Everton 2, Albion 0

The Premier League can be a fickle mistress.

One week the high of beating Arsenal, the next the low of losing at Everton and losing three players, one to a red card and two to injury.

The absences of midfield lynchpin Dale Stephens and left-back Gaetan Bong should thankfully be shortlived.

Anthony Knockaert (below) will have a lot longer to contemplate his recklessness.

The Argus: Throw in an impotent performance resembling, albeit against stronger opponents, the only other occasions Albion have really let themselves down with corresponding defeats at Huddersfield and West Brom, and Albion's best day against Arsenal was probably followed by their worst at Goodison.

Even so, if you had given Chris Hughton three points from these twin tests before the Gunners fired blanks, he would have shaken your hand (biting it off is not his style).

Results elsewhere ensured that, although Everton have replaced the Seagulls again in the top ten, they still have a healthy cushion over the relegation zone of seven points, which will surely not be reduced to six when Stoke entertain Manchester City on Monday night.

Everton, dreadful as they have been away, are accustomed to seeing off sides of Albion's calibre at Goodison, where their only defeats have been by top seven occupiers.

Nevertheless, the home witnesses will be wondering how Hughton's side are so far removed from the scrap at the bottom based on a display with little to recommend it apart from customarily sound defence for an hour, led impressively again by Lewis Dunk, and a stunning late penalty stop by Mathew Ryan from Wayne Rooney to avert the heaviest away defeat to date.

There was mitigation to a degree. Losing Stephens to a training ground knock after 46 consecutive league starts, stretching back more than a year to a 3-3 draw at Brentford in the Championship, was a severe blow.

He has become a key figure to such an extent that he had not missed a single minute of action in the Premier League.

Everton's determination to address a decline from ten points out of the first 12 when Sam Allardyce took over to nine from the previous 33 was evident from the first whistle.

They dominated and yet the crowd were just getting restless when Albion unravelled in the final third of the contest to undo all the solid work inside their own area in the first hour.

Everton were pretty much presented with their breakthrough which began with Knockaert, not for the first time, giving the ball away cheaply.

As the ensuing attack developed, Yannick Bolasie was allowed to cut inside to cross to Theo Walcott, sneaking in behind Bong at the far post. The volley into the roof of the net (below) has officially gone down as an own goal. At least the luckless Dunk has company in that respect now.

The Argus: It was the key moment of the match. Hughton said: "My first impression was it was Walcott's goal. I've been told that it came off Gaetan.

"He (Walcott) was a threat all game, but I felt we dealt with the threat. We knew his running power behind.

"We were against a team with a lot of offensive prowess, but until the goal I was fairly confident we weren't going to concede, so it was a big moment in the game."

Hughton reacted by switching to 4-4-2, introducing Jurgen Locadia for Stephens' replacement Beram Kayal and dropping Pascal Gross deeper, but the tone had been set. Albion's passing on the counter throughout let them down and the response was muted.

Cenk Tosun, Everton's £27 million signing from Besiktas in January, sealed their fate, firing in his second goal as many games via the underside of bar after an exchange of passes with Leighton Baines.

Everton's first clean sheet of the year was only seriously threatened by an audacious effort by Gross straight from the restart, which was just too high.

Knockaert's dismissal, following his post-substituted strop against Arsenal, was senseless, a two-footed jump tackle close to the touchline which bemused the evading Baines.

Early in the season at Watford, Knockaert was the victim of a similar but worse tackle by Miguel Britos, who ran further and caught him on the knee rather than, as in this instance, on the ankle.

It was, nevertheless, indefensible. Knockaert will now pay a heavy price for his volatile temperament, missing the FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United and the vital home games back-to-back against his old club Leicester and Huddersfield.

If Solly March grasps the opportunity, Knockaert's inactivity could last even longer than five weeks.

Bong departed with his right thigh strapped. Unfortunately for Ryan, unlike his stoppage time denial of Charlie Adam from the spot at Stoke, the agile Australian's brilliance in foiling Rooney's crisply struck penalty was immaterial to the result.

The Argus: It was given away by Shane Duffy (above right), bringing down substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a blemish on the Irishman's return to his first club.

Heavier punishment awaits if Albion's performance, particularly in possession, is as lacklustre at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.