Yerry Mina was Carlo Ancelotti’s real hero against Arsenal on Saturday as Everton recorded a 2-1 win over the Gunners.
The Toffees opened the scoring midway through the first half when Arsenal defender Rob Holding inadvertently deflected Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header past Bernd Leno, but the visitors drew level 10 minutes before the break when Nicolas Pepe calmly converted from the spot after Tom Davies fouled Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
It was a performance to forget for Davies on his return to the starting line-up.
However, Everton’s blushes were saved when Mina headed home on the brink of first-half stoppage-time to ensure Ancelotti enjoyed his one-year anniversary with Everton by moving into second place in the table.
Everton often allowed Arsenal to dictate the flow of proceedings at Goodison Park on Saturday, feeling the Gunners’ toothless nature this season would see the north London outfit struggle to create a second equalising goal.
With the Blues’ backs to the wall, defenders came in for much praise at the full-time whilst having seen out the one-goal lead to claim only a second win over the Reds since 2016, with supporters naming makeshift left-back Ben Godfrey as their Man of the Match.
Godfrey excelled in place of the injured Lucas Digne, never shrugging off his responsibilities to surge up and down the channel with fully-committed challenges and his rapid speed.
Yet it was Mina and not Godfrey who was Ancelotti’s real hero against Arsenal, with the Colombian centre-back a commanding figure that Mikel Arteta’s men could never find an answer to.
Mina positioned himself well to capitalise on timid marking by the Gunners to head home his second goal of the season for what would prove to be the winner, and stood tall in front of Jordan Pickford’s net to thwart the likes of Willian, Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka.
The 6 ft 4 Toffees titan’s efforts would return two successful tackles, one interception, two clearances and two shots blocked, while never being dribbled past and winning four of five ground duels and one of two aerial contests, per SofaScore.
Mina only turned possession over three times as he offered Ancelotti a calm presence on the ball, too, having found teammates with 57 of his 60 passes for a 95% completion rate, including four of six long balls.
He further took 70 touches, more than any other Everton player, scored from his only shot of the game and was fouled twice, double the number of set-pieces he conceded.
Ancelotti will have been buoyed to see Mina thrive against Arsenal on a day his teammate stole the praise.
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