Two second half goals in the space of two minutes from Lacazette and Aubameyang saw Arsenal maintain their dominance over Everton since moving from Highbury to the Emirates, as the Blues paid the price for not making the most of a number of decent chances.
Following the embarrassing and humbling home loss to West Ham last weekend, Everton travelled south to the Emirates stadium still in search of a victory there and a first away win over the Gunners since 1996.
Unai Emery in his debut season as Arsenal manager following the departure of the near legendary Arsene Wenger is slowly coming to terms with the task entrusted to him. Ahead of the game he noted, “We’ve won two matches away and that’s small progress. I think we are finding the balance. Now it’s very important, and our objective, to improve in the defensive moments.”
The Spaniard, once a managerial target of the Blues, selected a strong starting line-up: Cech (c), Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Torreira, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang.
Needing to bounce back from the loss to the Hammers, Everton were pleased to welcome back Brazilian Richarlison to the squad and were hopeful of a debut at last for another summer signing Yerry Mina to bolster the centre of the defence. An area of issue accepted by manager Marco Silva when he commented, “Of course the second goal was one moment with Jordan [Pickford] but the other two, we have to do better in that situation like we prepared. It’s something we analysed during the week. They already know what we did in the wrong way and what I expect in the next game that we don’t do the same.”
Silva waited as long as possible before revealing his starting eleven: Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny, Gueye, Davies (c), Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.
On a bright, sunny afternoon in the capital, Jonathan Moss was our referee.
Everton missed a glorious opportunity inside ninety seconds as a fine through ball by Davies put DCL in one on one with Cech and the goalie came out on top when a pass to the left would have played in Richarlison for a tap-in.
On the Gunners first real attack, Aubameyang beat Kenny to cross for Ramsey, but his close range effort was blocked and hit his hand for a Blues free kick.
Everton weren’t shy of getting forward but the flag saved DCL’s blushes as he failed to get on the end of a cross from Walcott as the Arsenal defence moved out to catch their former player offside.
It was certainly an entertaining opening to the game and a Bellerin cross was laid by to Monreal to shoot, Pickford making a good stop to deny him.
Torreira on his home Premiership debut was rightly booked on 15 minutes for a rash challenge on Sigurdsson and inside a minute, Xhaka was lectured for a challenge on DCL.
A fine ball from Walcott found Richarlison who got away from his marker to fire in a shot that Cech was happy to parry away for a corner, that saw Cech concede a second corner that disappointingly came to nothing. Monreal conceded third corner in as many minutes, but once again, the set piece was easily dealt with by Cech.
Lucas Digne was booked on 26 minutes for an attempted ankle tap on Aubameyang as he tried to break away.
Everton were having the better of things and a nice interchange between Digne and Richarlison saw the Brazilian again try his luck from distance, but his curling shot was off target.
Sokratis was next in the book for an agricultural foul on Walcott on the right edge of the penalty area, Digne firing in the free kick, Cech tipping it over the bar fr another corner that came to nothing.
Arsenal tried to hit back by stretching the Blues, Ozil moving the ball forward quickly, but Zouma and Digne comfortably cleared the threat, ahead of Mustafi needed treatment after a collision with DCL.
Cech was again needed to keep the game scoreless, being quick off his line to deny Walcott on the end of a great ball from Sigurdsson that completely took Monreal out of the game.
Sokratis limped off on 38 minutes to be replaced by former Bolton defender Rob Holding while Walcott received attention for a swollen right eye.
Good work Gana Gueye denied Lacazette as he tried to get on the end of a neat pass from Ramsey.
Aubameyang with a mishit (?) cross saw Pickford need to adjust and punch the ball to safety, but the Blues were soon up the other end on a long ball for Walcott by Keane. Walcott immediately laid the ball inside for Richarlison who jinked away from Monreal and Cech again denied him as his shot headed to the top corner.
Torreira was lucky not to get a second yellow card as he brought down Digne catching the Frenchman on the ankle in added on time at the end of a first half that Everton will feel they should have made more of.
Half Time: 0-0
No changes by either manager for the start of the second half as the Blues looked to attack the end inhabited by another superb travelling support.
Everton were quickly on the front foot forcing Ozil into conceding another corner and eventually a cross from Sigurdsson found Keane at the back post but he couldn’t trouble Cech with his header.
Xhaka played Ozil in and when his cut back was cleared, towards Bellerin, Walcott conceded a corner that led to Ramsey firing in a 25-yard shot that Pickford gathered safely.
Referee Moss waved away half-hearted penalty appeals by the home side as Lacazette claimed Kenny had handballed it, and once again, Sod’s Law came into effect as Ramsey found Lacazette on the left and he gave Pickford no chance with a superb curling shot into the top corner in the 56th minute.
A mistake from Zouma proved costly just two minutes later as Ozil was played in to cross for Ramsey and the ball fell nicely for Aubameyang to sweep home the second while clearly in an offside position.
Arsenal, with those two quick strikes were transformed from a stuttering side to one that now looked comfortable in possession and Bellerin tested Pickford from 20 yards as the home side looked to maintain their Emirates hoodoo over the hapless Blues.
Iwobi replaced Aubameyang for the Gunners in the 68th minute when Blues fans might have been expecting Marco Silva to make a change.
A Sigurdsson free kick found Keane on the edge of the six yard box but one again, Cech made the save from his downward header at the expense of a corner.
Marco Silva eventually made a double substitution appearance on 72 minutes, Cenk Tosun and Bernard replacing DCL and Theo Walcott respectively.
Danny Welbeck replaced Aaron Ramsey with ten minutes left to play.
Two more late corners came to nothing and it really does make one wonder what on earth Everton practise at Finch Farm during the week?
Cech – comfortably the player of the game – made a fine save to deny a right foot blast from Tosun, and then stood firm to clear another cross under pressure from Keane.
Everton, to their credit, kept looking for a consolation marker, but the lack of a killer pass and finish to match and genuinely trouble Petr Cech just wasn’t there.