Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Monreal, Flamini, Ox, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Koscielny, Rosicky, Giroud, Cazorla, Campbell
Arsenal produced a remarkable late comeback to secure a point against Everton at Goodison Park this evening.
Arsene Wenger made a number of changes from the team that faced Crystal Palace with Per Mertesacker replacing Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence, Mathieu Flamini coming in for the injured Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got his first start of the season ahead of Santi Cazorla, while Mesut Ozil’s inclusion ahead of Olivier Giroud allowed Alexis to start the game up front.
The home side had the best of the possession in the opening few minutes, but were forced into an early change, Leon Osman replacing Steven Peinaar after just eight minutes.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had the first Arsenal attempt on goal a few moments later. Picking the ball up, he drove towards goal and fired a 25 yard shot over the bar, but it was purposeful play from the England international.
The Gunners passing looked more crisp than in the first two games of the season and a swift break saw Ramsey flick the ball into the box to no avail. In the 15th minute Seamus Coleman made a poor clearance from his own goal line, the ball came to Oxlade-Chamberlain right at the top of the D and he sidefooted a first time effort wide with Tim Howard static.
However, for the second week in a row Arsenal found themselves behind. The home side were awarded a free kick in midfield, worked the ball wide and got in a cross to the back post. Seamus Coleman beat the offside trap but Mesut Ozil failed to the track the run and the Irishman headed home from close range. 1-0.
It was almost 2-0 a couple of moments later when Kevin Mirallas caught Calum Chambers ball watching, got in behind but poked his shot wide with just the keeper to beat. Ozil looked to make amends for his mistake by setting up Oxlade-Chamberlain well on the edge of the box, but the shot was miscued.
The former Southampton man had another attempt in the 31st minute when a Monreal cross fell to him, again on the edge of the box, but once more his shot was wide. At the other end, Mirallas curled a free kick not far wide and the Belgian had a go from distance after a careless Aaron Ramsey pass.
As the Gunners probed for an equaliser, Everton got a fortunate second goal. When the ball was cleared from deep, Lukaku clearly fouled Mertesacker but awas allowed play on. When his pass then found an offside Naismith the flag stayed down and that allowed the Scottish international to roll the ball under Szczesny to make it 2-0.
While you can certainly criticise the overall performance, it doesn’t excuse blatantly bad decisions from the officials. However, the fact that Flamini and Debuchy were the only Arsenal players in the box when they scored speaks to a somewhat cavalier approach.
Arsene Wenger made a half-time change bringing on Giroud for Alexis, and the Frenchman almost had an immediate impact when he volleyed over from an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross to the back post. The angle was tight, however.
There were claims for an Everton penalty when the ball appeared to hit Aaron Ramsey’s arm in the box, before Jack Wilshere picked up a 54th minute yellow card for a foul on Gareth Barry. Calum Chambers then followed him into the book despite winning the ball cleanly, the referee issued the booking.
Nothing much came off for Arsenal, even if Giroud’s hold up play allowed them a bit more territory. Giroud fired a 66thminute shot not far wide of Howard’s near post as we began to spend a bit more time in the Everton half.
The Frenchman had another shot saved by the American but in pushing forward for the goals they needed, Arsenal left themselves open to the break. Twice Lukaku got down the left, twice Mertesacker foiled him but the BFG looked exhausted on his return to Premier League action.
The manager sent on Santi Cazorla and Joel Campbell for Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain with around 15 minutes to go, yet not much improved from an Arsenal point of view. Ramsey shot wide after being set up by Ozil, but the Welshman got an 84th minute goal back for his team.
After a period of serious territorial pressure, Santi Cazorla picked up the ball deep on the left hand side, just outside the area. He fizzed in a low cross and Ramsey was on hand to poke home from close range. 2-1.
And it got better in the last minute of normal time. Arsenal broke well from deep, Aaron Ramsey put in a cross which went miles over the back but found Monreal. He crossed it back in and Giroud planted a header into the bottom corner for a fantastic equaliser. 2-2.
It was enough to secure a point despite a poor performance, and it should be remembered that Everton’s second goal was clearly offside, but all in all a result we can’t complain about under the circumstances.