Arsenal 2 Everton 1
( Giroud 36, Koscileny 38, Barkley 44 )

Arsenal stormed to the top of the Premier League after a tenacious and gutsy performance against Everton in Saturday’s evening kick off. Olivier Giroud headed in the opener with a precision header from Mesut Özil’s cross on 36 minutes. Two minutes later and the Gunners doubled their lead in similar circumstances, only this time the cross came from a Santi Cazorla free kick from the left, which Laurent Koscielny nodded in past Tim Howard. In the ascendency and in the mood, Arsenal continued their domination, but found their lead halved just before the break. After an Arsenal attack broke down, Ross Barkley was the grateful recipient of a huge defection off Gabriel from his shot, and past the stranded Petr Cech. Both sides played for the win, and that made for a very entertaining spectacle for the neutral. However it was Arsene Wenger who was left smiling at the final whistle.

With the Manchester derby due on Sunday, this was a simple scenario for Wenger’s side. A win would take the Gunners to the Premier League summit for 24 hours at least, and the first time this season. But the question on the back of their win over Bayern Munich was, did Arsenal want to go and earn this win? Under leaden skies, and at the end of another gruelling 90 plus minutes the answer was an emphatic yes! Something special is happening at Arsenal reasons Wenger. This win confirms his assumption as Arsenal set the pace from the off.

Two early Cazorla corners, and from each Arsenal went close. Firstly Giroud headed wide and then it was Gabriel’s turn, but he was slightly off the mark with his effort.

Wenger had wanted to rest Alexis Sanchez, but said that he’d leave that decision to his player. So Alexis being his indomitable self decided that he wanted to play. His raking long ball out, and Giroud powerfully out jumped two defenders. It seemed fairly too.

The ball found its way to the advanced Özil whose shot clipped Howard’s boot to safety for the Toffees. However, the referee Lee Mason had blown for an earlier foul, which seemed more fictitious than anything else.

Arsenal’s continual pressure paid off and they took the lead after 36 minutes. Ozil crossed from the right, and the ball hung in the air of the North London drizzle, until Giroud rose and glanced deliciously past Howard for the opener.

Two minutes later and the Gunners were two goals to the good. Alexis was again impeded and the resultant free kick was taken by Cazorla. This time it was from the left, the Spain midfielder sizzling over a ball which Koscielny nodded past Howard to double the Arsenal lead.

With the momentum in their wings, Arsenal surged forward with the blue shirted Everton defenders having to work flat out. Soon their pressure was relieved with a fortuitous goal for the away side.

Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to see Bellerin to his right and ended up attempting a weak shot, rather than trying to feed the defender. The attack broke down and ball was at the feet of Barkley. His shot deflected in off Gabriel 2-1 with Cech just a bystander.

The Gunners emerged for the second half intent on increasing their lead. Howard again denied Alexis, and then when Oxlade-Chamberlain fed Giroud the return to Oxlade-Chamberlain created a shot which again Howard saved with his legs at the expense of a corner.

Again Howard was to deny Giroud from Bellerin’s knock down, and as they stepped up the pace, Oxlade-Chamberlain crossed, but Giroud couldnt apply the final touch.

Then a spell from the Toffees as Barkley had a shot held by Cech, after a poor attempted pass out Nacho Monreal, with Brendan Galloway’s swooping header just wide of Cech’s upright.

In between, Ozil’s reverse pass, put in Giroud. His shot beat Howard, but clipped his bar to safety. Back came Everton with Romelu Lukaku’s header on to Cech’s bar from Seamus Coleman’s cross. End to end and an end in sight?

Mathieu Flamini came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain and had a header saved by Howard. With time running out, Cech made the save of the match to deny the lively – if somewhat at times theatrical Gerard Deulofeu.

As the visitors tried to salvage a point, Gareth Barry received a second yellow card for a pull back of substitute Kieran Gibbs. Ozil then fired into the foot of Howard’s post from Giroud’s pass as Arsenal finished the stronger to claim the top of the Premier League.