Lacazette and Aubameyang keep Arsenal on a roll
Unai Emery’s side win their fourth league fixture on the bounce against Everton
Alexandre Lacazette curls in Arsenal’s opener against Everton. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters
Arsenal 2 Everton 0
Alexandre Lacazette scored a beauty, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made the points safe and Unai Emery could toast a fourth consecutive Premier League win. Yet this was an afternoon when the margins were fine and the result could just as easily have gone the other way if Everton had turned up with their shooting boots on.
Petr Cech was the star turn and Emery’s decision to persist with the goalkeeper ahead of the summer signing, Bernd Leno, was more than vindicated. Cech made five stops in the first half that ranked from decent to excellent and, more than anybody, it was the 36-year-old that created the platform for victory. He even made fine saves from Michael Keane and the substitute, Cenk Tosun, at 2-0 to ensure a first clean sheet of the Emery era.
Everton felt only frustration and not only because Aubameyang’s goal ought to have been disallowed for offside. It was not even a borderline call. The Arsenal forward was a full yard in front of the last defender.
The visitors were the better team before the break and, on another day and against another goalkeeper, they might have been comfortably in front. The positive aspect for the manager, Marco Silva, was the fluency that his players showed and how they knocked Arsenal from their stride, at first. There was little wrong with his game plan. The bad news was that they have now taken only six points from their opening six fixtures.
It was noticeable to see that the Emirates was pock-marked by empty seats, particularly in the middle and upper tiers, and the atmosphere could best be described as subdued for long spells. Nobody quite knows what to make of this Arsenal team as yet; they are waiting to judge them. There was the sense of square pegs in round holes, with Aubameyang shoe-horned in on the left and Mesut Özil stationed on the right – and struggling to suppress the urge to drift inside. The natural width must come from the full-backs, Héctor Bellerín and Nacho Monreal. There were times when Arsenal lacked imagination but it would all turn out well enough after Lacazette bent the game to his will.
Everton were more coherent in the first half, more threatening – particularly through Richarlison – while their pressing panicked the Arsenal defence. They could curse Cech from the second minute, when he made his best save. The Everton captain, Tom Davies, found a hole in the left-hand side of the Arsenal backline and he set Dominic Calvert-Lewin clean through. One-on-one with Cech, the striker tried to trick past him but was slide-tackled by the goalkeeper.
Richarlison – back in the team after suspension – was in the mood. He took a lovely touch, rolled away from Bellerín and extended Cech while he would be denied again by the goalkeeper on 44 minutes. Everton could point to the Lucas Digne free-kick that Cech tipped over and the Gylfi Sigurdsson pass that released Theo Walcott in on goal. Cech was off his line smartly to block.
Arsenal’s only clear first-half chance came in the 12th minute when Aubameyang touched back Bellerín’s lovely cross for Monreal. His connection was not the cleanest but it still required a good stop from Jordan Pickford. Arsenal worked Lacazette into an inviting position on 41 minutes only for him to take a heavy touch while an overhit Aubameyang cross kissed the top of the crossbar.
Everton appeared to have Arsenal, who lost Sokratis Papastathopoulos to injury in the first half, where they wanted them. They merely had to find a cutting edge but it would be Arsenal who showed them the way, shaking their heads clear to decide the game with a devastating one-two punch.
The second ought not to have counted because Aubameyang was clearly offside when he converted from Aaron Ramsey’s flick, which the midfielder executed with his trailing leg after a little stumble. Arsenal had snapped forward through Özil after a mistake by Kurt Zouma.
Lacazette’s opener was marked by class and composure. Arsenal were still chuntering over a non-penalty award, after Aubameyang had headed against Jonjoe Kenny’s hand at close quarters, but the moans were overtaken by smiles when Lacazette collected Ramsey’s pass, took one touch to set himself and picked out the far, top corner with his right foot.