On Arsene Wenger’s 68th birthday, Arsenal beat Everton 5-2 to go level on points with Chelsea while Everton dropped into the relegation zone.
Wayne Rooney’s strike was cancelled out by goals from Nacho Monreal, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal claimed victory at Goodison Park
Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette started in the same XI for the first time and it almost paid off instantly. Arsenal came out firing and should have been ahead after five minutes.
Alexis and Ozil combined to free up Aaron Ramsey but Jordan Pickford made the save. Then it was Alexandre Lacazette’s turn to force Pickford into a save, this time at his near post. Once again, Ozil had provided the pass. Pickford produced an unbelievable save to deny Arsenal for the third time. Ramsey squared to Lacazette from the right and the Frenchman turned and shot only for Pickford to save with his shins.
For all Arsenal’s pressure, it was still goalless. Everton weathered the storm and then Wayne Rooney rolled back the years, 15 to be precise, to score another superb strike. Everton hadn’t been in the game at all but Rooney showed his class to curl it past Petr Cech with ease. As for Arsenal, it was a goal of their own making. Granit Xhaka was dispossessed by Idrissa Gueye, then Rooney’s on the ball and it’s in the back of the net.
Rooney has now scored 12 Premier League goals against Arsenal, more than any other player in the history of the competition.
Arsenal had a few half-chances as they looked to get back into the game but Pickford was equal to them. However, in the 40th minute Pickford’s resolve was finally broken. He parried a shot from Xhaka into the path of Nacho Monreal who reacted first to score Arsenal’s equaliser. Monreal has arguably been Arsenal’s best player of the season and he has scored two goals in his last three Premier League appearances.
Just before half-time, Arsenal had another golden opportunity. Ozil laid it off to Sanchez but Pickford made himself big and saved at his near post to keep the scores level.
Both teams came out in the second half with renewed energy and determination to win. Arsenal took the lead in the 53rd minute through a header from Ozil. Lacazette found Alexis on the left and his ball in was straight to Ozil whose header Pickford stood no chance of saving. That goal proved why Arsenal fans have been so desperate to see those three start a match together.
In the 69th minute things went from bad to worse for Everton. Gueye was shown a second yellow card after catching Xhaka and Ronald Koeman’s side were down to 10 men.
Arsenal made the most of their man advantage six minutes later. Alexis found Ozil on the right and then he passed to Lacazette who scored his 5th Premier League goal of the season and his first away from home.
Ramsey got a deserved goal in the 90th minute to make it 4-1. Wilshere, making his first Premier League appearance of the season, threaded the ball through to Ramsey who was unchallenged as he eased the ball into the back of the net.
The game wasn’t over as five minutes of stoppage time followed. Monreal played a careless pass to Cech who wasn’t expecting it and Oumar Niasse pounced on the mix-up to get Everton’s second goal. After such poor defending, Arsenal went on the attack and Alexis dribbled around five players, left Michael Keane on his behind and thumped a shot into the bottom corner.
Arsenal’s 5-2 win takes them up to fifth while Everton are now 18th. Both teams are in midweek action in the League Cup as they face Norwich City and Chelsea respectively.
When Wenger was asked about having a birthday drink last year, he said: “When you win, you deserve it; when you don’t, you need it.” After that performance, Wenger certainly deserves his drink.
Everton: Pickford 9, Kenny 7, Baines 7, Williams 5, Jagielka 6, Keane 5, Gueye 3, Vlasic 6, Sigurdsson 6, Rooney 8, Calvert-Lewin 7
Subs: Davies 6, Niasse 6, Lookman 5
Arsenal: Cech 6, Koscielny 6, Mertesacker 5, Monreal 8, Bellerin 6, Ramsey 7, Xhaka 5, Kolasinac 6, Ozil 9, Alexis 8, Lacazette 8
Subs: Wilshere 6, Coquelin 5