Arsenal 5-1 Everton: Three talking points from the Emirates
Aaron Ramsey bagged a hat-trick and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his debut as Arsenal put Everton to the sword with a swashbuckling performance at the Emirates.
The Gunners were rampant right from the first whistle and 3-0 ahead after 19 minutes, thanks to two strikes from the Welshman and another from Laurent Koscielny.
With the visitors shell-shocked, Aubameyang then capped his debut with a goal before half-time.
Although substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted a consolation as the Toffees made a better fist of the second half, Ramsey completed his hat-trick late on to add gloss to the rout.
Arsenal’s win helped them close to within three points of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur ahead of their Super Sunday showdown with Liverpool, while Everton dropped to 10th.
Here are three talking points…
Hat-trick hero Ramsey steals the headlines
In a side containing a wealth of attacking talent following two high-profile January signings, it was an unlikely suspect that upstaged everyone.
Few would have put money on Ramsey scoring once against Everton – let alone three times – but he was deadly in front of goal in a sublime Arsenal display.
The Wales international had an injury-enforced spell out of the side but has regained his place in midfield, with Jack Wilshere sidelined through illness. He will be hard to dislodge now.
There was an element of luck to his second effort, which went in past Jordan Pickford with the aid of a deflection. However, Ramsey has always had an eye for goal and he doubled his tally for the season in just one match.
Of course, the 27-year-old’s main responsibilities are in making Arsenal tick and ensuring they are not exposed at the back.
On that front, tougher challenges than Everton await, whether it’s in partnership with Wilshere or Granit Xhaka.
Sam Allardyce’s tactical switch backfires
The Everton boss’s decision to adopt a back three backfired spectacularly as his side found themselves out of the game with less than 20 minutes on the clock.
The Toffees boss had been attempting to copy the recipe that saw Swansea defeat Arsenal in midweek, but the result here was completely different.
Michael Keane, Ashley Williams and deadline-day loan signing Eliaquim Mangala had been tasked with shackling Arsenal’s attacking riches.
They were dreadful. If it looked like they had never played with each other, it’s because they had not.
Keane was substituted at half-time as Allardyce reverted to 4-4-1-1 and, although the Toffees improved, the damage had been done.
This was Allardyce’s 500th Premier League game as manager but there was nothing to celebrate.
After an impressive start to life at Goodison Park, his honeymoon period is over at Everton, who have won only once in their past nine matches in all competitions.
Arsenal’s new boys hit the high notes
This felt like the start of an exciting new era for Arsenal.
Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both started alongside Mesut Ozil, who recently put pen-to-paper on a new contract that makes him the highest-paid player in the Gunners’ history.
All three played their part in an easy victory.
True to form, Aubameyang drifted in and out of the match but he underlined his talent by scoring with with a delicate chip over Pickford, even if he should have been flagged offside.
Mkhitaryan, who joined Arsenal in a swap deal with Alexis Sanchez, registered three assists in a very encouraging full debut, while Ozil showed he was revelling in his new-found status as Arsenal’s main man.
Wenger’s reluctance to strengthen his defence may still come back to haunt him, but in the forward department there is no doubt the Gunners can match anyone on their day.
Although they still face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League, Arsenal fans can finally look to the future with optimism.