Arsenal 1 Everton 0

On a day when Arsenal stormed into the top four of the Premiership for the first time this season, Robin Van Persie celebrated the club’s 125th anniversary with a stunning strike that one could sit back and continually admire. Results elsewhere in the Premiership may mean the Gunners’ top four position will be temporary, but the brilliance of the goal will be etched permanently on the 60,062 inside the Emirates Stadium. With Everton’s dogged defence and offside plan consistently frustrating an attack minded Arsenal, it was left to the Arsenal captain to claim all three points for his side, with a strike of such quality and technique, it already could be declared as the goal of the season.

There were twenty minutes left on the clock in a match that Arsenal had poured forward in search of goals. The saves of Tim Howard and a well drilled offside trap suggested that Everton would get a point, but that all changed when Laurent Koscielny fed Alex Song. The Gunners midfield hard man strode forward,and chipped in a ball, and it’s potential trajectory had already been spotted by Van Persie. Eyes firmly glued on the ball, the Arsenal number 10 caught the flight of the ball perfectly with his powerful left foot shot, which clipped the inside of the post and nestled into Howard’s net.

It was always going to take something special to beat Everton, and even their amassed ranks of Blues’ fans will in a quiet moment reflect favourably on the quality of the strike that the in form Holland striker seems to conjure up with ease. Before kick-off, the Arsenal faithful were introduced to some true Gunners’ legends, including Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Jens Lehman, Charlie George and former manager George Graham, who no doubt will have loved the scoreline. But this Arsenal side has evolved into a unit much more than just functional. Theo Walcott and Gervinho on the wings saw a lot of the ball, but could not break the deadlock.

On the quarter hour mark, former Evertonian Mikel Arteta won the ball in midfield, and found the advancing Walcott. With only Howard ahead of him, the Gunners 14 elected to square the ball to Gervinho, when a shot would have been a better choice. Tony Hibbert managed to recover for the visitors. Everton always give Arsenal a tough game and here there they preferred to defend in depth, with only Louis Saha up
front. Aaron Ramsey was also enjoying getting forwards, and did well to carve out a chance that he clipped over the bar, after some excellent build up play for Song once again.

When he switched wings, Gervinho from the right this time honed in on the Everton goal, but once again, Howard intervened to keep the score deadlocked. Three minutes before the break, referee Howard Webb turned down strong penalty claims when Phil Jagielka appeared to handle the ball. By contrast, the unfamiliar Arsenal defensive line up – Thomas Vermaelen at left back with Johan Djourou at right back alongside Koscielny and Per Mertersacker acquitted themselves well, and hardly encountered any danger from Everton. Phil Neville did see a shot skim the top of Wojciech Szczesny’s net and Vermaelen had to be alert to the threat of Tim Cahill, clearing for a corner

The momentum however was with the Gunners, and once Walcott escaped the clutches of Leighton Baines, his fizzing shot stung Howard’s fingers, as another chance went begging. The visitors were arguably enjoying their best period of possession when the dynamic of the game was to change. Song spotted Van Persie, and with the defence backing off, needed no further invitation to let fly for the opener. The Holland striker then went close from Arteta’s corner, to head just wide. To their credit, Everton went in search of a leveller. Substitutes Magaye Gueye and Conor McAleny had chances, but the familiar 1-0 to the Arsenal scoreline was to stay. Henry and Graham applauded as Van Persie has now netted for the 33rd time this year.