Arsenal take firmer control of title race with Everton demolition
Arsenal’s young guns were once again firing on all cylinders as Bukayo Saka’s strike and Gabriel Martinelli’s brace helped down Everton to send Mikel Arteta’s side five points clear at the Premier League summit.
No other players under the age of 22 have scored more than five Premier League goals this season but both Saka and Martinelli reached double figures with first-half strikes in a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Captain Martin Odegaard added a third before Martinelli tapped in to put the gloss on the win and leave Arsenal in a strong position as they pursue a first title in 19 years.
This was Arsenal’s game in hand, the original match called off following the death of the Queen, and they went into the contest having lost to the struggling Toffees last month.
That was Sean Dyche’s first game in charge of Everton and things appeared to be on the up, but this loss leaves the visitors inside the relegation zone.
Arteta has Arsenal purring again after a loss at Goodison Park knocked the confidence of his players, the Spaniard ensuring it was a blip rather than a slump as they open up a healthy lead over Manchester City at the top of the table again.
Everton arrived with a game plan which stifled Arsenal’s attacking intent while also giving themselves the chance to launch the odd foray forward.
Saka, in particular, was being well-marshalled by Vitalii Mykolenko and the England forward was having very little impact on proceedings.
That all changed just five minutes before the interval, however, as Saka finally found some space to turn and collect an Oleksandr Zinchenko pass before firing high past his international colleague Jordan Pickford to break the deadlock.
The lead was doubled shortly afterwards, the Everton defence all-but stopping in anticipation of a free-kick being awarded for a foul on Odegaard.
Idrissa Gueye was caught out, Saka pouncing onto the loose ball and Martinelli taking over to finish low past Pickford – the offside flag only momentarily denting celebrations before a VAR check ruled the Brazilian onside.
Leandro Trossard missed a good chance to further extend the lead 10 minutes after the restart but Everton were still in the game, Dwight McNeil forcing a smart stop from Aaron Ramsdale after a strong run forward.
But the points were secured as Trossard brilliantly played in Odegaard to score his ninth league goal of the campaign before substitute Eddie Nketiah’s low cross was turned home from close-range by Martinelli.
Arteta was able to make late changes and give the likes of Saka, Trossard and Granit Xhaka well-earned rest as Ramsdale made two brilliant quick-fire stops to prevent Everton scoring a last-gasp consolation.
Next up for Arsenal is a visit from struggling Bournemouth on Saturday as their hopes of ending a near-two decade wait for a Premier League title continue to go from strength to strength.