Arsenal Vs Everton: Highlights and analysis – Mkhitaryan marvels

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on February 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on February 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Arsenal hosted Everton on Saturday evening as the Premier League continued. Here is the full recap, all the highlights, and analysis of the 5-1 win.

Arsenal were rampant in their 5-1 win over Everton on Saturday evening. It was very much the show of the debutants, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring his first goal for the club and Henrikh Mkhitaryan drifting throughout the game with deadly elegance. Arsene Wenger will be very pleased with what he saw, especially when his side were in possession, and he will now be hoping that, with the new additions making such a quick start to life in North London, they can push on in the race for the top four.

Catch the latest episode of the Pain in the Arsenal podcast here

The game started perfectly for Arsenal. A goal after just six minutes. It was a lovely move that involved all three of their attacking weapons — Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. It was Ozil who initiated the move, receiving possession in that deep, inside pocket of space that he loves to drop into. A sliding pass into the feet of Aubameyang pierced the Everton defence. The striker, with his back to goal, then clipped a lovely through pass around the corner to Mkhitaryan, who had taken up a position on the right channel, just inside the penalty area, and Mkhitaryan fired a low cross into the penalty area that an unattended Aaron Ramsey side-footed home.

The second goal did not take too much longer to find. After Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired a long-range effort that clipped just off the post and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first-time shot was well blocked, it was the work of the two centre-halves that actually brought about the ripple of the net. Mesut Ozil took an out-swinging corner from the left side, Shkodran Mustafi darted across the front post, with his desire and strength of will getting him to the ball first, flicked a header towards the goal, and Laurent Koscielny steamed in with a diving header, knicking in before Aubameyang.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

At this point, it felt as though the game was over. Five minutes later, it absolutely was. Mesut Ozil laid a beautiful touch off to Alex Iwobi, before scampering away down the left flank, receiving the return pass from the Nigerian. He then waited for support, eventually playing it back to Iwobi. A square pass into the path of Aaron Ramsey on the edge of the penalty area perfectly teed up the Welshman, and after a deflection off Eliquiam Mangala, the ball powered into the goal past the sprawling hand of Jordan Pickford.

While Arsenal’s football was excellent when they pressed forward — and it remained to be for much of the first half –, there were moments of worry at the other end, specifically involving Theo Walcott and Granit Xhaka. The first occasion came after a ball spilt to Yannick Bolasie on the edge of the penalty area. Xhaka had been dragged towards the ball and had vacated his position, exposing the defence. Walcott was free to Bolasie’s right. He didn’t see him, dawdling on the ball and seeing the chance go.

The second came just moments later. Arsenal lost the ball and Xhaka should have recovered possession. But he turned slowly, couldn’t cover the ground, and allowed Oumar Niasse to steal in. Niasse then released Walcott with a lovely, first-time, around-the-corner pass, who, if not for an outstanding Shkodran Mustafi block, sliding in at the far post, would have scored his first goal at the Emirates Stadium for the visitors.

Thankfully, the warnings were heeded, and Arsenal quickly returned to their fast-flowing, precise passing. On the counter-attack, Mesut Ozil released Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after some good work from Alex Iwobi, but Aubameyang couldn’t finish from a tight angle, while the influence of Ozil and Mkhitaryan, in free-roaming roles behind Aubameyang, only grew. And indeed, it was the ever-changing positions of the two that led to the fourth goal.

As Alex Iwobi drifted inside from the left wing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan waited just on the shoulder of Morgan Schneiderlin, in between the hapless Everton defence and midfield. He received the ball on his right foot, took a wonderful first touch to turn away from Schneiderlin before slipping in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A beautifully clipped finish later, and the duo were celebrating their connection once more, this time in the red of Arsenal, not the yellow of Dortmund.

Arsenal’s football continued to flutter. Nacho Monreal had two excellent opportunities after some good work from Henrikh Mkhitaryan down the right flank, while Mesut Ozil danced his way into the penalty area, only to see his progress halted by Granit Xhaka who stole the ball off him and saw his shot blocked.

For however good Arsenal were, Everton were equally as poor, especially defensively. Their lack of organisation, communication, and understanding was painful to watch, and the drifting movement of Ozil and Mkhitaryan spun them into fits, time and time again. This was a brilliant performance from the Gunners, and it was only half-time.

Sam Allardyce made a much-needed formation change at half-time, introducing Tom Davies and shifting to a back four. He also seemingly shot a rocket up his players’ arses. Theo Walcott fired a shot into the area that was well blocked by Shkodran Mustafi. He then whipped two very dangerous crosses in from the right flank, the first finding Oumar Niasse who could only steer it onto the post, and the second causing Laurent Koscielny problems, with Shkodran Mutafi having to come across to clear.

And Everton’s improved performance continued for much of the second period, eventually scoring the goal that they deserved. Some nice, intricate play through the midfield led to Cuco Martina finding some space on the left flank. He took a touch to set himself before whipping in a dangerous cross to the far post. Sead Kolasinac, who had been brought on for Nacho Monreal at half-time, seemingly as a precaution, failed to jump, allowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin to rise highest and power home the header.

There was a brief period of worry during which Everton’s enthused efforts drew a rise from the crowd. But after a couple of re-assertive, extended periods of possession from Arsenal, they were able to calm the game down again. As it entered the closing stages, with the result confirmed, the pace slowed and the intensity weakened. That did not mean, though, that the Gunners had finished their goal glut. Aaron Ramsey was keen to complete his hat-trick.

Calvert-Lewin, who had worked tirelessly and provided an element of drive and direction since coming on for Theo Walcott, slid to keep the ball in play. He succeeded, but only presented it perfectly for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian took his time, looked up, saw Ramsey in acres of space just behind the penalty spot, and pulled a perfect pass back for the Welshman to slam home. It was a lovely pass and confident finish. Ramsey was duly substituted for his troubles, with Wenger keen to preserve the oft-injured midfielder.

The goal ended the match and it meandered through to its conclusion during the closing minutes. This was an extremely comfortable win for Arsenal, with a number of players producing excellent performances. But it was Mkhitaryan who was the best of the bunch. His spatial exploitation, the weight of his passing, his acute vision and his creative intelligence. They were all on full show.

Next: Arsenal: 30 greatest players in history

One game certainly does not right the many wrongs of this season. But Arsenal showed the potential of their weapons ahead of a crucial North London derby next weekend.