Arsenal 1-0 Everton: Gunners back up to third with nervy home win

first_img Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud celebrates his winning goal against Everton Arsenal leapfrogged Manchester United back into third place in the Premier League as goals either side of the break from Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky sealed a nervy 2-0 victory over Everton.It was a tense encounter at the Emirates Stadium, where a dire midweek display in the Champions League against Monaco surely played on the hosts’ minds.Fans were made to witness a similarly turgid display from their side but, despite a second-half rally from Everton, they managed to claim a vital three points.It meant another Europa League headache for the Toffees, who failed to rekindle the form that saw them sweep aside Swiss outfit Young Boys 7-2 on aggregate to make the last-16 this week.Top striker Romelu Lukaku scored five goals over those two games, including a hat-trick in the first-leg, but the big Belgian just didn’t get the service against the Gunners, while youngster Ross Barkley again struggled to perform.In a pedestrian opening half, with Everton controlling possession but failing to take advantage of the hosts’ edgy start, it took 27 minutes for either side to land a shot on target, and even then it was well blocked as Giroud looked for goal.Gabriel Paulista was handed his first Premier League start by Arsene Wenger but his early error nearly allowed Lukaku to put the visitors in front, the striker stealing possession after the centre-back let a long punt up field drop over his shoulder.Lukaku would have scored if not for the alert David Ospina, who rushed off his line to punch the ball away and then chased the frontman outside his box to put the ball out with a brilliant sliding challenge.However, the Janaury signing soon made up for his blunder with a goal-saving block, sliding in to deny Lukaku from getting a shot away in the area.That near miss seemed to wake Arsenal from their slumber and they finally broke the deadlock on 38 minutes when Giroud found the net with a neat finish from Mesut Ozil’s corner.Arsenal ended the first half strongly, with Santi Cazorla seeing a curling shot saved by Tim Howard, but it was Everton who enjoyed the brighter start to the second.Ospina unconvincingly pawed a whipped free kick out for a corner when it seemed straightforward enough to catch it, but he later pulled off two crucial saves to maintain his side’s lead, first tipping Lukaku’s arrowed volley over his crossbar before clutching on-loan Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon’s drive.Despite the Gunners’ greater amount of efforts on goal, Everton were the more dominant side in the second-half but they seemed to tire in the closing stages.And – after Ozil went close – Rosicky spared the Gunners fans’ nerves with a late second to seal it, the substitute seeing his scuffed shot trickle in off the unfortunate Phil Jagielka.Seven minutes were added following an earlier injury to Francis Coquelin after a nasty clash of head with team-mate Giroud, but Arsenal managed to hold on for the win. 1last_img

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