Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace as the Gunners came from behind to beat Everton 3-2 at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The win avails Arsenal the chance to stay in the race for Champions League qualification.
The game started on a high note, it began with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring inside the first minute before Eddie Nketiah equalized with his first Premier League goal since being recalled from a loan spell at Leeds.
Aubameyang put the home side ahead after 33 minutes before Richarlison drew Everton level in first-half stoppage time. However, Aubameyang struck his 17th League goal of the season – drawing him level with topscorer Jamie Vardy – to hand Mikel Arteta another victory and remain unbeaten in 2020.
Arteta made six changes from the team that beat Olympiacos in midweek with Nketiah given another opportunity to lead the line at the expense of Alexandre Lacazette, dropped to the bench despite scoring in his previous two outings.
Dani Ceballos, Sead Kolasinac, Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil all returned but despite the Gunners staying an extra night in Greece to aid their recuperation and preparation, it was the visitors who started sharply.
After Nketiah failed to hold onto the ball, Everton won a free-kick which Gylfi Sigurdsson swung into the box. Sead Kolasinac was yards behind Arsenal’s defensive line tracking Yerry Mina and in the ensuing panic, Luiz could only head the ball into a dangerous area where Calvert-Lewin steered an excellent finish past Bernd Leno for his seventh goal in ten appearances.
The goal was timed at 49 seconds, the quickest they have ever conceded in a Premier League home game, and as Everton went on to threaten a second, the Gunners needed waking from their slumber.
Sead Kolasinac was forced off in the 19th-minute with an arm injury and his replacement, Saka, led the charge. Eight minutes after coming on, the 18-year-old whipped over a sublime cross with his left foot which Nketiah dispatched with one volleyed touch.
Suddenly, Everton looked ragged. Morgan Schneiderlin was booked for hauling back an emboldened Nketiah and moments later Arsenal were ahead. Luiz released Aubameyang with an excellent through ball and the Gabon striker bore down on goal before curling a low right-foot shot inside Pickford’s left-hand post.
The first half had a sting in the tail, however, as after a brief flare-up which saw Richarlison booked for sliding in on Ceballos, the Brazilian equalized after more poor set-piece defending from the Gunners.
Sigurdsson kept a corner alive by firing a shot into the turf and goalwards. Mina helped it on and Richarlison got the faintest of touches to divert the ball past Leno as he spread himself to block.
Arsenal used the interval to refocus and were ahead again within 30 seconds of the restart. Pepe made inroads down the right and crossed for Aubameyang to head home. Ancelotti sat motionless in the visitors’ dugout, staring in disbelief at such a dreadful resumption.
They improved as the half wore on, increasingly dominating possession as the Gunners’ exploits in Greece began to catch up with them.
Everton, playing for the first time in 15 days, probed and could have equalized 18 minutes from time when the ball fell to Calvert-Lewin in the box but Leno made a brilliant point-blank save with his right arm.
Leno then denied Richarlison as the desperation in Arsenal’s defence increased. Calvert-Lewin failed to connect with Richarlison’s dangerous cross inside the six-yard box, leaving Ancelotti, now permanently on his feet, exasperated, hands on his head.
Everton almost gifted Arsenal a fourth when Pickford plated Sigurdsson into trouble and Nketiah struck the crossbar. Calvert-Lewin had one more chance in stoppage-time, glancing a header from Bernard’s cross just beyond the far post but Arsenal held on.
Arsenal will welcome Olympiakos to Emirates stadium in their Europa League round of 32-second leg on Thursday night before visiting Portsmouth on March 2 in the FA Cup fifth round.