Lucas Digne was Carlo Ancelotti’s standout performer on Friday as Everton claimed a 1-0 win for their first away victory over Arsenal in 25 years.
The Gunners were unbeaten in their previous 24 home Premier League encounters between the clubs dating back to 1996, but saw the record fall on a historic night for the Toffees who completed their first top-flight double over the north Londoners since the 1985-86 season.
Everton were gifted the win by Bernd Leno just inside the final quarter of an hour when the German calamitously failed to keep out Richarlison’s unthreatening pass across the six-yard box, with the ball slipping through the hapless goalkeeper’s legs.
The visiting Goodison Park natives saw little offensive threat from their forward players at the Emirates Stadium, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin enjoying his best chance in the second minute of his return from an abductor injury when the striker’s header drifted wide.
Richarlison later forced a save from Leno that Calvert-Lewin was inches from turning home, while Gylfi Sigurdsson produced Everton’s most promising strike when his 30-yard free-kick grazed the crossbar six minutes before the break.
Calvert-Lewin rarely saw enough of the ball to make a telling impact with the forward recording just 24 touches – no player for either side who started, including goalkeepers Leno (25) and Jordan Pickford (57), registered fewer, per WhoScored.
Those behind the Toffees’ 14-goal top-scorer also struggled to create chances for the 24-year-old, with neither Richarlison, Sigurdsson or James Rodriguez offering a single key pass.
Seamus Coleman led the Blues’ creative efforts with a joint game-high two key balls ahead of Digne (1) and holding midfielder Allan (1) but offered his vision in a different manner to his French full-back colleague.
While Digne provided four crosses and found a teammate once – only Sigurdsson (0/5) played more, while Bukayo Saka (1/7) and Calum Chambers (1/5) offered more for Arsenal – Coleman did not float a single ball into the host’s penalty area, per SofaScore.
Chambers and Saka were also frequently on the losing end of their duels up against Digne, with the Gunners pair winning one of four and four of 13 challenges respectively, while the Blues defender won eight of his twelve.
Digne further proved imperious defensively with the 27-year-old winning possession with a game-high six successful tackles from seven attempts and made his side’s third-most clearances (3) behind centre-backs Ben Godfrey (5) and Mason Holgate (4).
Ancelotti will have been delighted to see Digne – who Noel Whelan believes has been a “standout” performer for Everton this season – thrive at both ends of the pitch, with his best performance in seven games across all competitions.
Digne achieved a SofaScore match rating of 7.6 out of 10 at the Emirates – only Richarlison (7.7), who was taken off in the 89th minute, scored better for the visitors – for his best grade since a 7.7 away to West Bromwich Albion on March 4.
The former FC Barcelona defender also eclipsed his averages for duels won (6.3, 59%), clearances (2.4) and successful tackles (2.2) in north London, to ensure Digne emerged as Ancelotti’s real positive from a historic Everton result.