It was what every fan was dreaming of — their team scoring goal after goal, defeating rival after rival, week in, week out. It was what every critic needed, a prolific striker silencing the naysayers with the right substance. It was what every manager was hoping for — their players to shine when the time was right. It was the mother of all victories, in the eyes of the Arsenal fans.
Arsenal leapfrogged Manchester City and West Ham to take first place for now, since the Manchester derby had not kicked off yet. The Gunners took all three points from their meeting with Everton last night (early Sunday morning, 12:30am Malaysian time) with two headers scored within 109 minutes in the first half by two Frenchmen in their prime. Olivier Giroud continued his fantastic form on the field, while Laurent Koscielny showed that turning 30 didn’t slow him down. Everton pulled one back through Ross Barkley almost immediately after Koscielny scored the second goal but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s men managed to buckle down and hold their ground until after the final whistle was blown.
Olivier Giroud’s first goal made its appearance in the 36th minute from a neat pass from the great pass master, Mesut Ozil. The Frenchman rose the highest to cleverly tip the ball over Everton’s goalkeeper Tim Howard’s gloved hands, and reeled away with glee to the cheers and applause by the home crowd. Two minutes later, his French teammate and Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny put forward another header, this time the pass came from a Santi Cazorla free kick. It was just what the Emirates Stadium needed. A reason to cheer. Giroud went close to scoring a brace but his shot bounced off hard against the crossbar. There were a few more chances created by Arsenal, but as usual, their efforts were rebuffed by Howard. Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey watched from the team’s dugout after picking up a hamstring injury during his national squad’s game in the international arena. Alexis Sanchez was pretty subdued this time around, possibly because every other rival in the Premier League started to wise up about the Chilean’s prolific form this season.
The second half was more dramatic than the first half, with more chances being created and fouls being committed. Everton pushed harder for an equaliser, with a number of near-goals inside the Arsenal box but the Gunners’ super-goalie Petr Cech was there to make sure that no more goals apart from Barkley’s was going to ruin their day. A fine save from Cech denied a Galloway attempt. Despite the match entering the final added four minutes, there was still time for a last-minute drama when Gareth Barry tipped Kieran Gibbs over right under the eyes of the referee Lee Mason. That piece of action was not going to go unpunished, with Barry receiving his second yellow card of the game and his immediate marching orders to leave the field. That was rather unprofessional of the player, as his team had lost and the last thing they needed to see was one of their teammates being sent off for a careless mistake.
Arsenal took all three points and marched to the top of the Premier League table, one point ahead of Manchester City, two points over West Ham and three points away from Manchester United and Leicester City. The result of the Manchester derby between City and United will determine whether the Gunners will stay on top this weekend or fall back to second place. Elsewhere, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho had to settle for a 2-1 loss in the hands of West Ham after Andy Carroll came off the bench to score the decisive goal, leaving the Blues down the table at 15th place. Mourinho is not one to retreat into the shadows after a match defeat. How he would face the Press, now that will be the highlight of the week until next weekend comes along.