bukayo Saka’s volley.

Martin Odegaard ballooned over from Eddie Nketiah’s cross early in the second half as Arsenal redoubled their efforts with new signings Leandro Trossard and Jorginho soon introduced.

But they had not had a touch before Tarkowski rose above a crowded six-yard box to head home a corner and get the old stadium rocking.

Arsenal boss Arteta told BT Sport: “We had loads of the ball but we lacked that purpose and quality in the final third, we generated many chances. But then we conceded and they slowed the game down and we struggled.

“They do this to every team that is their strength with the height, the physicality is their strength, if you want to control the game against them you have to control this. We did not do that today.

“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."

Updated: February 04, 2023, 3:59 PM