Cesc Fabregas finishes off a sweet move to slot home Arsenal's second
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Goodison Park
Arsenal moved ahead of Manchester United into second place in the Premier League with a hard-fought victory at Everton.
Bacary Sagna's powerful finish nine minutes before the interval set the Gunners on their way to three points, with Cesc Fabregas adding a second three minutes after the break to put the north Londoners in command.
Everton threatened early on when Tim Cahill headed over an unguarded goal, but Arsenal were then in the ascendancy and ended up securing their second away victory in four days.
Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh wasted chances to give the scoreline a more emphatic appearance, but goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski then excelled in the closing stages with a succession of fine saves as the Merseysiders threatened to snatch a point.
Wenger happy with substance over style
The keeper, subject of so much heavy criticism, kept the Toffees at bay by denying substitute Jermaine Beckford, Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha.
And the value of Fabianski's contribution was underlined even more when the visitors had to survive an anxious finale after Cahill pulled a goal back for Everton.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be delighted with the three points, earned without his side ever hitting the heights and in the face of Everton's spirited late rally, although he may consider himself lucky not to have seen defender Sebastien Squillaci sent off for bringing down Saha when clean through in the second half.
It keeps the Gunners on the tail of leaders Chelsea and maintains their recovery after the shock home defeat against Newcastle United last Sunday.
For Everton, there was only the frustration of seeing their seven-match unbeaten run come to an end, with referee Howard Webb cast as the villain of Goodison Park after a series of contentious decisions that enraged the home support.
Wenger's men, with that chance to move ahead of United, should have fallen behind in the 11th minute when Seamus Coleman's impressive surge took him clear of Gael Clichy, but Cahill's header was uncharacteristically wayward with the goal at his mercy.
After surviving an early period of pressure unscathed, Arsenal's confidence increased throughout the first half and Andrey Arshavin twice flashed shots wide as they started to exert their authority.
The visitors' reward came nine minutes before the interval as they showed greater sharpness to punish Everton. The Gunners reacted quicker after Howard saved from Nasri, with Arshavin pulling the ball back for Sagna to fire in high at the keeper's near post.
Both sides made changes at the start of the second half, with Jack Wilshere - who had been on the receiving end of some rough treatment from John Heitinga - replaced by Denilson. Heitinga, whose approach ran the risk of receiving a red card from referee Webb, who sent him off in the 2010 World Cup final in July, was removed in favour of Jack Rodwell.
It was Arsenal's change that had the greater effect as they doubled their lead three minutes after the break. After winning possession in midfield, Denilson linked with Chamakh and he set up Fabregas for a low, composed finish.
The home side needed a swift response, and Rodwell almost provided it, only to fire narrowly wide after good work by Pienaar.
The Gunners were primed to take advantage of Everton's increasing desperation, and twice in a matter of seconds on the hour they came close to extending their advantage.
Moyes 'no complaints' with defeat
Nasri cruised past Phil Jagielka only to be blocked by Howard, before Chamakh turned Fabregas's cross over an open goal from only six yards.
The Toffees were struggling to test Fabianski, prompting Moyes to make a double change by replacing the disappointing Mikel Arteta and Phil Neville with Yakubu and Beckford. They had the desired effect of injecting some threat into Everton's attacking efforts.
And it was Beckford who forced Fabianski into his first serious save with nine minutes left, the keeper diving to his left to turn away the striker's shot on the turn.
Having forced Fabianski into action once, the Merseysiders then turned up the pressure and the Arsenal keeper was impressive again as he saved from Pienaar and Saha.
Cahill then set up a tense finish by scrambling home from close range, but Wenger's men hung on for victory to leave Everton frustrated that their late surge came to nothing.
Everton manager David Moyes: "I can't really feel as if we deserved an awful lot. "I don't think we played all that well.
"I didn't think there was much in the game before the first goal. I didn't
think Arsenal were great and I don't think we were.
"I thought we created one or two chances which on another day we might have scored."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "The team has shown great spirit," he said. "We were hanging on a bit at the end but I am satisfied with 2-1.
"The most important qualities we showed were discipline, commitment, honest desire, 100% focus for 90 minutes.
"That got us the three points - if you come here without that you don't get the three points."
90:00+4:17 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+3:30 The ball is sent over by Seamus Coleman, Lukasz Fabianski makes a save.
90:00+2:47 Lukasz Fabianski takes the direct free kick.
90:00+2:47 Booking Seamus Coleman booked for dissent.
90:00+2:36 Seamus Coleman challenges Tomas Rosicky unfairly and gives away a free kick.
88:57 Substitution Emmanuel Eboue joins the action as a substitute, replacing Marouane Chamakh.
88:20 Assist on the goal came from Louis Saha.
88:20 GOAL - Tim Cahill:Everton 1 - 2 Arsenal Goal scored by Tim Cahill from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Everton 1-2 Arsenal.
87:39 Shot by Louis Saha from 20 yards. Save made by Lukasz Fabianski. Steven Pienaar sends in a cross,
85:55 Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Sebastien Squillaci.
85:28 Leighton Baines takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Marouane Chamakh.
85:17 The ball is crossed by Leighton Baines, save by Lukasz Fabianski.
84:02 Unfair challenge on Louis Saha by Bacary Sagna results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Steven Pienaar.
83:14 Effort on goal by Steven Pienaar from 20 yards. Save by Lukasz Fabianski.
81:15 Jermaine Beckford is ruled offside. Lukasz Fabianski takes the free kick.
80:02 Shot from 18 yards from Jermaine Beckford. Save by Lukasz Fabianski. Leighton Baines takes the inswinging corner, Louis Saha
produces a header from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.
77:25 Seamus Coleman sends in a cross, clearance by Gael Clichy. Jack Rodwell produces a right-footed shot from outside the penalty
box and misses left.
75:11 The ball is crossed by Seamus Coleman, Alex Song makes a clearance. Corner taken by Leighton Baines, Ayegbeni Yakubu produces
a cross, clearance made by Johan Djourou.
72:55 Jermaine Beckford gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky. Direct free kick taken by Neves Denilson.
72:03 Neves Denilson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Louis Saha. Free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
70:14 Foul by Bacary Sagna on Tim Cahill, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
68:06 Free kick taken by Francesc Fabregas.
68:06 Substitution Phil Neville leaves the field to be replaced by Jermaine Beckford.
68:06 Substitution (Everton) makes a substitution, with Ayegbeni Yakubu coming on for Mikel Arteta.
68:06 Foul by Tim Cahill on Marouane Chamakh, free kick awarded.
65:50 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Francesc Fabregas by Steven Pienaar. Francesc Fabregas produces a shot on goal
direct from the free kick, blocked by Phil Jagielka.
64:55 Substitution Andrey Arshavin goes off and Tomas Rosicky comes on.
64:55 Neves Denilson produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.
63:10 Mikel Arteta crosses the ball, Alex Song manages to make a clearance. A cross is delivered by Seamus Coleman, clearance made
by Samir Nasri.
61:54 Louis Saha takes a shot. Alex Song gets a block in. Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the left by-line, Johan
Djourou manages to make a clearance.
61:18 Louis Saha is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
60:22 Strike by Marouane Chamakh from inside the six-yard box clear the bar.
60:01 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Tim Howard makes a save.
59:45 The ball is sent over by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Francesc Fabregas.
59:14 Unfair challenge on Leighton Baines by Alex Song results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Mikel
Arteta from left channel, Bacary Sagna makes a clearance.
57:46 Foul by Seamus Coleman on Francesc Fabregas, free kick awarded. Lukasz Fabianski takes the direct free kick.
56:31 Effort on goal by Jack Rodwell from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
55:24 Steven Pienaar delivers the ball, Samir Nasri manages to make a clearance.
54:37 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Neves Denilson. Sylvain Distin restarts play with the free kick.
53:58 The assistant referee signals for offside against Andrey Arshavin. Tim Howard restarts play with the free kick.
51:26 Tim Howard takes the direct free kick.
51:26 Booking Francesc Fabregas is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
50:20 Unfair challenge on Sylvain Distin by Francesc Fabregas results in a free kick.
48:39 Leighton Baines has an effort direct from the free kick, Lukasz Fabianski makes a save.
48:39 Booking Booking for Sebastien Squillaci for unsporting behaviour.
48:35 Sebastien Squillaci concedes a free kick for a foul on Louis Saha.
47:38 Marouane Chamakh provided the assist for the goal.
47:38 GOAL - Francesc Fabregas:Everton 0 - 2 Arsenal Goal scored by Francesc Fabregas from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Everton 0-2 Arsenal.
46:43 Shot from 25 yards by Francesc Fabregas. Save made by Tim Howard.
45:16 Tim Cahill concedes a free kick for a foul on Neves Denilson. Johan Djourou takes the free kick.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:01 Substitution Jack Rodwell is brought on as a substitute for Johnny Heitinga.
45:01 Substitution Neves Denilson replaces Jack Wilshere.
45:00+1:28 It is the end of the first-half.
45:00+0:06 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Mikel Arteta.
44:27 Foul by Johan Djourou on Steven Pienaar, free kick awarded. Mikel Arteta restarts play with the free kick.
42:46 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta from the right by-line, clearance by Marouane Chamakh.
42:35 The ball is delivered by Leighton Baines, clearance by Jack Wilshere.
40:33 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Johnny Heitinga. Direct free kick taken by Gael Clichy.
39:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Mikel Arteta on Francesc Fabregas. Francesc Fabregas takes the free kick.
36:18 Gael Clichy challenges Seamus Coleman unfairly and gives away a free kick. Phil Neville restarts play with the free kick.
Bacary Sagna challenges Leighton Baines unfairly and gives away a free kick. Leighton Baines crosses the ball in from the
free kick, clearance by Marouane Chamakh.
35:10 Andrey Arshavin provided the assist for the goal.
35:10 GOAL - Bacary Sagna:Everton 0 - 1 Arsenal Bacary Sagna finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal. Everton
35:06 Shot by Samir Nasri. Tim Howard makes a save.
33:35 Bacary Sagna delivers the ball, clearance made by Phil Jagielka. Shot from just outside the box by Alex Song goes over the
33:17 The referee blows for offside. Sebastien Squillaci takes the free kick.
31:05 The ball is sent over by Francesc Fabregas, clearance by Seamus Coleman.
29:28 The assistant referee signals for offside against Tim Cahill. Free kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
28:42 Foul by Alex Song on Louis Saha, free kick awarded. Sylvain Distin takes the direct free kick.
27:39 Samir Nasri produces a cross, Phil Neville manages to make a clearance.
27:21 Samir Nasri sends in a cross, clearance by Sylvain Distin.
26:21 Louis Saha has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
25:24 Direct free kick taken by Sebastien Squillaci.
25:24 Booking Booking for Johnny Heitinga for unsporting behaviour.
25:15 Jack Wilshere fouled by Johnny Heitinga, the ref awards a free kick.
23:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phil Jagielka by Francesc Fabregas. Phil Jagielka restarts play with the free
kick. The assistant referee flags for offside against Tim Cahill. Indirect free kick taken by Sebastien Squillaci.
22:45 A cross is delivered by Tim Cahill, Johan Djourou manages to make a clearance.
21:52 Phil Neville gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrey Arshavin. Gael Clichy takes the free kick.
20:02 Jack Wilshere takes a shot. Blocked by Phil Jagielka. Corner taken by Jack Wilshere.
19:03 Handball by Steven Pienaar. Direct free kick taken by Sebastien Squillaci.
17:09 Effort from just outside the area by Andrey Arshavin goes over the target.
15:37 Effort from outside the penalty box by Andrey Arshavin goes wide left of the target.
15:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Johnny Heitinga on Alex Song. Free kick taken by Francesc Fabregas.
14:19 Seamus Coleman takes a shot. Lukasz Fabianski makes a save. Marouane Chamakh fouled by Sylvain Distin, the ref awards a free
kick. Francesc Fabregas restarts play with the free kick.
12:35 Tim Cahill gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere. Francesc Fabregas restarts play with the free
10:43 Seamus Coleman crosses the ball, Header from deep inside the area by Tim Cahill goes over the bar.
10:16 Samir Nasri takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Sylvain Distin manages to make a clearance.
9:59 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Blocked by Sylvain Distin.
9:08 Louis Saha sends in a cross, clearance made by Gael Clichy.
7:12 Gael Clichy challenges Seamus Coleman unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Mikel Arteta from the
5:07 Unfair challenge on Alex Song by Tim Cahill results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
4:45 Foul by Marouane Chamakh on Seamus Coleman, free kick awarded. Phil Jagielka takes the direct free kick.
3:45 Corner taken by Mikel Arteta from the right by-line to the near post, Louis Saha has a headed effort at goal from deep inside
the area missing to the right of the goal.
0:55 Steven Pienaar challenges Bacary Sagna unfairly and gives away a free kick. Bacary Sagna takes the direct free kick.
0:00 The game kicks-off.
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