Saka, Aubameyang both 7/10 in glimpse of Arsenal's future
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal made it four wins in their last five thanks to two goals from Pierre-Emerick either side of the break. The Gunners' 3-2 win against Everton sees them remain unbeaten in 2020, and close the gap on some of the sides above them in the race for European spots.
The home side started -- and finished -- slowly and went behind to an overhead kick from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but they rallied to take the lead. First, Eddie Nketiah volleyed home sub Bukayo Saka's delicious cross, before Aubameyang evoked memories of Thierry Henry to slide home following David Luiz's slide-rule pass. Richarlison then bundled home on the stroke of half-time, but Arsenal started quickly in the second half, and Aubameyang headed home to secure the three points, though not before the home fans were made to sweat as Everton piled on the pressure late on.
Most of Arsenal's attacking intent came down the left-hand side, with Saka and Aubameyang linking well. Arteta's side clearly needs some work in the summer, but he will surely try and keep that particular axis intact for next season. He will also be pleased with how his side twice put the disappointment of conceding behind them and held on when under pressure late on.
Defence. Defence. Defence. It was Groundhog Day at the Emirates, as Arsenal conceded two soft goals, both from set pieces. Arteta must be tearing his hair out with the way his side works hard to find the net only for his back line to gift the opposition poor goals. Arteta has partnered Luiz with Shkodran Mustafi for the last five games, and they've conceded six goals. Though Mustafi looks much improved, that's not good enough, and they invite pressure on themselves too often.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Arteta raised eyebrows with his starting lineup when he left out the popular and in-form Saka, and his decision was exacerbated when the game turned on Saka's introduction. The youngster came on as a replacement for the injured Sead Kolasinac early on. Will need to work on his defence and their ability to concentrate for 90 minutes if they're to have any chance of finishing in the top four.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 7 -- A game of two halves. The German's first major act of the game was to pick the ball out of his net; his dive to his right not enough to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin's effort from close range. The 28-year-old could arguably have done better to prevent Everton's equaliser too as Leno was weak on his line -- when he should have come for the ball -- allowing Richarlison to bundle home. However, he saved well at point-blank range from Calvert-Lewin with 19 minutes left on the clock, and again several times to keep Arsenal ahead in the last 15 minutes.
DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- The Spaniard had an early effort from the edge of the area inside five minutes but he leaned back and skied over the bar. At the other end, he formed part of a defence that still looked nervous at set pieces. He enjoyed a tough battle with Calvert-Lewin, but passed well out of the back and got forward on several occasions.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- An improved performance from the German defender. There was little he could do about either goal, and even looked comfortable for long periods, doing well to cut out balls before they led to further trouble. At the other end, he found himself unmarked at a corner but his free header went over the bar.
DF David Luiz, 5 -- Another game in which we saw the best and worst of the Brazilian. He was caught out for the opening goal when the ball cannoned off his shoulder to ricochet to Calvert-Lewin. He then made up for it with an incredible pass that carved open Everton's defence for Arsenal's second. However, he was again exposed when Everton equalised on the stroke of half time and was continually lambasted by Arteta for wanting to go forward.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 5 -- The left-sided player has only just returned from injury but he lasted just 17 minutes when, after a clash with Djibril Sidibe, he left the field with his arm in a sling. Bad news for Kolasinac, but good news for the majority of the Emirates crowd it would seem, who welcomed his replacement.
MF Granit Xhaka, 6 - The Switzerland midfielder was solid but not spectacular. He limited the away side to few attacking chances as he protected his back line well, though his influence faded in the last half hour. Arsenal remain unbeaten in games Xhaka has featured under Arteta.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 - The Spaniard had another impressive afternoon. He did the simple things well and was the starting point for many of Arsenal's attacks. However, it was his crunching tackles that went down best, one particular challenge at Richarlison's expense getting a loud cheer from the crowd. He also came close to scoring in the second half before being substituted.
MF Mesut Ozil, 7 - Received a positive reception when he was substituted in the last 10 minutes and deservedly so, for he pulled the strings for the home side for long periods. His passing was slick and he continues to return to his best form under Arteta.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 6 -- The Frenchman hugged the right-hand side and provided plenty of width by stretching Everton, though most of Arsenal's play went down the other side of the pitch. He did well to set up Bellerin for a shot inside five minutes, and then had Arsenal's first effort on target himself soon after, which was comfortably saved by Jordan Pickford. His immaculate cross straight after the break made it very easy for Aubameyang to net his second of the game.
FW Eddie Nketiah, 7 -- The youngster's first chance came on 23 minutes. He cut into the box but was too far from goal, and too wide, to trouble Pickford. However, he made up for it soon after when he scored Arsenal's equaliser with a tremendous volley from Saka's cross. He drove towards the near post and guided the ball home expertly and then hit the crossbar late on, too.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 -- Once again started on the left side of the attack and looked lacklustre in the opening exchanges but exposed Everton's high line to latch on to Luiz's through ball just after the half-hour mark. He broke into the Everton area and evoked memories of Henry when he slotted into the far corner to net his 16th of the season and fifth in his last seven games. He then headed home to add a second 23 seconds after the break to see Arsenal retake the lead, and worked hard in his own half.
DF Bukayo Saka, 7 -- Came on in the 19th minute to replace Kolasinac to loud cheers and quickly showed his quality with his 10th assist this season and third in as many games from a delicious cross for Nketiah. Needs to work on his game defensively, but has all the tools to be a star.
MF Lucas Torreira N/A -- Came on for Ceballos with 15 minutes remaining and faced a lot of pressure as Everton chased an equaliser.
MF Matteo Guendouzi N/A -- Came on with nine minutes left on the clock to replace Ozil, and found it hard to stamp his authority.