Arsenal sealed an excellent 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday to ease into the top four and make it five league games unbeaten this season so far.
Leandro Trossard slotted home Bukayo Saka's perceptive pullback in the 69th minute to send the Gunners on their way to the club's frst victory on the blue half of Merseyswide since October 2017.
Here's Gooner Fanzine print writer Alan Alger with his regular column Three Things We Learned.
1 - Karen Carney is a perceptive pundit and was onto something…
I thought it was incredible insight from Karen Carney on Sky to mention Arsenal’s tempo and control in the game yesterday. The ex-England international explained how she thought the lacklustre game had been in Arteta’s mind all along - slowing down the pace and calming the atmosphere.
I know the Everton crowd have very little to shout about these days, but they usually exercise their vocal cords when we are in town. Too many times in recent seasons we have let them dictate the passion levels from their own team and have paid the price.
It was such intelligent management from Mikel Arteta to advise his team to go through the motions and not let any one incident spark a rise in the Goodison noise levels.
Furthermore, the decision to drop Aaron Ramsdale - a notorious wind-up merchant to home fans when we are on the road - could well have been an extension of this?
Carney was proved right in Arteta’s post match when he agreed that we had killed the game and the atmosphere by design.
Even the battling qualities of Everton’s side were reduced, as they were shown just one yellow card (arguably could have been two) as opposed to the four they received in Dyche’s first game when they beat us in the same fixture last season.
2 - We consistently find new ways for officials to wrong us…
Had Leandro Trossard not scored his delicious second-half winner yesterday, then I’m almost certain we’d all be making a bigger collective noise on social media regarding the disallowed Gabriel Martinelli ‘goal’ in the first half.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
The decision was wrong on at least two levels when you look at the letter of the law. Notably, Gabriel’s pass is not forward and then Beto’s intervention was surely deliberate? It really takes a lot of picking through to insist the goal is chalked off - and once again it’s Arsenal who seem to be the standard-bearers in new and innovative ways to referee football matches.
Think back to double-yellow cards for the same incidents, VAR not working properly and then Tomi’s second booking at Palace. That’s just off the top of my head.
Discussing officials is not the way we want to end a weekend. It’s just that it’s increasingly clear we seem to get newly concocted ways of being wronged. Furthermore, the challenge from Mykolenko on Bukayo Saka is surely a yellow card offence? The fact the referee needed VAR to intervene and then gave a drop ball (because the rules don’t allow him to give a yellow if he doesn’t originally blow the whistle) is again not showing the division’s officiating in the best light.
3 - Declan dictates…
Readers of this column might think I’m repeating myself with the accolades for our new acquisition from West Ham, but I will not stop singing his praises.
Rice will be an incredible asset in the northern away games where last ditch tackles and break-up play are vital to stay in the game. Gary Neville wasn’t at his best in the co-commentator role yesterday (including his undisguised annoyance when he thought Arsenal had scored in the first half) - but he did point out that when Rice is facing his own keeper he nearly always executes a perfect tackle and pass to regain possession - all done with very little fuss.
He will only get better and better.