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Arsenal ease past Everton to reignite title hopes

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Arsenal kept what slender hopes they have of mounting a late title charge alive by picking up a deserved 2-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park in the early kick-off on Saturday. A 12-pass move was completed perfectly by Danny Welbeck as he rounded the keeper to tap the ball into an empty net to put Arsenal ahead in the 7th minute, before Alex Iwobi celebrated his first Premier League start for Arsenal scoring his maiden goal for the club, latching onto Hector Bellerin's early ball and finishing expertly between Joel Robles' legs.

Everton made just one change to the side that beat Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend with the suspended Gareth Barry replaced by Muhamed Besic in the heart of midfield. Arsenal meanwhile also made just the solitary change to the side that were beaten by Barcelona in Catalunya on Wednesday with the injured Mathieu Flamini replaced by Francis Coquelin.

 

Everton made a bright start to the game with their first chance falling to Seamus Coleman, who hit the side netting in the early exchanges. Arsenal almost went down the other end and scored in what would have been fortuitous fashion with a clearance hitting Danny Welbeck and then hitting the woodwork as Goodison Park collectively released their breath.

It wasn't long after though that Arsenal did score with a neat passing move from the Gunners seeing Mesut Ozil play the ball to Alexis Sanchez, who came in off the right wing and played a perfectly weighted ball to Welbeck, who had time to burn to dance around Joel Robles and tuck the ball into an empty net.

After an open start the game settled into a comfortable pattern for Arsenal, who were considerably sharper and definitely didn't look like the side who were playing for a second time this week. The Gunners were quicker to the second balls, closing Everton down and giving their hosts little space to work with.

Arsenal were unlucky to be denied a penalty when Alexis Sanchez was tripped in the box by Besic, but the Chilean was almost too honest initially before belatedly going down and Referee Mark Clattenburg decided against awarding the Gunners a spotkick for the earlier foul for which anywhere else on the pitch he would surely have called play back.

Arsenal did get a second goal that their general play deserved, but it came from a rare early ball from Hector Bellerin, who played Alex Iwobi through on goal. The Nigerian could have squared the ball, but showed good composure to take his time and play the ball under the on rushing Robles to put the Gunners two ahead.

The second half was not as attractive as the first with Arsenal prepared to sit back and see out their advantage, and looking increasingly leggy as the game wore on. It was also a bruising affair with David Ospina and Mesut Ozil both picking up knocks.

Arsenal were unlucky to be denied a third when Olivier Giroud's header, after the Frenchman rose brilliantly to meet a cross, was planted into the bottom corner, but the referee waved away the goal for a presumed foul by the striker on Phil Jagielka in the build up play. The decision was harsh on Arsenal with replays indicating that the goal really should have stood and Giroud had not impeded the Englishman in any way.

The game finished 2-0 to Arsenal, fairly comfortably in the end against an Everton side that never really turned up on the day.

The win sees Arsenal close the gap to Premier League Leicester City to 8 points with both teams having 8 games to play. Leicester though will be hoping to make that double digits again when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Palace later today. Arsenal have a rare week off to prepare for Watford's second visit in three weeks as they take on their FA Cup conquerors at the Emirates on Saturday, 2nd April.

Teams:

Everton: Robles, Baines, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Coleman, McCarthy, Besic (Stones 46'), Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley (Deulofeu 73'), Lukaku.

Subs: Howard, Stones, Kone, Niasse, Deulofeu, Osman, Galloway.

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi (Chambers 86'), Ozil (Gibbs 74'), Alexis, Welbeck (Giroud 75').

Subs: Macey, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Chambers, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud.

Final Score: Everton 0-2 Arsenal (Welbeck 7', Iwobi 42')