Arsenal 2 Everton 0
( Giroud 39, Rosicky 89 )

After the European Champions League shocker of a performance and even bigger shock at the manner of the loss to Monaco last week, Arsenal returned to winning ways win a vital win over a determined Everton at the Emirates stadium on Sunday. The performance was more workmanlike than vintage, but that will matter little in the greater scheme of things. Olivier Giroud smartly latched onto Mesut Özil’s corner to give the Gunners a half time lead. The Toffees pressed and threatened through Romelu Lukaku in particular, with David Ospina called upon to ensure the visitors were kept at bay. Tomas Rosicky doubled the Arsenal lead in the final minutes of normal time, the win propelling the Gunners back up to third place in the Premier League, and now only four points behind second placed Manchester City who lost 2-1 at Anfield earlier in the day. A mention of Gabriel on his full home debut. The Brazilian started in place of Per Mertersacker, and in the main grew into the very physical demands of the Premier League, which bodes well for him and Arsenal.

” What was very important today was that we had a mentally united response and we showed that. We are proud of the response that we showed today. Our defensive concentration was at a much higher level than on Wednesday night, said Arsene Wenger.

” We know that we can do better with the ball but overall what was important for us was to respond with a win. We got it and not everybody can produce that after such a disappointment. It was vital for us, for the rest of the season, to win the game today,”

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came in for Danny Welbeck, with Santi Cazorla handed the captain’s armband.

The Gunners early play suggested that the Monaco loss had not been totally eradicated from their systems. That shock fed into the cautious Arsenal play, with the home support and Everton sensing the nervy beginning.

A long ball out to Romelu Lukaku saw Gabriel allow the ball to bounce. Quickly sensing the danger, David Ospina came off his line to firstly palm ball away, and then slide tackle Lukaku giving away just a throw in. It was a let off and relief all around the Emirates stadium.

Slowly, Arsenal began to pass but not completely move freely at will. Alexis Sanchez crossed and Giroud’s low swooping header went wide from eight yards out. It is the type of chance he would normally bury for fun. Then came another Gabriel moment, but one which had the Arsenal faithful warming to the Brazilian.

Lukaku got past Koscielny and was bearing in on goal. Gabriel assessed the situation and made an excellently timed tackle to cleanly win ball back, and then set up an Arsenal counter attack.

From that attack, Phil Jagielka blocked Oxlade-Chamberlain cross for a corner. Cazorla took that particular corner, but soon after a change in personal would give the Gunners the lead.

From the same side Mesut Özil delivered the corner aiming at Giroud, and the France striker’s quick movement and low shot beat Tim Howard for the opener. It was Giroud’s seventh goal in nine Premier League games.

Arsenal stepped up and we saw Cazorla shift the ball to make space for a shot, which Howard tipped over the bar for a corner.

Everton still came forward but the next move of note saw Cazorla and Giroud combine, with the Spain midfielder firing over Howard’s bar.

Ospina, alert and excelling in the Arsenal goal would soon show why he is Wenger’s number one choice ‘keeper.

Ross Barkley found Lukaku, and as the Belgian let fly with a powerful drive, but Ospina produced an excellent near post reaction save. The Colombia keeper followed that up with another low save from substitute Aaron Lennon after Seamus Coleman crossed from the right.

At the other end, Sanchez’s never say die attitude saw him win the ball deep in the Everton half. Oxlade-Chamberlain then fed Ozil, whose shot was deflected over by Jagielka at the last crucial moment.

With the full ninety minutes almost up, Arsrnal doubled their lead. Ospina’s kick out, was headed on by Giroud and into the path of Rosicky. The Czech Republic midfielder hit a low shot which flicked off Jagielka and past Howard’s dive. A third would’ve been welcomed for Arsenal’s adventurous right back Hector Bellerin and his pinpoint delivery. His pacy run and cross teed up Giroud, but he headed wide of the target.

After his Champions League misfiring, Wenger was happy with the performance of Giroud and praised his opening strike.

“It was a great goal. He responded very well and I’m not happy only because he scored a goal but also because of the workrate he put in today from the first to the last minute.

“He’s an important player in the box with his presence up front, even defensively. The worry for me was him lasting 90 minutes. I took him off after 65 so he only played an hour the other night. All these ingredients were important in my decision. When a guy misses (chances in) one game, straight away to take him out ( would be harsh) and I thought his presence would be important against Everton.”

“Olivier’s great quality is when his back’s to the wall – he has the personality and the character to respond. Because I know him better now, that’s one of the reasons why I kept him in the team. He acknowledged that he missed his game and he will respond because he has the strength to do it.”

Wenger also went on to lavish praise on Cazorla his captain for the day.

” Santi Cazorla had a great game as well, our defenders did well… I can understand that we got this kind of criticism after the game because it looked like that but it’s not permanent, it can sometimes be occasional that not everybody is focused on the right things in the game. I believe that we wanted to make the difference too much in the first game [against Monaco] and forgot our basics to defend as a unit. Today we came back to our basics and that was very important to find our confidence back.”

One worry for Wenger will be Francis Coquelin who suffered a broken nose after an accidental coming together with Giroud.

“Yes (he has broken his nose). I don’t know (how long he will be out), I hope not. I don’t know whether he will need surgery or not. He wanted to stay on. He didn’t play here for a long time so now that he plays, of course he doesn’t want to come off the pitch,” acknowledged Wenger.

Having suffered Champions League frustration against Monaco, Wenger was pleased to see the response from his players against Everton. Asked if his side is on the rise, Wenger added, “It depends what you call on the rise. We have three more points than last week and if you look at our Premier League run since November, I think we are in a good position. On the fluency front we can do better but today our first worry was just to win the game.”