By Mollie Bennett (@molliebjourno)
Two goalkeeping errors in the space of three first-half minutes condemned Everton to another defeat against Arsenal in North London.
Tim Howard has faced a lot of criticism this season after making costly errors for the Blues, and his performance at the Emirates yesterday did little to help his cause.
The Gunners took the lead in the 36th minute when Olivier Giroud guided a headed beyond the stranded Howard, who was caught in two minds and failed to deal with the floating cross.
Two minutes later, things went from bad to worse for Everton and the American stopper as he flapped at Santi Carzorla’s centre in his own six-yard box, allowing Laurent Koscielny to head into an empty net and leave the travelling Toffees with a mountain to climb.
Ross Barkley gave the Blues a lifeline before the break when his deflected shot completed a fine counter-attacking move, created largely by Gerard Deulofeu.
Everton improved dramatically in the second half but suffered a setback in the 53rd minute when captain Phil Jagielka limped off with what looked like a serious knee injury.
Giroud almost doubled his tally in excellent fashion when he linked up with Ozil, however the Frenchman’s looping shot crashed against the crossbar in the 68th minute.
It was the slice of luck Everton needed and it spurred them on as they went on to create enough chances to claim at least a point in the last 20 minutes.
First, Brendan Galloway ghosted in at the far post to meet James McCarthy’s cross, however the young defender headed wide of the target when he really should have drawn the Blues level.
In the 78th minute Romelu Lukaku rose highest to meet Gareth Barry’s cross, but the Belgian’s header cannoned agonizingly back off the crossbar.
With five minutes remaining, the Blues had another golden chance to equalize through a slick counter-attacking move.
Mathieu Flamini headed straight into the arms of Howard and the Toffees broke away.
Lukaku squared the ball to Deulofeu, and the Spaniard – who had the whole goal to aim at – looked to have rescued a point for the Blues as his low drive headed for the bottom corner.
The difference in goalkeeping class was apparent once more though, as Petr Cech came to Arsenal’s rescue with a brilliant diving save.
The Gunners had one final chance to wrap the game up in the dying moments but the impressive Ozil struck the frame of the goal.
Lee Mason rubbed salt into the Everton wounds with seconds remaining as he dismissed Gareth Barry for a second bookable offence.