• Everton 2-2 Arsenal, Premier League

Giroud the saviour as Arsenal complete late comeback

ESPN staff
August 23, 2014
Olivier Giroud's late header earned Arsenal a point at Everton © Getty Images

Arsenal produced a remarkable late comeback to hold Everton to a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, although Arsene Wenger's side showed similar signs of the weaknesses that ultimately cost them the Premier League title last season.

First half goals from Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith had Goodison Park rocking before Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud struck late to spare the north London club's blushes.

Match Analysis

  • Man of the Match: Everton put in a magnificent team performance with several of their players shining on Merseyside. Romelu Lukaku was a constant threat up front while Gareth Barry provided plenty of quality from the midfield. However, Seamus Coleman never stopped running up and down that touchline and is well worthy of Saturday's plaudits.
  • Villain: Arsenal's stars simply did not turn up - worrying signs for only the second game of the season. Mesut Ozil was a passenger and Jack Wilshere was massively ineffective. However, Alexis Sanchez was the worst of the lot and was deservedly dragged off at half time having done diddly-squat.
  • Key moment: Steven Naismith's strike had more than a hint of offisde about it, but the award goes to Olivier Giroud, whose highlight-stricken barnet earned his side a share of the points with a later-than-late header.
  • Rob Bartlett

Arsenal had the better of the opening 15 minutes, but it quickly became apparent they were lacking a clinical edge.

Ramsey tried to carve open the home defence with a series of cutting passes, and there were plenty of fancy touches from Alexis Sanchez, who harassed the home defence with his pace.

But Howard remained untested in the Everton goal. The only chance Arsenal mustered in the first half came when Coleman cleared straight to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Luckily for the hosts, the England winger side-footed wide.

It took just a couple of minutes for Coleman to get back into Roberto Martinez's good books. The full-back climbed high at the back post to nod Gareth Barry's delicate chip past Wojciech Szczesny and give Everton the lead.

Romelu Lukaku played a part in the goal, selflessly ducking to give Coleman a clear header, and Mesut Ozil gave Everton a helping hand with some sloppy marking.

Steven Naismith's strike had a hint of offside about it © Getty Images

Arsenal were rattled, and they almost went 2-0 down moments later. Naismith looped a header over Calum Chambers and straight into the path of Kevin Mirallas, but his shot trickled inches wide.

Chambers then carelessly clattered into Mirallas, giving Everton a free-kick on the edge of the box. Mirallas bent the resulting free-kick up and over the wall, and the Everton fans rose to their feet thinking the Belgian had scored, but the ball had instead rippled the side-netting.

Arsenal manager Wenger vented his anger at referee Kevin Friend for booking Per Mertesacker after a foul on Naismith and the Frenchman's mood darkened just before the break when Everton doubled their lead.

Lukaku shrugged off Per Mertesacker inside the Everton half and hurdled the sliding challenge of Chambers before sprinting at the Arsenal defence on the break. The Belgian cleverly cut inside from the right flank and flicked the ball through to Naismith, who beat Szczesny from close range.

It was a beautiful goal, but one that should have been ruled out for offside.

Wenger had seen enough of Sanchez and replaced him with Giroud at half-time. Arsenal's misery continued, though. Giroud managed to blast a volley over from close range just 58 seconds after his introduction.

Jack Wilshere was lucky to escape with a yellow card for a late sliding challenge on Barry. Mathieu Debuchy followed him into the book with a petty challenge on Naismith. Arsenal dominated possession, but they still did not look like scoring.

Howard made his first save of the match in the 68th minute from Giroud, who rolled a weak shot into the American's hands from 12 yards. Wenger looked to inject some life into his side by replacing Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain with Santi Cazorla and Joel Campbell.

Arsenal finally found the net with seven minutes to go. Cazorla flashed a low ball across the box in front of six Everton players, and Ramsey prodded home.

A cagey atmosphere descended upon Goodison Park, and the home fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as Giroud wasted a good chance to level with a free header. The Frenchman had the last laugh, though, stunning the home crowd into silence with a last-minute header from Nacho Monreal's cross.

Aaron Ramsey pulled one back for Arsenal © Getty Images
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