ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • The Drifters, or at least the latest reincarnation of the group, provided the half-time entertainment at Goodison Park yesterday.
Stand By Me was on the playlist and Arsene Wenger would have had just cause to sing along as Arsenal produced a dominant, incisive display to ease to a 2-0 victory over Everton in the English Premier League.
A week of misery, with exits from the FA Cup and Champions League intensifying criticism of the Arsenal manager, ended in the release of a win that underlined why the men from the Emirates Stadium were regarded as league title favourites this season.
Danny Welbeck established an important early lead and young Alex Iwobi sealed the Gunners' first league victory since Feb 14 with his first goal for the club.
The only anger that emanated from the away section was aimed at Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, who was repeatedly advised to "get out of our club".
WE'RE STILL IN IT
Why should it be a two-horse race with one team only three points in front of us? Let's focus on performances and after that we will see how we finish.
ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, on talk that the EPL title race is down to only Leicester and Tottenham.
Roberto Martinez's Everton simply could not cope with Arsenal's pace or movement as they succumbed to the eighth home league defeat of a demoralising season.
Within seven minutes Arsenal were ahead. The pace of Welbeck and the precision of Alexis Sanchez combined to shred the Everton defence. Cutting inside from the right, Sanchez exchanged passes with Mesut Oezil before releasing Welbeck behind a static defence with a perfectly weighted ball.
EPL RESULTS & FIXTURES
Everton 0 Arsenal 2
Chelsea 2 West Ham 2
Crystal Palace 0 Leicester 1
Watford 1 Stoke 2
West Brom 0 Norwich 1
Swansea v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Sunderland
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 9.30pm
Southampton v Liverpool
Ch103 & Ch228, 9.25pm
Manchester City v Manchester United
Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow midnight
Tottenham v Bourneouth
Ch103 & Ch228, 11.55pm
The striker gave another demonstration of what Wenger has missed too often through injury this season by rounding Joel Robles and converting into an empty net.
Everton may have had a free week since their FA Cup quarter-final win over Chelsea, but it was Arsenal, 65 hours on from their Champions League defeat in Barcelona, who were sharper in control, quicker in possession and in thought.
After the free-flowing start, Arsenal stifled their opponents' creative talents and closed off their space. Everton did not, and were handed a lesson.
Iwobi's reward for an industrious display arrived before the break.
First, he challenged Funes Mori deep in the Arsenal half. Ball won, he set off, and, after Welbeck beat Muhamed Besic to the second ball, Hector Bellerin dissected the Everton defence with a raking pass over the top. There was Iwobi, who continued his run, held off Mori and claimed his first Arsenal goal with a convincing finish beneath Robles.
His team continually over-run, Martinez reverted to a three-man defence. The change had its intended effect, as Everton finally contained Arsenal on the break while pressing them back in the final third, albeit without seriously troubling David Ospina.
"It was a very significant win for us and a mental test," Wenger told BT Sport. "I like this group, I like the mental attitude, it has been questioned and it hurts me. When you work every day with them you see how much effort they put in."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS