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Arsenal go top of English Premier League with win over Everton

By News Express on 25/10/2015

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Arsenal have made various statements in recent weeks, as they have injected momentum into their season and they made the latest one here by clambering to the top of the Premier League table. The position will not last beyond Sunday’s Manchester derby if City were to get a draw or

more at United but it still felt like a moment for Arsène Wenger and his players to savour.

Few teams spark such outpourings of angst in defeat as Arsenal but they have rolled with the punches this season to find a groove, which was again in evidence in this slow-burning cracker against Everton. There were a few hairy moments towards the end of the second half, not least when Romelu Lukaku headed against the top of the crossbar and Gerard Deulofeu was denied by

a vital Petr Cech block but, on balance, they were value for the points.

After the Capital One Cup win at Tottenham Hotspur, the league victory over Manchester

United and the classic Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich, Wenger’s team added Everton’s scalp to reinforce the feeling that something is brewing at the Emirates Stadium.

This was a victory sculpted by two memorable assists, the first by Mesut Özil for Olivier Giroud,

who was rotated into the lineup ahead of Theo Walcott, and the second by Santi Cazorla for

Laurent Koscielny.

Everton’s misery in this part of north London goes on. They contributed fully to the contest and

they departed with regrets but their winless run at Arsenal now extends to 22 matches in all

competitions.

After the fireworks of Tuesday night, and it is fair to say that Arsenal’s Champions League victory over Bayern Munich will live long in the memory, there had been the fear that things could be flatter here. Yet this was precisely the sort of challenge that Arsenal had to meet, if they are going to challenge seriously for the title; the sort of banana skin that they had to avoid.

Everton’s away record against Arsenal might be dismal but Roberto Martínez’s team is studded with quality and they made life difficult for their hosts. With Gareth Barry and James McCarthy screening the back four, there was balance to the lineup, allied to attacking potential.

Arsenal pressed on to the front foot, as they do against everybody at this stadium – apart from Bayern – but Everton held them at arm’s length for most of the first-half. The visitors might even have taken the lead, with John Stones passing up a presentable chance on 28 minutes. After Aaron Lennon’s jink inside from the left and cross, Petr Cech could only parry the ball to the side of the penalty spot, where Stones was lurking. The centre-half sliced his volley horribly.

Arsenal probed through Özil while Alexis Sánchez was quick and lively, as usual, and the former unlocked Everton just as the home support was beginning to wonder where the breakthrough might come from. The precision of Özil’s clipped ball from the inside-right channel, in between

Everton’s centre-halves, was matched by that of Giroud’s run and, when the striker jumped ahead of Tim Howard, he needed only to apply the merest of touches. When he did so, the flick looped into the net.

Arsenal were 2-0 up in quick time and once again the goal was marked by a devilish delivery, which made the chance almost unmissable. After Seamus Coleman had fouled Sánchez, Santi Cazorla drove in the free-kick from the left and Laurent Koscielny, who had timed his run through the crowd, nodded home from point-blank range.

Arsenal had previously threatened only from corners – three of them had caused flutters in the Everton defence – and with the game turned, rather abruptly, on its head, the home crowd might have dared to relax. That is rarely an option, though, and Ross Barkley’s goal just half-time made things interesting again.

It was a goal that had Arsène Wenger, zipped up in his sleeping bag jacket as the rain came down, spinning on his heels in frustration. Barkley was at the apex of a break and there were three red shirts in attendance. He bought a yard of space and, with nothing else on, he swung his left boot more in hope than expectation. But the shot flicked off Gabriel to change direction from the far post to the near, and Cech was rendered a helpless spectator.

It was a bad time for Arsenal to concede but it did not seem to rattle them. They continued to

force the issue in the second half, to hunt for the third goal and the game became stretched – perhaps, a little more than Wenger might have liked.

Giroud, from an offside-looking position, hooked a firm side-on volley that worked Howard while the striker was inches from connecting with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low cross. Giroud did everything but score in the second half and, in the 70 minute, from Özil’s pass, he curled a shot over Howard but against the crossbar.

Everton had lost Phil Jagielka to a knee injury early in the second half and they were always in

the contest, threatening on the counter or, as the game edged into its final quarter, enjoying more sustained pressure in the Arsenal defensive third.

The finale was breathless. Lukaka’s header from Gareth Barry’s cross kissed the woodwork; the Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini headed at Howard by point-blank range and Deulofeu, who

had antagonised the home crowd by going to ground too easily, was denied by Cech. There was even time for Özil to hit the post and Barry to see red for a second yellow card. Arsenal could exhale at full-time.

Photo shows Arsenal goalie Petr Cech.

Source News Express

Posted 25/10/2015 03:54:38 AM

 

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