Everton substitute Deulofeu denies Arsenal victory
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: Arsenal 1 Everton 1
Everton substitute Gerard Deulofeu struck to deny Arsenal a seven-point lead in the Premier League table as the points were shared at Emirates Stadium.
The Toffees dominated for long periods of the game, only to fall behind when Mesut Ozil netted 10 minutes from time – but Deulofeu, who had only just replaced Kevin Mirallas, netted the equaliser four minutes later.
It was only the second time Arsenal had conceded in their last nine games, but the result means they still extend their advantage at the top to five points.
Everton looked the sharper of the sides throughout the first half, utilising a natural width that the home side lacked – but, for all that, they failed to force a single save from Wojciech Szczesny.
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Bryan Oviedo repeatedly got behind the Arsenal defence to deliver a string of tempting crosses, while Mirallas, Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman all blazed chances wide of the target.
Laurent Koscielny came to the Gunners’ rescue on several occasions, keeping a cool head as he charged down efforts from Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku and brought the ball away from the danger zone.
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By and large, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy maintained complete control of the midfield area and it took the home side almost half an hour to manufacture a meaningful attack.
Carl Jenkinson combined with Santi Cazorla, whose ball across the box was screaming out for a touch, but Phil Jagielka did enough to prevent the lunging Kieran Gibbs from reaching it.
However, Arsenal began to find their feet just before half-time and Tim Howard had to be alert to smother opportunities for Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey.
The Everton goalkeeper was busy again soon after the restart, saving a close-range header from Cazorla and then scrambling across to claw out Ramsey’s attempt at the far post.
But the Toffees continued to threaten and Szczesny dived to parry from Steven Pienaar and Barkley as the continuing stalemate prompted Arsene Wenger to make a triple substitution.
One of the new arrivals, Mathieu Flamini, rifled fractionally wide of the far post soon after coming on, but it was Everton who came closest to breaking the deadlock as Szczesny tipped a Mirallas drive into the side netting and Distin nodded wide from the corner.
However, the other two Gunners substitutes soon combined to set up the opener as Tomas Rosicky’s cross was headed back by Theo Walcott and, although Giroud failed to apply the finish, Ozil gratefully rammed the ball into the roof of the net.
But the lead lasted just four minutes as Arsenal failed to clear Oviedo’s cross and the ball came through to Deulofeu, who evaded Gibbs and fired past the startled Szczesny.
Lukaku had a couple of chances to win it late on, but Giroud was unlucky not to regain the extra two points for Arsenal when his swerving 20-yarder in added time slammed against the post.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey (Flamini 66), Arteta; Wilshere (Rosicky 66), Ozil, Cazorla (Walcott 66); Giroud.