Arsenal defeated Everton 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon, to bring their unbeaten run to 5 matches in all competitions, including 4 consecutive Premier league victories.
This match also represents the Gunners first clean sheet of the season, and the first two occasions this campaign that someone who had previously found the net scored – with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring in quick succession just prior to the hour mark.
It’s refreshing to start a match report with so many positives, but it wasn’t an easy victory.
Everton were out to defeat their biggest bogey team on their home turf, a feat they hadn’t achieved since January 1996. After a few weeks of indifferent results, this match was an opportunity for Marco Silva to kickstart his time with the Toffees by claiming a Gunners scalp. It wasn’t to be.
The game began with visitors being led out by their youngest ever captain – 20 year old Tom Davies. Within their ranks there was plenty of threat: Richarlison had returned from a 3 match suspension and former Arsenal winger Theo Walcott were there to offer attacking flair.
And it started well for them – striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin came very close to making it one-nil after just 2 minutes, but Arsenal’s captain Petr Cech made himself big and smothered the ball before he had to much time to think. It wasn’t the only time the veteran was required all afternoon.
After the early scare, Arsenal settled themselves into the match a little – Nacho Monreal drew a fine stop from English stopper Jordan Pickford after some neat build-up play between Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin.
Despite being a doubt following the mid-week win over Vorskla, Lucas Torreira began the game for his first league start. Supporters had been crying out for his introduction to the team from the off so that he could provide solidity in front of a shaky defence – and he did that today.
He did find himself in the book early though, being awarded a yellow card after just a quarter of an hour.
Another new signing, Sokratis Papastathopolous, had to leave the field before the close of the opening half with an injury, unfortunately. Hopefully just a knock for the defender.
Arsenal came agonizingly close to opening the deadlock in a very unusual way when Aubameyang’s misplaced cross managed to nearly catch Pickford out at the back post, with only the upright stopping the home side from going ahead.
Just before the end of the first half, it was Cech who came to Arsenal’s rescue again, stopping a left-footed drive from Richarlison after the Brazilian got by Bellerin as if he was not there. The Czech keeper got a fingertip to the ball and managed to put it over the bar.
In general over the course of the first half, while Arsenal had the best share of possession, it was the visitors who were making the better chances for themselves.
In an interesting tidbit, today, this fixture – Arsenal vs. Everton - became the highest scoring Premier League tie of all time (across all contests, obviously). When this game comes around, you know there’s going to be a few goals…
And just prior to the hour mark, those goals arrived, with Aubameyang and Lacazette the providers.
If you had settled into a comfortable Sunday watching football, you would have first sat through the drab nil-nil played out by Chelsea and West Ham – although it did bring the Blues winning run to an end under Maurizio Sarri – and then the opening half of Arsenal – Everton before you seen a goal.
But in the 55th minute, after Everton had started the second half well, Alexandre Lacazette broke the deadlock.
He was maybe the quietest of the forward players on the field up until this point, but Lacazette came up with thegoods when it mattered – an what a peach of a goal it was. After some Eveton pressure, the ball was won back by the Gunners and made its way to the feet of Aaron Ramsey – who treaded the ball into the patch of Lacazette.
He cut onto his right, before rifling an effort at the Everton goal, dinging off of the bar on its way in. 1-0, stunning finish.
And then, just like that, another one!
Once the game restarted following the opener, Everton looked disjointed and the home side capitalized when they had the chance.
Ozil found himself with some time on the ball, and picked out Ramsey in the box. The midfielder misstepped and slipped, but the ball found its way to Aubameyang, who was never going to miss from close range.
There may be a little controversy over the second goal, with Aubameyang perhaps being a little bit offside following Ramsey’s flick-on, but the goal stood and Arsenal were 2-0 up at home with half an hour to go.
With 20 minutes to go, the second goal scorer was subbed off, with Emery bringing on Alex Iwobi in his stead. Just after this, Cech came up with the goods once more – parrying wide a Michael keane header from a Gylfi Sigudsson free-kick.
Danny Welbeck entered the field in the closing stages and came quite close to finding a chance almost right away.
In the closing stages, things went a little bit flat, but Unai Emery will not be unhappy with this – it meant that he would be earning his first clean sheet as gaffer in North London.
And that was it, full-time. Everton could claim to feel a little bit hard done by with the second goal, especially after looking decent in the run-up to it, but Arsenal persevered and looked strong at times, hashing out what was a fine result and continuing a 22 year tradition of remaining undefeated to Everton at home.
Really good performances from Torreira, Cech and Aubameyang, a moment of magic from Lacazette, a clean sheet, and most importantly, another 3 points.
With Manchester United and Bournemouth dropping points yesterday, this result leaves Arsenal in 6th place – equal with Spurs – on 12 points.
There’s no doubt about – Arsenal have momentum now, with 5 wins on the bounce. Emery will want to do everything in his power to keep this going, and conveniently his sides next two matches are at home – Brentford in the league cup 3rd round on Wednesday and high-flying Watford in the league next Saturday.