Arsenal opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League as Gabriel Martinelli struck twice in a 4-0 thrashing of relegation-threatened Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
The host was initially frustrated by its struggling visitor but goals by Bukayo Saka and Martinelli shortly before halftime put it in command as it took maximum advantage of the game in hand over Manchester City.
Captain Martin Odegaard made it 3-0 with a close-range finish in the 71st minute before Brazilian Martinelli grabbed his second to complete the rout.
A third victory in succession since losing at home to City lifted Mikel Arteta’s side to 60 points from 25 games with champions City on 55.
Everton, who now has only one victory from its last 27 league visits to Arsenal, had actually looked capable of taking something from the game. But once it fell behind a 14th league defeat of the season was almost a formality.
It remained third from bottom with 21 points having played a game more than all the teams around them.
While Everton is haunted by the looming prospect of a first relegation from the Premier League, Arsenal is beginning to envisage a first title since 2004, although it still has to visit Manchester City in April.
“I am delighted with the win and the way we played after the first 25 minutes. We had some difficulties at the start,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said.
“Once we scored the first goal, the game unlocked. We needed a magic moment and Bukayo produced that. After that, we grew and deserved to win the game.
“We played really well in the second half and could have scored more.”
Everton stunned Arsenal 1-0 in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge in early February and for 40 minutes it did an extremely effective job at nullifying them again.
But with halftime looming it caved in.
Dangerman Saka had been relatively quiet but he burst into life to make the breakthrough.
Given far too much time to turn after receiving a pass from Odegaard on the right edge of the penalty area, he smashed an angled shot into the roof of the net.
Everton’s Idrissa Gueye gifted Arsenal a second on the stroke of halftime. The Senegalese midfielder was caught napping by Saka who nicked the ball away from him before poking a pass to Martinelli who slipped his shot past Jordan Pickford.
The visitor thought it had been spared by an offside flag but a VAR decision overturned it and Arsenal went in at halftime to chants of “we are top of the league” from the home fans.
With only 17 league goals all season it looked a tall order for shot-shy Everton to salvage anything and it offered next to nothing after the break.
Odegaard fired in his side’s third from Leandro Trossard’s cut back and Martinelli confirmed the gulf between the sides late on by tapping in from Eddie Nketiah’s assist.
Latest on Sportstar
- French Open: Sabalenka, Djokovic hoping to steer clear of controversy
- ENG vs IRE Test, day 1: England takes control against Ireland as Broad stars with ball
- ‘I will continue’: Ronaldo says he’ll stay in Saudi
- India wins Junior Asia Cup, beats Pakistan 2-1
- Champions League final referee under UEFA scrutiny for links to far-right leader in Poland