Result: Arsenal 3 – 2 Everton
Competition: Premier League
Date: 23 February 2020
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ceballos, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Nketiah
Subs: Martinez, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Torreira, Nelson, Saka, Lacazette
After being treated to clean sheets in recent games, fans at the Emirates feasted on a goal fest that ended 3-2 in favour of Arsenal. Everton scored within 50 seconds but Arsenal hit back with two goals from Nketiah and Aubemeyang. Richarlison’s goal during first half stoppage time dampened the mood but Aubameyang responded with a goal within 46 seconds in the second half to win the Gunners their three points.
This win moves Arsenal up to ninth, a mere 4 points off Manchester United who currently occupy the last Champions League spot.
Arsenal’s last comprehensive win at home against Newcastle prompted Arteta to keep most of the players from that game in the lineup, with Saka being rested in place of Kolasinac the only big change. Eye brows were also raised with the return of youngster, Nketiah, to spearhead the attack in place of the more experienced Lacazette.
But it’s the technical midfield trio of Xhaka, Ceballos and Ozil who got our tongues wagging as we hoped to see their good vein of form continue against a resurgent Everton side.
Despite all the positivity from the good run of results, that mood was quickly punctured 50 seconds into the game with a goal by the visitors. Arsenal conceded a free kick that was whipped into the box at pace. The ball deflected off the back of David Luiz who took a second to realize where it was. Unfortunately, Calvert-Lewin was quicker to the ball. His well-taken acrobatic effort took everyone by surprise and put Everton in front. 0-1 Everton.
Arsenal had to respond by playing their natural game and play it they did. Ceballos’ zipped passes into feet and Ozil’s deft flicks were the main instigators in finding a comeback. The team’s quick exchanges constantly put Everton under pressure but could only point to Bellerin’s long range effort as their as their sole attempt on goal within the first 10 minutes.
Arsenal’s cavalier approach almost got Everton a second goal from counters with Iwobi’s effort going just wide and Mustafi making a last ditch tackle respectively as the Gunners were exposed in search of a goal.
Things got a little worse for the Gunners when Kolasinac collided with Sidibe when challenging for an aerial ball on 15 minutes. It first looked like a head injury but the Bosnian left back was seen clutching his right arm as he was substituted for the promising Bukayo Saka.
And it didn’t take long for Saka to make an impact in the game. He first pulled a short cross for Pepe who curled the ball only for Pickford to make a decent catch. Just a minute later, Saka was close to the byline and whipped in a curler towards the 6 yard box. Nketiah’s predatory instincts kicked in and the young striker darted in and coolly finished to put the home side level. 1-1 Arsenal.
The goal gave Arsenal the confidence to dominate the game and they made their dominance count with a second goal. David Luiz made a confident stride into midfield and picked out Aubameyang with an eye of the needle pass. The vision and weight of the pass were magnificent and its beauty was matched by Aubameyang’s run and finish. The Gabon forward evaded Sidibe, made a clear run at goal and slotted the ball into far post. Classic
Henry Aubameyang. 2-1 Arsenal.
Just when we thought that Arsenal would go into the break ahead, Everton scored a scruffy goal just seconds before the half-time whistle, again from a set piece. The Gunners initially cleared the corner. Sigurdsson lashed at the rebound but it looped awkwardly back into the box. Richarlison was quick to stick out a boot at the ball and sneak it under Leno’s legs to make it 2-2 on the cusp of half time.
If Everton managed to score within the first 50 seconds of the first half, Aubameyang had ideas of his own and went on to score within a mere 46 seconds. Aubameyang showed his elite striking instincts with a header from the penalty spot area after good work from Ozil to free Pepe down the right to cross for Arsenal’s number 14.
The goal meant that Aubameyang tied with Vardy at the top of the league’s goalscoring charts with 17 goals – not bad for a player who has been playing in a dysfunctional team for the first half of the season. 3-2 Arsenal, Aubameyang brace.
The next 15 minutes were an even affair as Arsenal kept Everton at bay when the Toffees cranked up the pressure after bringing on Andre Gomes and the mercurial Bernard.
After allowing the ball to squirm under his legs in the first half, Leno redeemed himself on 70 minutes with an excellent save from Calvert-Lewin. Saka tripped and lost the ball on the halfway line to allow Everton to attack. Richarlison headed down the ball for Calvert-Lewin who stabbed in towards goal. Leno had to keep his body big to block the attempt and show that the last goal was an exception to the rule.
Leno was called into the action again just minutes later as Calvert-Lewin found space down the right. The striker aimed for the far post but the German’s kneeling stance helped to deflect the shot with his ankle.
Arsenal could have wrapped up the result on 85 minutes when Arsenal penned Everton defenders back with an aggressive press up top. This caused Pickford to pass to Sigurdsson who was caught out by Xhaka at the edge of the box. The ball found its way to Nketiah whose shot rebounded off the crossbar.
But the drama did not end there. Set pieces seemed to be Arsenal’s weakness in this game and the Gunners almost conceded a late equalizer in stoppage time but for Calvert-Lewin’s header that went just wide.
Arsenal eventually managed to see out the game to maintain their unbeaten streak in 2020.