Arsenal beats Everton 2-0, keeps alive fading EPL challenge
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Arsenal responded to its elimination from two cup competitions by beating Everton 2-0 in the Premier League through first-half goals by Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi on Saturday to keep alive its fading title challenge.
It was a comfortable victory for Arsenal at the end of a week when its chances of winning silverware this season virtually disappeared after losses to Watford and Barcelona in the FA Cup and Champions League, respectively.
Everton produced another head-scratching display at Goodison Park, with Welbeck running through unchecked to score in the seventh minute and Iwobi marking his first league start with his first league goal in the 42nd.
Arsenal moved eight points behind first-place Leicester, which visits Crystal Palace later Saturday, but still needs the leaders and second-place Tottenham to collapse in the final eight games to stand a chance of winning a first league title since 2004.
The result came as no surprise, given Everton’s seven home defeats in the league already this season and a dismal record of only one win in its previous 17 meetings with Arsenal. And so assured was Arsenal’s performance that manager Arsene Wenger must wonder how his team had conspired to win only one of its last eight games in a familiar early-spring implosion at a crunch time of the season.
Arsenal looked dangerous every time it got in behind Everton’s midfield, which happened regularly in the first half. Welbeck had already hit the post — via a ricochet from an Everton clearance — when he ran onto Sanchez’s throughball, rounded goalkeeper Joel Robles and slotted into an empty net
Iwobi wasted a gilt-edged chance by shooting straight at Robles and Sanchez had a strong penalty appeal turned down before Arsenal made it 2-0 by exposing Everton’s creaking defense.
Hector Bellerin lofted a long ball over the top, which Iwobi raced onto and composed himself before sliding a shot through the legs of Robles. The nephew of Nigeria great Jay-Jay Okocha, Iwobi is currently preferred to Theo Walcott on the right wing and was impressive again with his pace and trickery.
Everton didn’t even make Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina work hard for his clean sheet in the second half, its only chance coming when Phil Jagielka headed over from a corner. There was ironic applause from home fans when striker Romelu Lukaku, who had no service all day, sent a weak header at Ospina in the last minutes.
Languishing in mid-table in the league, Everton’s season rests on the FA Cup after reaching the semifinals last weekend. For Arsenal, the Premier League is still an unlikely prospect.