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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal extend lead at the top after slow start gives way to runaway victory over sorry Everton

Arsenal (2) 4 Saka 40, Martinelli 45, 80 Odegaard 71

Everton (0) 0

Arsenal made the most of their game in hand over main title rivals Man City with a crucial win over relegation-threatened Everton.

Victory extends their advantage over Pep Guardiola’s men to five points – which is not bad considering they were leapfrogged by City after defeat to them in their last home match.

Both have 13 left to play and it still feels like a long way to go, but successive away wins have got the Gunners back in the groove, reigniting belief that the impossible mission to conquer the Premier League summit is still on.

The doubts had been sparked by last month’s 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge. This was sweet revenge.

For 40 minutes it had proved quite a struggle to shuffle the blue Everton wall around sufficiently to get a shot in edgeways.

Then, almost from nowhere, it was 2-0 and the Gunners were in cruise control.

Bukayo Saka, almost inevitably, was involved in both goals – beautifully spinning around Vitali Mykolenko to put away Oleksandr Zinchenko’s through ball into the roof of the net.

And having bagged his 10th goal of the season, he then set up Gaby Martinelli for his 10th by pouncing on a dithering Idrissa Gueye to poke the ball forward for the Brazilian to tuck home past Jordan Pickford.

A linesman raised a flag for offside, but VAR official Tony Harrington gave the call that Martinelli was just OK.

Now in far more relaxed mode and firmly in control, skipper Martin Odegaard made it 3-0 after Leandro Trossard had scampered down the left to pull the ball back into the danger zone.

Eddie Nketiah came on to dart behind an increasingly static defence and slide the ball in for Martinelli to put in at the near post from three yards. The tracking James Tarkowski was powerless to intervene.

On a serene night for Mikel Arteta, who once again went with Trossard as a false nine, the Arsenal boss was able to bring on Emile Smith Rowe for the last knockings. The midfielder’s season having been much-curtailed through injury, he could yet play a crucial role in the weeks ahead.

Arsenal have an excellent chance to maintain momentum at the weekend when they welcome lowly Bournemouth to the Emirates. Man City entertain League Cup finalists Newcastle.

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney 82) – Odegaard, Jorginho (Partey h/t), Xhaka (Vieira 72) – Saka (Smith Rowe 82), Trossard (Nketiah 72), Martinelli. Subs not used: Turner, Kiwior, Holding, Tomiyasu

Toffees: (4-5-1) Pickford – Coleman (Godfrey 61), Keane, Tarkowski, Mykolenko – Iwobi, Doucoure (Davies 79), Gueye (Holgate h/t), Onana, McNeil – Maupay (Gray 61). Subs not used: Begovic, Mina, Vinagre, Coady, Simms


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