Sagna 36, Fabregas 48
Arsene Wenger made one change from the team that beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek – Samir Nasri returning to the right hand side of midfield in place of Tomas Rosicky. Nasri’s contribution did not quite reach the peaks of his season so far, but his ability to come inside and keep an attack moving is invaluable to a side that look to dictate a game when in possession. A trait so simplistic is often overlooked, yet Nasri drifting in-field, getting involved in one-touch passing moves- whilst granting Bacary Sagna the space to burst forward and maintain Arsenal’s width, has proven fruitful on a number of occasions so far this season.
Whilst the first goal saw both Nasri and Sagna involved, it was more to do with the quality of Sagna’s finish than any right-sided interplay. Nasri had cut inside, but only to shoot and after Andrey Arshavin had collected Tim Howard’s parry, Arshavin rolled it back for Sagna to smash the Gunners in front.
Although the Gunners deserved a one-goal lead, their inability to accumulate successive passes prevented the scoreline reflecting their comfort within the match. Everton rarely troubled Lukasz Fabianski, and in turn, Arsenal failed to make their final ball count. On the occasion where they did get it right, it took a last-gap challenge from Phil Jagielka to deny fellow England squad member Jack Wilshere a chance at goal. Gathering from a neat Nasri lay-off, Wilshere latched onto the ball at the edge of the area, only for Jagielka for deflect his shot behind for a corner.
The half-time introduction of Denilson paid immediate dividends, as he broke up Everton possession and set off towards goal. His driving run was supported with Arsenal players in support on either shoulder and, having fed Marouane Chamakh, the Moroccan flicked the ball inside to Cesc Fabregas who beat Howard for a second time with a convincing finish.
In the aftermath of Arsenal doubling their advantage, Everton were able to exploit an Arsenal midfield that had neglected their defensive duties. Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell both failed to hit the target after arriving late and, more importantly, undetected into the penalty area. Everton did get one back as Louis Saha headed a corner kick back across goal, allowing Tim Cahill to force the ball home and set up a tense finish for the visitors.
Two wins in a week has Arsenal shadowing leaders Chelsea after both Manchester City and Manchester United ended the week without a victory. The Gunners were not at their most fluent during a heated first-half that could have seen Heitinga sent off if another referee had been in charge. Luckily for Everton, Howard Webb was the man in the middle and displayed a leniency that has been all too rare in the Premier League this season.
3 Sagna – 20 Djourou – 18 Squillaci – 22 Clichy
8 Nasri – 4 Fabregas – 17 Song – 19 Wilshere – 23 Arshavin
45 – 15 Denilson on for 19 Wilshere
66 – 7 Rosicky on for 23 Arshavin
89 – 27 Eboue on for 29 Chamakh