There is a Merseyside derby on Monday that will define Christmas 2016 in the city of Liverpool but for the meantime, Ronald Koeman and Everton can at least say that they are back off the canvas and ready to face an old enemy with
some of the confidence of their early season form.
Ashley Williams’ winning goal five minutes from the end, inflicted upon Arsenal their first league defeat since the
opening day of the season and it restored to Goodison Park some of the fervour that had been lacking in the opening
stages of the game. It was only the second win in 12 games for Koeman, a man under pressure, and not just for his
Christmas tree decorations, but the win came just in time.
Everton had fallen behind to Arsenal through a heavily deflected free-kick from Alexis Sanchez – given away by Williams and inadvertently steered past Maarten Stekelenburg by the same centre-half – and in those early stages it
looked grim for Koeman. His team, heavily changed after defeat to Watford, gave up far too many chances in the early part of the game but gradually they came to life.
Seamus Coleman’s equaliser for Everton set the stage for a much improved second half performance from the home team and when Williams’ winner did arrive it was not undeserved. They survived a frantic end with Petr Cech pushed up for the late
Arsenal corners and free-kicks, Phil Jagielka dismissed for a second yellow card when he fouled the substitute Lucas
Perez and a late Arsenal effort kicked off the line.
As for Arsene Wenger’s team, they had faded away under the onslaught and although they created chances in the first
half there were too few after the break and too little, too late when they were forced to chase the game. The ground
lost in the title race is not disastrous but it will be telling to see where the loss of their recent unbeaten run
English champions Leicester City failed to continue their mini-revival after a clinical finish by Bournemouth’s Marc
Pugh condemned them to a 1-0 away defeat in a scrappy Premier League clash.
The outcome kept 14th-placed Leicester close to the relegation zone on 16 points, four above the bottom three who
play their games in hand on Wednesday, and was a setback after Saturday’s 4-2 home win over fourth-placed Manchester
Bournemouth, who kept the visitors on the back foot for much of the contest, grabbed a 34th-minute winner when Pugh
swept in a rebound from 13 metres after Leicester keeper Ron-Robert Zieler did well to parry a close range shot by