Dramatic late winner against Arsenal will help Everton ‘be positive about the future’, insists Rafa Benitez following off-the-pitch turmoil at Goodison Park
- Everton snatched three points against Arsenal with spectacular late winner
- Richarlison and Demarai Gray scored to earn hosts much-needed three points
- Rafa Benitez thinks fans can be excited about the future at Goodison Park
- Seamus Coleman said the supporters pushed his side over the line
Rafa Benitez urged Everton’s fans to be ‘positive about the future’ after his players halted a desperate run of form in spectacular fashion.
Superb late goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray enabled Everton to beat Arsenal and end a sequence of eight games without a win. More importantly, it transformed the mood of supporters – some of whom arrived at Goodison Park determined to protest about the club’s direction.
Marcel Brands, the Sporting Director who quit on Sunday, had said in his departure statement that there were people behind the scenes with different visions of which way to take the club but owner Farhad Moshiri has put faith in Benitez to oversee a transformation.
Rafa Benitez watched Everton snatch a much-needed three points against Arsenal
The Spaniard believes his team have plenty to be positive about after ending their losing run
It will take time but after this richly-deserved three points, Benitez said: ‘We have to think about the future now and all go in the right direction. The reality is that this club needs to progress and this has helped us be positive about the future.’
Moshiri, the Iranian billionaire, has put his faith in Benitez conjuring the necessary improvement in the coming seasons to transform Everton’s fortunes but to get to the level that the owner wants, the Spaniard will have to be a magician.
Then again, perhaps he is. There is something about Goodison Park that frighten the life out of Arsenal and it has always been that way, even in the days when Arsene Wenger would bring one of the finest teams the Premier League has ever seen here.
Wayne Rooney announced himself to the world in October 2002 in this fixture, Romelu Lukaku trampled all over them in April 2014 and there was a head-scrambling night in Ronald Koeman’s reign in December 2016 when Everton won against the odds.
Demarai Gray smashed in a winner in the 92nd minute of the game to secure the win
For long periods, those occasions seemed like distant memories but then you reminded yourself that this Arsenal squad is limited and, with the Goodison crowd creating a furnace, Mikel Arteta’s side melted late on. Arteta was furious with how his players failed to keep possession.
‘Whatever goes on behind the scenes, the fans always come here to get behind us – they did that from minute one,’ said captain Seamus Coleman, who made a crucial goal-saving tackle to thwart Martin Odegaard seconds before Gray raced up field to decide the contest.
‘You take the good times with the bad times and sometimes they get on your back but they are always there. They needed to see a reaction from us and they pushed us over the line.
Seamus Coleman thanked the supporters for getting behind the team on Monday night
‘You cannot get too high and you cannot get too low. We go again in the next game. It gives us great confidence.’
Gray, who has been outstanding since his £1.7million move from Bayer Leverkusen, added: ‘It was a crazy moment, my best since I have been here. It was important to give us that win. I had a feeling that (the win) was around the corner.
‘It has been tough but with the fans like that behind us all game, we deserved it. My confidence is high at the minute. I believe in my ability. I have got Seamus pushing me every day. The fans have been great.’