Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points as they thrashed struggling Everton at Emirates Stadium.
Sean Dyche’s side, who remain in the relegation places, frustrated Arsenal until five minutes before half-time, when Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pass played in Bukayo Saka for a thumping finish.
The contest was effectively over in first-half stoppage time when Saka robbed the dawdling Idrissa Gueye to play in Gabriel Martinelli. The flag went up for offside after he drove past Jordan Pickford but the decision was overturned after a VAR check.
Everton had no answers and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard wrapped up their third successive league victory when he side-footed home Leandro Trossard’s cross after 71 minutes.
It was now simply a question of how many Arsenal would score to improve their goal difference, Martinelli adding his second and the Gunners’ fourth from Eddie Nketiah’s cross ten minutes from time.
Saka Arsenal’s star once more
Martinelli once again demonstrated his rich promise with two crisp finishes but Saka was the star of the show, giving a glorious illustration of his significance to this Arsenal side.
He became the sixth-youngest player in Premier League history, at 21, to reach 50 goals and assists as he ensured the frustration that threatened Arsenal was wiped away in the crucial minutes before half-time.
Saka gave Pickford no chance when he lashed a powerful drive past the England goalkeeper at his near post, then his speed of thought and action robbed Gueye to play in Martinelli. It was game over after that.
Arsenal played so fluently as Everton subsided, and in the final reckoning the scoreline could have been even more emphatic.
The Gunners’ character and resilience was put to the test after the damaging home loss to nearest rivals Manchester City, but they have responded brilliantly with wins at Aston Villa and Leicester City, then this cruise against an Everton side in desperate trouble.
Everton in deep trouble
Dyche started his reign as Everton manager with a win over Arsenal at Goodison Park that hinted at a possible revival – fast forward to this hammering and the brutal reality is clear.
Everton held their own for 40 minutes but even when they got into threatening positions they lacked any sort of bite.
They have not scored more than once for 15 games, the last time coming in a 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on 22 October.
It makes the decision to go through the January transfer window without adding a striker, indeed without adding anyone, look even more like negligence on the part of the club’s hierarchy, including director of football Kevin Thelwell.
Dyche has won two and lost three of his first five games, and those winning goals against Arsenal and Leeds United have come from central defender James Tarkowski and veteran full-back Seamus Coleman.
And the manner in which Everton collapsed once they went behind, showing a complete lack of confidence and self-belief, is a serious worry for Dyche and their long-term Premier League prospects.
This weekend’s visit to Nottingham Forest now assumes even greater importance as Everton face yet another season of crisis.
Player of the match
- 35ZinchenkoSubstituted forTierneyat 82′minutes
- 20JorginhoSubstituted forParteyat 45′minutes
- 34XhakaSubstituted forFábio Vieiraat 72′minutes
- 7SakaSubstituted forSmith Roweat 82′minutes
- 19TrossardSubstituted forNketiahat 72′minutes
- 10Smith Rowe
- 21Fábio Vieira
- 23ColemanSubstituted forGodfreyat 61′minutesBooked at 66mins
- 2TarkowskiBooked at 51mins
- 27GueyeSubstituted forHolgateat 45′minutes
- 16DoucouréSubstituted forDaviesat 79′minutes
- 20MaupaySubstituted forGrayat 61′minutes
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Arsenal 4, Everton 0.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, Everton 0.
Attempt saved. Tom Davies (Everton) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Demarai Gray (Everton) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ben Godfrey.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ben Godfrey.
Fábio Vieira (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tom Davies (Everton).
Offside, Arsenal. Gabriel Magalhães tries a through ball, but Emile Smith Rowe is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Fábio Vieira (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.
Attempt blocked. Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Fábio Vieira (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Ben White (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tom Davies (Everton).
Substitution, Arsenal. Kieran Tierney replaces Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Substitution, Arsenal. Emile Smith Rowe replaces Bukayo Saka.
Goal! Arsenal 4, Everton 0. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Eddie Nketiah.
Substitution, Everton. Tom Davies replaces Abdoulaye Doucouré.
Attempt missed. Fábio Vieira (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.
Attempt saved. Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Thomas Partey with a through ball.
Attempt missed. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Gabriel Martinelli.
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