Alex Iwobi’s first Arsenal strike helps comfortably sink Everton
Lee Gormley | March 19, 2016
Everton 0-2 Arsenal
- Welbeck opens scoring after just seven minutes
- Gunners youngster Iwobi adds second before half-time
- Toffees send on Stones for second-half
- Arsenal keep title hopes alive with victory
- Everton still struggling in bottom half in defeat
Arsenal easily overcome Everton
Arsene Wenger’s slick Arsenal side comfortably overcame Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park to keep their already slim Premier League title hopes alive, with Alex Iwobi bagging his first-ever senior club goal, after Danny Welbeck had opened proceedings from an impressive team move.
The north Londoners kept the pressure on those above them in this enthralling title race with a simple three points gained on Merseyside, with recent England call-up Welbeck rounding off swift build-up play to open the scoring after only seven minutes.
After being handed his maiden starting European appearance in midweek against Barcelona, talented teenager Iwobi then netted his first goal for Arsenal on his inaugural league start, impressively bagging the second of the clash before half-time as his side rallied to travelling success.
Welbeck makes perfect start
Exiting the Champions League yet again in the last 16, Arsenal almost faced further misery early in this afternoon encounter, with flying Irish full back Seamus Coleman striking the post, but Welbeck immediately hit the woodwork at the other end during exciting opening stages.
With only seven minutes gone, the Gunners forward was able to cap off an impressive team move, timing his run to perfection to latch onto a pinpoint Alexis Sanchez through ball to round a helpless Joel Robles and comfortably tuck in.
It was evident that Roberto Martinez’s Toffees were missing the imposing presence of suspended Gareth Barry in midfield, after his red card in the FA Cup victory over Chelsea, with Mesut Ozil and Sanchez finding plenty of space in dangerous positions.
Everton were pegged back by the intricate passing and movement from the Arsenal attack, with youngster Iwobi, the nephew of former Nigeria star Jay-Jay Okocha, looking increasingly threatening, as he linked up with playmaker Ozil after 20 minutes to almost craft another scoring opportunity for the latter German.
Moments later, the hosts finally forced play up the Goodison Park turf, with England international Ross Barkley holding the ball well before teeing up Muhamed Besic for a long-range attempt, with the Bosnian’s shot making David Ospina get down to save rather unconvincingly.
Iwobi adds clinical second
Hector Bellerin was enjoying himself down the right flank on his birthday and the young Spaniard’s charging run and pulled-back delivery on 34 minutes led to a strong penalty appeal from Sanchez, with the Chilean going down under a challenge from Besic.
The South American stayed on his feet for the initial foul, but his delayed theatrical fall saw referee Mark Clattenburg waved away penalty appeals.
Everton were beginning to have more of an influence on proceedings, as Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori pushing forward to help during the build-up, but that proved to be their undoing as Bellerin found a rapid Iwobi after 42 minutes. The 19-year-old then raced into the free space and clinically added a second through the legs of Joel on the counter-attack.
The Toffees held the worst home defensive record in the top-flight at this stage, surprisingly even poorer than even basement club Aston Villa, and dazzling link-up play between Welbeck and Iwobi nearly saw a third dispatched by the latter attacker, though the hosts held out to half-time with a two-goal deficit intact.
Stones introduced in second-half
Soul vocal group the Drifters performed during the half-time break for the Goodison crowd, and it was a fitting act as Everton’s league position was doing just that with such underwhelming home outings, as Arsenal were aiming to add more misery in the second period.
Martinez opted to thrust John Stones into the action in place of Besic in order to solve his side’s stuttering defensive problems, and the introduced centre back had to stand strong early in his appearance to thwart another threatening attempt from Welbeck.
Arsenal’s January signing Mohamed Elneny emphatically opened his account at the Nou Camp during midweek and he was enjoying a solid display in the central area against Everton’s James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley, as the latter pair struggled to get a foothold on the game.
Romelu Lukaku had destroyed his former club Chelsea’s backline in his recent outing, but the Belgian marksman was enduring less of an impact on domestic duty on home soil, with poor end product from the likes of Aaron Lennon and Leighton Baines contributing to his lack of effect.
Ospina flattened by Lukaku
It was Coleman that finally produced a promising cross from the right wing towards frontman Lukaku, but a brave Ospina was able to intervene and halt any danger, with the Colombian met by a thumping collision with the Belgian striker for his troubles.
The South American stopper thankfully recovered from what looked like a painful head injury but was also hobbling from a knock to the leg, though he was able to continue, meaning reserve keeper Matthew Ryan Macey wasn’t needed for what would have been his club debut after signing back in 2013, having begun to warm-up.
Olivier Giroud was brought on by Wenger to replace Welbeck with a quarter of an hour remaining, with the Frenchman having previously netted in three successive outings against Everton, but the towering targetman was unable to dispatch another.
Wenger’s Gunners had endured another European exit at the hands of Barcelona in midweek but they recovered to comfortably claim three points and keep hopes alive of domestic success, with the Londoners 13/10 from Coral to beat Watford without conceding in their next Premier League fixture.