Everton 2 Arsenal 1
Coleman 44, Williams 86, Alexis 20

Arsenal missed the chance to claim top spot in the Premier League after Everton came from behind to win 2-1 and claim their first victory since October. Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners ahead with a free kick which deflected in off Ashley Williams and past Marten Stekelenburg. In the ascendency and in control of the game, the Gunners failed to add to their lead, allowing the Toffees to re-group, then level just before the break. Arsenal’s urgency to retake the lead was evident after the break, with Mesut Özil and Alex Iwobi going close. A late controversial corner however wasn’t cleared and Williams rose to head past Petr Cech to inflict a first defeat in 14 games on the Gunners and the first since the opening day of the season. Everton ŵere also reduced to ten men when Phil Jagielka recieved his second yellow card of the night.

Following the final whistle, Arsene Wenger expressed his disappointment with the loss, but he as adamant that the Everton corner which saw Williams head the late winner, should not have been awarded.

“Of course, it was not a corner – you see it from outside that it was not a corner. But I think we have to live with the wrong decision and it doesn’t explain why we do not head the ball after you know. But I am really disappointed because Clattenburg was in a really good position to see that they headed the ball on and it’s not the first time we are unlucky with this decision this season.

“Overall, I do not want to speak about the referee too much, it’s not my problem,’ he said.

What isn’t quite clear was that for a side which has been so dominant of late and on a 14 game unbeaten run, why were the Gunners unable to add to their opener. Maybe certain players felt it was fait accompli and the result was assured. Whatever the reality, Arsenal will have to recover quickly and Wenger accepted that too.

” I think we have to look at ourselves. We lost the game because I feel we started well and after that maybe we lost a bit of urgency because we were a bit too comfortable and then Everton made it very physical. Overall, I believe that from then on it disturbed our game and we created less flow going forward. In the end, we unfortunately didn’t take our chances or two. We didn’t create too many but we had clear-cut chances in the game that we didn’t take. After that you can be caught away from home on a corner like that.

” We have been nine months unbeaten away from home so you have to take that a little bit with a distance as well. You can lose football games, especially in an atmosphere like that and especially as well when you play so many games. We played five of the six games away from home, we had to play the Champions League on Tuesday, we had a difficult game on Saturday. We have to come here straight away again on Tuesday, I think Champions League teams have a little bit of a more difficult schedule,” said the Arsenal boss.

The Gunners started brightly, and after six minutes, Nacho Monreal found Ozil, but the German pulled his effort over the bar. Williams then gave away a free kick as nervy Everton feared the worse. Alexis curled the free kick via Williams and Stekelenburg for the opener. Why Arsenal then appeared to relax isn’t clear, but Everton upped their game.

Enner Valencia and Aaron Lennon went close as Ross Barkley began to impose himself. Everton almost levelled just before the break but Lennon latched sliced his shot wide from close in. The warning signs were obvious and Coleman heading in before the break would inspire the home side.

Arsenal needed to respond after the break and Özil should have put his side in the lead again. The German raced on to Alexis’ cutback from the left byeline, but curled his first-time effort over the bar. Barkley shot just part Cech’s upright as Wenger sent on Olivier Giroud and Iwobi.

The latter hit into the side netting from another Alexis cut back, but from the controversial corner Williams headed in.
Monreal and Iwobi had late efforts and claims for an Arsenal penalty after Alexis was impeded were turned away.

Wenger agreed that Everton’s aggression got to his side.

” A little bit, yes. They made the game very physical, they defended well – you have to give them credit. They played a cup game here, that is a big difference with what I saw recently from them. So they did fight for every single ball. I don’t think they can repeat that in every single game, but they did here.

However the Gunners boss refused the blame the hostile partisan crowd for the Gunners loss.

” No, no. We were a little bit less fresh you know, but maybe as well we lost a bit of urgency when we were 1-0 up and perfectly in control of the game. We thought ‘Okay’ and we started to lose some balls that gave Everton some hope. But overall, no. We are used to playing, you know when you play nine months away from home unbeaten you have that nearly every week.”

No time to reflect on what might have been, as Arsenal will need to recover quickly for a return to the north west on Sunday for the crunch clash against Manchester City.