Birthday boy Hector Bellerín, Danny Welbeck and in particular Alex Iwobi – on his first Premier League start – were excellent as the Gunners were victorious in a must-win game to keep their title chances alive.
Gunners back in tandem with stylish victory
Following three games without a win, it was imperative that Arsenal started quickly and effectively took the game to their opponents on Saturday – an Everton side buoyed by their 2-0 home victory over Chelsea last time out, sealing their passage into the FA Cup semi-finals as a result.
They did just that, despite plenty of news rumbling before kick-off that a section of the travelling supporters might possibly stage a protest at both the club – in particular major shareholder Stan Kroenke – and current manager Arséne Wenger, who the media have continuously said is under an increasing amount of pressure to succeed in a relatively unpredictable league campaign, as their best opportunity to win the title is seemingly slipping away from their grasp.
Well-worked team goal opens scoring
Danny Welbeck broke the deadlock, following a well-worked move from the visitors in the Everton half. Iwobi found himself heavily involved and his tricky dribbling ability was evident from the early exchanges as the centre-back pairing of Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka struggled to isolate the 19-year-old’s threat in the final third.
The goal stemmed from eleven passes completed in the final third – between the likes of Mohamed Elneny, Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez. Alexis’ give-and-go pass set Welbeck through on-goal with only goalkeeper Joel Robles to beat, and he flicked the ball past the Spaniard before slotting home from close-range to break the deadlock.
Iwobi scores on maiden Premier League start
Arsenal were certainly in the ascendancy after that goal, and continued to trouble an otherwise lacklustre Everton backline – they struggled to really get going, much to the frustration of manager Roberto Martinez on the touchline. Alexis was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after a late standing challenge by Muhamed Besic, but the referee waved play on – much to the Chilean’s disbelief on the far side.
Laurent Koscielny‘s well-timed challenge set the ball rolling, before Hector Bellerín‘s long ball split the hosts’ backline into pieces for Iwobi to sprint forward goalwards. Beating Funes Mori for pace, he kept his composure and slotted home neatly to make it 2-0 on the stroke of the half-time whistle.
David Ospina was forced into a succession of saves in the second-half to keep an otherwise ineffective Everton frontline at bay, and also injured himself in a collision when attempting to win the ball too. Remaining on the field of play, he managed to continue and kept a hard-fought clean sheet as Arsenal’s title aspirations were firmly still intact – despite the gap between themselves and current league leaders Leicester – who’ve played a game more.