Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over visiting Everton on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny scored within two minutes of each other to give Arsenal control late in the first half, but Ross Barkley pulled a goal back for Everton one minute before the break. Both sides had chances in the second half, but the Gunners held on to reclaim first place in the league for the first time since February 2014.
Everton’s Gareth Barry was sent off in stoppage time for his second bookable offense.
French striker Olivier Giroud had served as something of a supersub for Arsenal lately, scoring goals in substitute appearances against Watford and Bayern Munich since the international break. Manager Arsene Wenger gave his countryman a starting role on Saturday, and Giroud repaid his faith with a good goal and strong overall performance.
The goal came in the 36th minute, when Giroud made an intelligent run behind Phil Jagielka and flicked a glancing header into the net from Mesut Ozil’s sensational cross. It was the kind of goal that Giroud alone can give Arsenal, and perhaps that was why Wenger opted for the burly Frenchman ahead of Theo Walcott on this occasion.
In addition to his goal, Giroud supported attacks with consistently excellent hold-up play and showed good movement off the ball. With Walcott also playing well in recent weeks, Wenger now has a welcome selection dilemma on his hands.
“We have a lot of questions about our strikers but Theo Walcott is outstanding and Olivier Giroud is outstanding at the moment,” Wenger told BBC Sport.
Arsenal scored two quick goals late in the half, and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard really could have done better on the second.
Less than two minutes after conceding the opener, the Toffees had to defend a set piece in a dangerous area just outside their box. Santi Cazorla whipped in a great cross, but Howard hesitated coming off his line. That allowed Laurent Koscielny to score with ease.
With better goalkeeping, Everton might have claimed a result from this game.