WEARY Arsenal continued to edge their way back up the table with a hard-fought three points to maintain their unbeaten record in 2020.
Two days after returning from a Europa League tie in Athens, Mikel Arteta’s team just about summoned up the energy to leapfrog Everton and move to within three points of Spurs.
The Gunners were looking to rack up a fourth consecutive clean sheet for the first time since January 2015.
But those plans were shredded after just 50 seconds when Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 14th Premier League goal of the season for Everton.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick into the penalty area was headed straight up into the air by David Luiz and Calvert-Lewin leapt to send an acrobatic bicycle kick beyond Bernd Leno from close range.
It was a real kick in the teeth for Arsenal and they were fortunate not to fall further behind when former Gunner Alex Iwobi lashed just wide in his first game back at the Emirates since his £34million summer move.
Arteta’s team were all over the place at the back and their defensive problems continued to mount when Sead Kolasinac was forced off with an 18th minute shoulder injury after an awkward landing from an aerial challenge with Djibril Sidibe.
But that meant an early opportunity for teenage sub Bukayo Saka and within nine minutes of his introduction he delivered a perfect cross for Eddie Nketiah to ghost in behind Mason Holgate and volley Arsenal level.
Suddenly it was Everton who looked likely to concede at any moment and they were picked apart again in the 32nd when Luiz’s precise through ball sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang away to calmly shoot beyond Jordan Pickford for his 18th goal of the season.
But just when it looked as though Arsenal were set to take control, they were found wanting again deep into first-half stoppage time.
Leighton Baines’ corner was only cleared as far as Sigurdsson on the edge of the area and though he failed to make a clean connection, it was enough for Yerry Mina to head on for Richarlison to scramble past Leno with the bottom of his studs.
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Yet this Arsenal team are nothing if not persistent and within a minute of the restart they were back in front when Nicolas Pepe crossed and Aubameyang got ahead of Sidibe to score with a diving header.
Everton sent on Andre Gomes for his first game since breaking an ankle 16 weeks ago as they looked to turn the tide.
But Arsenal were just about to cling on for the victory thanks to Leno’s crucial point-blank save to deny Calvert-Lewin late on.
This post written by Etienne Fermie originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.