Everton take Arsenal to school with sensational display of football
PUBLISHED: 15:29 06 April 2014 | UPDATED: 08:13 07 April 2014
Premier League: Everton 3 Arsenal 0
Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League was dealt a major blow as Everton took them to school with a fantastic display of attacking football.
The blue half of Merseyside are gaining a reputation for their brand of play with it being likened to the Gunners.
But Roberto Martinez’s tactics were outstanding and he outsmarted his counterpart Arsene Wenger to give his side the advantage in the battle for the final Champions League spot.
Steven Naismith opened the scoring for the Toffees when he tapped home the rebound after Romelu Lukaku’s effort was well saved by Wojceich Szczesny.
The Belgian striker added a second with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, cutting inside from the right flank, past Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen before curling home.
Mikel Arteta’s own goal killed the game as a contest on the hour mark as the Arsenal midfielder put the ball into his own net after Szczesny had saved from Naismith.
The Gunners have struggled for form of late, drawing twice in the wake of their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea.
Arsene Wenger made one change from the side that picked up a creditable 1-1 draw with Manchester City with Nacho Monreal replacing Kieran Gibbs.
Everton, on the other hand, have been in excellent form and closed the gap on the Gunners to four points, while still having a game in hand.
Roberto Martinez opted to make two changes to the team that cruised past Fulham by three goals to one.
Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith have come into the side at the expense of Ross Barkley, who picked up a knock last Sunday, and Gerard Deulofeu.
The 20-year-old was not warming the subtitutes bench for long as he was called into action to replace Leon Osman who was forced off after a collision with Bacary Sagna.
The change did not hamper Everton and they took the lead in fine style after 14 minutes.
Leighton Baines’ ball over the top found Lukaku, who turned and fired a shot that Szczesny could only hack away.
It went into the path of Naismith, who tucked the ball home into an empty net.
Barkley started to pull the strings on 20 minutes and he picked out Baines on the left hand flank.
The England international’s cross fell to Seamus Coleman, whose driven attempt was turned into the hands of the Arsenal goalkeeper by Naismith.
It was not a surprise when the Toffees doubled their lead as James McCarthy found Lukaku with a pinpoint pass to the right flank.
The Chelsea loanee twisted his way past Monreal and Vermaelen before firing a rasping shot past Szczesny to give Everton a two-goal lead.
The closest Arsenal came to scoring was when Lukas Podolski’s shot bounced up and Tim Howard had to be at his athletic best to keep the ball out.
Arsene Wenger, surprisingly, didn’t make any changes at half-time but were handed two chances early in the second half.
But neither Olivier Giroud or Mathieu Flamini could make the most of their opportunities.
Everton did though and made it 3-0 after the hour mark.
Bacary Sagna was dispossessed by Kevin Mirallas, who charged forward. He tried to lay in Naismith but Szczesny, who hadn’t done anything wrong all afternoon, was there to deny the striker.
Unfortunately for the Polish stopper, the ball bobbled free and Arteta, under pressure from Mirallas, put the ball into his own net.
Only then did Wenger make changes bringing on Aaron Ramsey, for his first appearance since Boxing Day, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo on for Flamini, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
The England international came closest for Arsenal when his piledriver crashed into the crossbar with Tim Howard beaten.
But the Toffees saw out the remaining minutes and claimed a victory that moves them one point behind the Gunners, with a game in hand.
Arsene Wenger and co will now have to lick their wounds for next week’s FA Cup semi final against Wigan.
The Latics play a similar style of football and, even though they are in the Championship, they will not be a pushover having beaten Manchester City in the last round.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal, Flamini (Ramsey 66), Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski (Oxlade-Chamberlain 66), Giroud (Sanogo 71).
Unused Substitutes: Viviano, Jenkinson, Kallstrom, Bellerin.
Everton: Howard, Baines, Mirallas, Naismith (McGeady 81), Distin, McCarthy, Lukaku (Deulofeu 86), Barry, Osman (Barkley 10), Coleman, Stones.
Unused Substitutes: Robles, Hibbert, Garbutt, Alcaraz.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.