Everton 0-2 Arsenal: Gunners maintain slim title hopes
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 20/03/16 10:37am
Arsenal kept alive their slim hopes of winning the Premier League thanks to a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday lunch time.
Arsene Wenger's side took the lead after just seven minutes through Danny Welbeck, before Alex Iwobi extended their advantage with a debut goal on his first-ever Premier League start for the club.
As a result, the Gunners are 11 points behind leaders Leicester City, albeit with a game in hand on the leaders, while Everton remain in 12th.
The visitors made just the one change from the team that exited the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona in midweek, with Francis Coquelin replacing the injured Mathieu Flamini.
Everton, meanwhile, brought in Muhamed Besic for a rare appearance in midfield, with the Bosnian replacing the suspended Gareth Barry.
The home side, who were looking to build on their impressive 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend, almost made a dream start through Seamus Coleman.
However, despite getting across his man at the near post, the Irish right-back's early flick from Tom Cleverley's right-wing corner beat David Ospina, only to strike the outside of the post.
That near miss appeared to to stir Arsenal into life, though, with the Gunners soon ahead after some lovely build-up play involving Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
After the Chile international slipped Welbeck down the right-hand channel of the area, the forward rounded advancing Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles, before scoring into an empty net.
That early breakthrough then saw the Gunners take control of the contest and the visitors could, and really should, have doubled their lead before the half-hour mark through both Iwobi and Ozil.
Arsenal were also unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after 35 minutes when Besic appeared to upend Alexis in the box, only for referee Mark Clattenburg to wave away their protests.
However, after Besic tested Ospina with a well-struck shot from distance, the Gunners did score again three minutes before half-time through Iwobi's first-ever strike for the club, although Everton boss Roberto Martinez will be disappointed with the manner of the goal.
Collecting possession just outside his own area after Alexis had robbed Besic, Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin's lofted ball over the top caught Everton's back four square, with Iwobi running on to the pass before firing through the Robles' legs.
Martinez brought on John Stones for Besic at the break, with the Toffees switching to a back three as Coleman and Leighton Baines were pushed further forward into wing-back roles.
But despite enjoying the lion's share of possession in the second half, Everton struggled to create any real clear-cut openings, especially for in-form striker Romelu Lukaku, who had found the back of the net 25 times this season, including in his four previous encounters.
In fact, the only real scare for Arsenal came when back-up 'keeper Ospina was involved in a nasty-looking collision with Lukaku, but after lengthy treatment, the Colombian was able to continue.
Everton: Robles (6), Coleman (6), Jagielka (7), Funes Mori (6), Baines (6), McCarthy (6), Besic (5), Lennon (6), Barkley (6), Cleverley (6), Lukaku (6)
Used subs: Stones (6), Deulofeu (7)
Arsenal: Ospina (7), Bellerin (8), Gabriel (6), Koscielny (8), Monreal (6) Coquelin (7), Elneny (7), Iwobi (9), Ozil (7) Sanchez (8), Welbeck (8)
Used subs: Gibbs (6), Giroud (7), Chambers (6)
Man of the match: Alex Iwobi