It wasn’t pretty or exciting on Sunday but Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Everton was just the kind of game that Premier League title challenges can be built on.
A classy 69th-minute shot by substitute Leandro Trossard sealed the three points and lifted the level of quality against a limited Everton team playing spoiler at home.
A third straight 1-0 loss for Everton at Goodison Park this season suggested its prospective new American owners would be taking on a rather distressed asset on the field.
Arsenal was the only team in action Sunday to score, after Chelsea misfired in a 0-0 draw at Bournemouth.
Trossard entered the game unexpectedly early when Gabriel Martinelli was injured within a minute of play restarting after he thought he had given Arsenal the lead in the 19th. It was ruled out by an offside spotted on video review.
The victory kept Arsenal level with Tottenham and Liverpool, trailing two points behind defending champion Manchester City at the top of the standings.
It was Everton’s first game since the club announced majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri agreed a sale to Miami-based 777 Partners. 777 has stakes in multiple clubs worldwide including Hertha Berlin which, like Everton, was in decline on the field when a majority stake was taken in March. Hertha was relegated and is now in the Bundesliga second tier.
The proposed Everton deal must be referred to the Premier League and British regulator the Financial Conduct Authority.
Everton took more than 70 minutes to force a corner and tried to survive on about 25% possession of the ball throughout.
With just two goals scored in five league games Everton has the worst scoring rate and already is back in the bottom three places where it spent much of last season. Last-place Luton also has scored just twice though in one game fewer than Everton.
It meant debut-making Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya had little to do replacing Aaron Ramsdale, who was rested after starting for England on Tuesday in a 3-1 win over Scotland.
A hectic week for Arsenal sees the club return to the Champions League for the first time in seven seasons on Wednesday, at home to PSV Eindhoven, before hosting Tottenham in the north London derby next Sunday.
Chelsea is still misfiring in a latest reset with yet more newly acquired players in a $1 billion spending spree and after hiring another highly rated coach since its own American-led takeover last year.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino was missing a full team’s worth of injured players Sunday and filled his substitutes bench with teenagers yet to make their first-team debuts.
Still, his team had enough scoring chances at Bournemouth and twice had shots strike the frame of the goal.
“That is a thing that makes me very, very angry and disappointed because the effort of the team is fantastic,” Pochettino said. “We need, sometimes, this luck or be more clinical in front of goal. Because all the metrics are good.”
The luck was missing when Raheem Sterling’s 51st-minute free kick bounced down from the bar on to the goal line. Though defender Levi Colwill followed up to put the ball in the net, he was ruled offside.
Chelsea now has just one win in five league games and is 14th in the league standings – one place below Manchester United and one above Bournemouth which has yet to win.
It is also two places below where Chelsea finished last season. So there will be no European game in midweek for the team that won Champions League titles in 2012 and ’21, and the Europa League in 2013 and ’19.