Arsenal 3 Everton 1: Walcott's wizardry saves Arsenal from back trouble

England winger rides to the rescue after Wenger's untried defence fails to gel

The intention was to allow Theo Walcott a rest after his recent exertions, but Arsenal, a goal down and struggling for bodies, suddenly found themselves in need of youthful zest. Cometh the hour, cometh the boy. He may have been subdued in midweek, as well as guilty when England conceded their goal, but sent on at half-time here Walcott transformed a game that was looking likely to extend the home side's run of a single point from two games, largely because of trouble at the back.

Already without Bacary Sagna and William Gallas, they had the emergency right-back Alex Song hopelessly off key, Mikaël Silvestre making a nervous debut, and lost a third member of the defence in Kolo Touré by the interval, when Everton were ahead. Unable to win at home this season but unbeaten away, David Moyes's side have nevertheless conceded more goals than any other team in the Premier League.

They held out reasonably well until the second half, with the 17-year-old Jack Rodwell excellent in front of the defence but were unable to turn the tide thereafter. Walcott's pace tormented Leighton Baines and after Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie had reversed the scoreline, he richly deserved to score the final goal himself. Any team introducing two new players into the back four needs time to settle and Arsenal were not given it. Everton, even though using Yakubu as a lone striker, managed to put them under pressure from the start by pushing midfielders forward and were rewarded with a goal in only the ninth minute.

Silvestre failed to clear from the vigorous Yakubu and Leon Osman was allowed to feed Steven Pienaar on the left and then, having left Denilson behind, Osman slid in on the South African's low cross to score.

Emmanuel Adebayor's yellow card for a blatant dive in the penalty area illustrated Arsenal's frustration, and the defensive disarray was underlined shortly afterwards. Marouane Fellaini, the tall £15m midfielder, went clear but could win no more than a corner; Baines was unmarked as he went short to receive it and crossed to the far post, where Joleon Lescott's header beat the goalkeeper and was hacked off the line by Arsenal's one functioning defender, Gaël Clichy. There was sufficient possession and combination passing for Arsenal to threaten from time to time, although by the interval Tim Howard had only made two saves.

In the 16th minute he did well to halt Van Persie, who had latched on to Nasri's long pass and gone round Lescott; later in the half, he fisted away a curling free-kick by Van Persie that he might have caught.

Arsenal left at half-time to a combination of boos and supportive applause. They re-emerged to cheers thanks to the arrival of Walcott, Emmanuel Eboué dropping to right-back, where he should have started, and Song moving alongside Silvestre in an untried partnership. The effect of Walcott's arrival was predictably invigorating. With his first touch down the right he won a free-kick that was cleared for a corner; Osman half-cleared but Denilson regained possession and Silvestre touched the ball back for Nasri to drive into the bottom corner of the net.

Everton were wilting, leaving Yakubu stranded on his own. Moyes sent on Louis Saha to help him but only after Arsenal had taken their lead. Adebayor appeared to have committed the familiar sin of trying to walk the ball in, before setting up Cesc Fabregas; Howard beat out his side-footed shot, only on to the head of Van Persie, who defeated Baines's lunge on the line. Manuel Almunia was now unemployed at the other end, so it was no great shock when in the final minute the irrepressible Walcott sent Abou Diaby to the byline and drove the return pass across Howard.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links