MANCHESTER: Prowling the sideline and upsetting the big boys, it’s as if Sean Dyche never went away.
There was even a trademark headed goal from one of his former Burnley players to give Everton’s new manager a winning debut and blow the English Premier League title race wide open on Saturday.
Table-topping Arsenal paid the price as Dyche immediately made his presence felt and defender James Tarkowski sealed a shock 1-0 win.
There was no such joy for neighbor Liverpool as it slumped again to a 3-0 loss at Wolverhampton, and Jurgen Klopp's troubles deepened.
Victory for Everton was its first in any competition since October and ended a 10-game winless streak.
That run led to the sacking of manager Frank Lampard last month and the appointment of Dyche in a desperate bid to avoid relegation.
After 69 years in the top-flight, there is a lot riding on Everton's latest managerial hire, which already looks like shrewd business.
Dyche led unfashionable Burnley into the league in 2016 and repeatedly upset the odds in his near 10 years at the Lancashire club. In that sense, it was business as usual against an Arsenal team flying highest in the league and looking to open an eight-point gap on second-placed Manchester City.
Dyche was back in his element as he barked orders to his players and Goodison Park celebrated a win that could have significance at both ends of the table.
“It’s a start point. That one (win) doesn’t guarantee the next one," Dyche said. "The way they have taken ownership and pride in what we have tried to do this week, I value that.”
Arsenal lost for only the second time in the league and will see its lead cut to two points if City beats Tottenham on Sunday. But the London club will have a game in hand.
The result also gave hope to Manchester United and Newcastle that they could yet challenge for the title.
United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Old Trafford and was eight points behind the leader having played a game more.
Newcastle, however, failed to take full advantage of Arsenal’s loss when it was held by West Ham to 1-1.
MISERY FOR LIVERPOOL
Liverpool’s season is unravelling after a seventh league loss makes a bid for Champions League qualification look increasingly unlikely.
Wolverhampton inflicted the latest blow to a team that was chasing an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last term. A season later, and after one win from its last seven games in all competitions, Liverpool is searching for answers.
“We better change it. That’s true, 100%,” Klopp said. “I have no words for it really, I’m sorry.”
CASEMIRO SEES RED
United has seen the heart of its team torn apart in the space of a week after Casemiro was sent off on Saturday just days after Christian Eriksen was ruled out for most of the rest of the season through injury.
Erik ten Hag’s rebuild, which has seen United reach the final of the League Cup and a league title challenge reignited, has been heavily reliant on his overhaul in midfield.
But Casemiro will be suspended for three games after being sent off for violent conduct when putting his hands around the neck of Palace midfielder Will Hughes.
How well Ten Hag patches up his team while Casemiro is absent could be crucial to United’s chances of chasing down Arsenal.
NEWCASTLE MISSES CHANCE
Newcastle could not follow United’s lead of fully capitalizing on Arsenal’s dropped points when it was matched by relegation-threatened West Ham at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe’s team conceded in the league for the first time since November, and it proved costly.
Callum Wilson scored after three minutes to give Newcastle a flying start, but Lucas Paqueta evened the score in the 32nd.
The draw dropped Newcastle to fourth, two points behind United.
MITOMA STRIKES AGAIN
Kaoru Mitoma might be Brighton’s latest star find after another late intervention.
The Japan international stunned Liverpool last weekend with a goal in added time to send the holder out of the FA Cup. On Saturday, his 87th-minute header sealed a 1-0 league win against Bournemouth.
Brighton has been impressive in spotting and developing talent. Marc Cucurella was sold to Chelsea for around $72 million last summer, and Moises Caicedo could command an even bigger fee at the end of this season.
Mitoma could be the next one to catch the eye of league rivals. His goal was his third in as many games.
FIGHT TO SURVIVE
Harry Souttar had an eventful Leicester debut.
Fresh from his deadline day move from Stoke, the defender scored an own goal but still ended up victorious as Leicester boosted its survival chances by beating Aston Villa 4-2 to secure a first league win since November.
But it was another difficult day for fellow struggler Southampton, which lost at Brentford 3-0.