Arsenal 1 Everton 1
( Özil 80, Deulofeu 84 )

Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to five points with a gutsy performance from both sides. Ten minutes before time, Mesut Özil scored what the Emirates faithful thought would be the winner. That was until Everton substitute Gerard Deulofeu grabbed a well taken leveller six minutes before time. With virtually the last shot of game Arsenal could have won through Olivier Giroud’s spectacular long range effort. Tim Howard was beaten, but the ball crashed into the corner of the bar and the upright.

Not many teams will come to the Emirates and dictate the tempo and possession of the game. Under Roberto Martinez, Everton seem a side rejuvenated as exemplified with their midweek win at Old Trafford. With Manchester United brushed aside, Arsenal knew that they had to be focussed and show willing to overcome the Merseysiders. The early exchanges however were all in favour of the side in blue, as Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Özil struggled to make an impact, and also deal with the visitors’ energy levels.

Mikel Arteta was again given the captain’s armband and against the side where he made his name, Arteta struggled, with Aaron Ramsey following a similar pattern. It was a nervous Arsenal, one which we could not have imagined would’ve turned up with so much riding on a home win.

Kevin Mirallas and on loan Romelu Lukaku saw chances go begging, but the Gunners should have grabbed the lead just before the break. Giroud received Ramsey’s pass but Howard came out to save with his legs. Moments later and this time Giroud dummied the ball for Ramsey who was clear, but his shot lacked sufficient elevation to clear Howard’s legs again.

The Gunners second half response began with Cazorla’s diving header from Wilshere’s cross. The lack of power from the ball which was just behind him however allowed Howard to comfortably hold the the ball. Ross Barkley is a precocious talent, and the watching Roy Hodgson may well select the youngster for World Cup duties in Brazil if he keeps up with this form. The Toffees potency came from Barklay and when he released Steven Pienaar, Wojciech Szczesny had to make the save. With Lukaku about to pounce, Szczesny blocked with his legs.

Arsenal were lacking width, and Everton were content to attack Carl Jenskinson, through Oviedo. It couldn’t continue and Arsene Wenger made a triple substitution in the 68th minute as Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini came on for Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey respectively. Soon after his introduction, Flamini almost gave Arsenal the opener but saw his effort from range fly just the wrong side of Howard’s upright.

The pressure was building and finally Arsenal took the lead. Rosicky’s cross was headed back towards Giroud who swung and missed. There at the right place at the right time, Özil smashed the ball into the roof of the net for his fourth Premiership goal of the season.

Everton still came and got their reward when Deulofeu, was allowed too much time. The on loan Barcelona player hit a deflected shot past Szczesny. It was agony for the Gunners. Still Giroud’s long range strike could have wrapped up all the points, but on the game as a whole conceded Wenger a point apiece was perhaps the right result.

” It was a very intense game, you have to say Everton was a very good side today and gave us a difficult time especially at the start of the game, the first half an hour. We had difficulties to get into the game. After that we had the better control in the final 15minutes of the first half and in the second half, but they remained dangerous especially in the counter attack, ” said Wenger.

” The regret we have tonight is of course that with 1-0 up with seven minutes to go we are caught back to 1-1, but overall it’s a point and you can say as well, it’s a logical result,” he continued.

Arsenal next travel to Napoli needing at a point to secure Champions League progression, and Wenger will hope his side recover well.

“We had some tired legs, and some problems to get our flow going and we needed some fresh legs. It’s not bad to take! Ideally we wanted seven, at least we got five points. It gives you a little cushion to play in a serene way against the other teams.”