Arsenal have the edge over Toffees
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal had lost just once in their last sixteen Premier League meetings with Everton before the Gunners mounted a challenge against the Toffees under the floodlights of the Emirates Stadium, late October. In the eighth minute from a Santi Cazorla corner, a header was steered wide by Olivier Giroud. Then two minutes later from another Cazorla corner, a looping header by Laurent Koscielny was skied over. On twenty three minutes, a corner from Mesut Ozil was met with a glancing header that drifted wide off Gabriel Paulista. But in the twenty eighth minute, the Toffees responded with a low drive on the left by Aaron Lennon, that Petr Cech, dived to his left and clawed the ball away, before John Stones, miss timed the rebound, wide of the target. After a foul by Lennon on Alexis Sanchez, the free kick was put over by Ozil, but Koscielny was unable to direct his header at the goal in the thirty second minute. But on thirty six minutes, Arsenal got the breakthrough, as Ozil lifted the ball over to Giroud, who rose in the air to power the ball above Tim Howard, into the centre of the net. Then in the thirty eighth minute, the Gunners doubled their advantage, after a reckless challenge by Seamus Coleman on Sanchez, and a free kick was driven over on the left by Cazorla, to the back stick, where Koscielny nodded the ball in from close range. But just before the break, the Toffees pulled a goal back, as Gerard Deulofeu put the ball across to Ross Barkley, whose strike took a cruel deflection off Paulista, to leave Cech flat footed, as the ball flew into the left side of the net, with a minute of normal time remaining in the first half. Four minutes into the re-start, Phil Jagielka picked up a shin injury when trying to win a tackle on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the Everton captain had to be replaced by Ramiro Funes Mori. But on fifty three minutes, a soaring run by Oxlade-Chamberlain, freed space for Sanchez on the left side of the area, but Howard cut the angle out with his body. Another chance fell to Giroud, which required a strong block by Howard, as from Ozil’s raking cross, the ball was played back to Giroud by Oxlade-Chamberlain, as the Frenchman’s well timed volley forced the clearance, in the fifty fifth minute. But on sixty eight minutes, Giroud was denied by the frame of the goal, as after Ozil’s through ball, Giroud blasted a shot against the top of the crossbar. Everton then took off Lennon for Kevin Mirallas. Although on seventy three minutes, a ball in by James McCarthy, was put narrowly wide with a near post header by Brendan Galoway, to squander a Toffees opportunity. Then it was Everton’s turn to be denied by the upright, as from a Gareth Barry ball over the top, Romelu Lukaku, sent a header crashing against the bar in the seventy eighth minute. Arsenal made a change of Oxlade-Chamberlain with Mathieu Flamini, and on eighty four minutes, Flamini drifted a shot wide, after picking up a pass from Ozil, and he could have sealed the match up a minute later but miss timed a close range header from a Sanchez cross. But moments later, the Toffees went close again as Lukaku dragged the ball back from the left which rebounded off Koscielny, and a close range strike by Gerard Deulofeu, produced a point blank save by Cech. Another important stop was made by Cech in the eighty seventh minute to keep out Mirallas’s right footed effort towards the bottom left corner, after Deulofeu turned provider. The Toffees then took off Coleman for Arouna Kone and the Gunners replaced Sanchez with Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal were then prevented by the foot of the right post from Ozil’s low drive on eighty nine minutes, as the ball was put back to him by Giroud. Before the final whistle, Barry was sent off for a second yellow following an infringement on Gibbs, having already been cautioned for a foul on Ozil, as the Gunners took a step forward to top the table over night while their closest rivals Manchester City went head to head at Manchester United, the following day.