Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Arsenal 2 - 1 Everton

Arsenal came from behind to further prove their title credentials in a hard-fought clash at the Emirates.
Everton controversially went ahead when Seamus Coleman's through-ball found Louis Saha, who seemed to be two yards offside, but he fired into the corner.
Substitute Andrey Arshavin levelled when he volleyed Cesc Fabregas' chipped pass in from close range.
Arsenal's superior possession was rewarded when Robin van Persie's corner was headed in by Laurent Koscielny.
It was a crucial victory for Arsenal, who faced a potentially damaging defeat as Everton protected the lead given to them in contentious circumstances for so long.
Arsene Wenger's side showed little of the style and fluidity that is their hallmark but this was about digging deep and getting the job done, qualities they demonstrated and that will serve them well as the season reaches its climax.
For Everton and Moyes there was only frustration in defeat, despite holding Arsenal comfortably for long spells, inspired by outstanding displays from midfield man Marouane Fellaini and goalscorer Saha.
Arsenal remain five points behind United and emerge unscathed from what they believed was a real injustice after Saha's strike threatened to give Everton only their fifth win in 32 meetings with the Gunners under Wenger.
Everton enjoyed more of the possession in the opening exchanges, in which Jack Wilshere was booked for a foul on Mikel Arteta , who was also the victim of a nasty challenge from fellow countryman Fabregas.
As Arsenal established a measure of composure Fabregas was narrowly off target and Theo Walcott could only shoot against the legs of Everton keeper Tim Howard with a shot from an angle.
Everton took that disputed lead in a moment that caused anger to sweep around The Emirates.
The French striker was undoubtedly in an offside position when Seamus Coleman's pass was played, but the intervention of Koscielny persuaded referee's assistant Stephen Child that Saha had been played onside before drilling a fine low finish past Wojciech Szczesny.
Referee Lee Mason, under pressure from Arsenal's players and against the sound and fury of the Emirates, consulted his assistant at length before allowing the goal to stand.
Arsenal responded and Johan Djourou flicked on Van Persie's corner but Koscielny was inches away from applying the crucial final touch.
Wilshere then opened up Everton's defence, Van Persie lifted his finish over the onrushing Howard but also over the bar.
The half-time whistle was met with a predictable chorus of jeering setting the scene for a tense second period as Arsenal set about rescuing the situation.
It took changes from Wenger and a rare defensive lapse from Everton before Arsenal finally turned the game around with two goals in the space of five minutes.
With 20 minutes remaining, Everton's Rodwell could only stretch to direct Fabregas' pass into the path of Arshavin, who beat Howard comfortably. It was the breakthrough Arsenal craved and they grasped the opportunity fully.
Howard saved in routine fashion from substitute Nicklas Bendtner's overhead kick, then quite brilliantly from Van Persie's rising 25-yard free-kick.
Everton could not hold on and Arsenal took the lead after 75 minutes when Koscielny rose to meet Van Persie's corner to spark wild celebrations with his team-mates.
Even then Everton were not finished and Rodwell was only a whisker away from an equaliser with a header from Arteta's corner.
It was the final anxious moment for Arsenal and referee Mason's final whistle was met with a mixture of elation and relief.

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