Arsenal picked apart by magnificent Everton

, 6 April, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
Everton 3 - 0 Arsenal

Everton delivered an emphatic statement of intent to the team that currently stands between them and a first crack at Champions League football in nine years with a stunning win over Arsenal at Goodison Park.

The importance of the occasion, framed by the four-point gap between the two teams before kick-off and the Blues' vital game in hand, demanded a massive performance and Roberto Martinez's men, who have been growing in stature over a winning streak that they have now stretched to six matches, answered the call.

Everton's appetite for a priceless win was evident from the off and Leon Osman came within a whisker of marking what would prove to be a brief cameo with a spectacular goal in only the second minute but his half-volley dipped inches wide of the far post.

The veteran midfielder's afternoon would last another five minutes, though, as he suffered an apparent gash to the head executing a very late tackle on Bacary Sagna and was withdrawn in favour of Ross Barkley.

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And the addition of Barkley's raw power and drive added another layer to what would become an irresistable Everton display, sparked into full life by the opening goal after 14 minutes.

Leighton Baines picked Romelu Lukaku out with a slide-rule pass behind the Gunners' defence and though Wojciech Szczesny saved the Belgian's shot with his foot, the rebound fell invitingly to Steven Naismith to tuck the ball inside the post.

Olivier Giroud went close for Arsenal at the other end but couldn't nudge Sagna's whipped cross inside Tim Howard's far post while Szczesny made a smart one-handed save to deny Kevin Mirallas' low shot.

It was Mirallas, though, who served up the second goal in the 34th minute with another superb forward pass to his compatriot Lukaku wide on Everton's right. Lukaku drove towards the penalty area, cut inside the nearest red jersey and lashed past the 'keeper to make it 2-0 and put Martinez's side firmly in the driving seat.

Arsenal tried to reduce the deficit before half time with their best spell of the first 45 minutes but Howard fisted Santi Cazorla's cross away from danger and then pushed Lukas Podolski's powerful shot over the crossbar.

Everton started the second half in less commanding fashion than they had the first but they were largely keeping the visitors at arms length and as the game ticked into the final half hour, they caught Arsenal cold for a third time.

Mirallas robbed Sagna of the ball inside his own half and raced into Arsenal territory before releasing Naismith. Szczesny again came through with a good save as the Scot tried to round him in the penalty area but Mirallas had continued a determined run to meet the loose ball with Mikel Arteta, forcing the ex-Everton midfielder to prod it into his own net.

Barkley later forced a save from the goalkeeper after being played in by Lukaku and substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hammered a shot off Howard's crossbar at the other end but the Blues comfortably saw out the remainder of the contest to record their biggest win over Arsenal for 25 years.

The win puts Everton a point behind Arsene Wenger's men with six games to play — five for Arsenal, though they have a much more favourable run-in — and wipes out their goal difference advantage, putting a top-four finish in the Blues' hands if they can take it.

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