Van Persie's wizardry conjures point against odds for Arsenal

Everton 1 Arsenal 1

If Arsenal, as their manager has been insisting, still claim to be championship challengers, they can thank Robin van Persie for them not having disappeared off the radar completely.

Barely 30 seconds of stoppage time remained when the Dutchman secured an unlikely and barely deserved point with a stunning finish that levelled the 100th goal of Tim Cahill's English career.

Van Persie chested down Abou Diaby's diagonal ball and flashed an angled left-foot shot past Tim Howard for his 13th goal of the season. That Everton's keeper had made only one token save to that juncture underlined how unexpected the equaliser was.

Both teams are now unbeaten in nine games but there was perhaps a clue afterwards from Arsène Wenger as to his innermost thoughts on the title's destination.

"For me, Everton are as big a threat to us as Aston Villa for a top-four place," he said. "They are a good side." No mention there of still aiming to unseat Manchester United and he added: '"A point is never enough because you play for three but it was a difficult game. I knew we would keep going to the last second and it was an exceptional finish by Van Persie."

The forward stood out in a largely forgettable performance from a side showing six changes to the one who drew in the FA Cup at Cardiff. The overhaul included William Gallas's recall for his first Premier League action of 2009 – and defenders on both sides held a vice-like grip on the first half.

Apart from a long-range Van Persie free-kick that deflected wide and a stretching effort from the same player that was off target, Everton were not threatened and Arsenal were seldom ruffled by opponents who again had Cahill alone up front as they foraged for scraps in the manner that served them well during their two recent draws across Stanley Park.

A swirling mist did nothing to improve the spectacle and Arsenal were guilty early in the second half of a bad miss that such an incident-deprived contest could not afford. Van Persie used Gaël Clichy's run as a decoy and instead fed the unmarked Denilson, who scooped horribly over from 18 yards.

Cahill fired one of several warnings at the other end when he burst into the area to drive into the side-netting after Mikel Arteta had set him up.

And it was the Australian who delivered once more for his side in the 61st minute.

Leighton Baines crossed well from near the byline on the left and Clichy arrived too late to deny Cahill the space he needed to climb and plant a header across Manuel Almunia. It was a trademark finish by the makeshift centre-forward and an utterly appropriate way for him to reach his personal milestone.

Howard was called upon for the first time when scooping up a header from Van Persie following Alexandre Song's chip. Routine or not, at least it was an on-target effort from Arsenal.

Underwhelmed though he must have been by his side's efforts, Wenger waited until the final 19 minutes to make any changes; two of them at once, in fact, with positivity in mind. By then, Leon Osman had curled wide of the far post, then Cahill thumped a shot into the chest of Almunia before Everton's masterful defence were finally breached for only the second time in the League since 7 December.

On that date, they lost at the death at home to Aston Villa, whom they now trail by 10 points, with Arsenal in fifth place, equi-distant from the two of them.

With so few forwards at his disposal and moves for two loan targets confirmed last night as having collapsed, it is difficult for Everton's manager David Moyes to talk up his interest in fourth place but he tried: '"It was a really good team performance,'" he said. "We're playing well enough to catch the teams above us."

Goals: Cahill (61) 1-0, Van Persie (90) 1-1.

Everton (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Osman, Neville, Fellaini, Arteta, Pienaar; Cahill (Anichebe, 86). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Yobo, Castillo, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz, Gosling.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna (Eboué, 71), Gallas, Djourou, Clichy; Denilson, Diaby, Song (Bendtner, 71), Nasri; Adebayor, Van Persie. Substitutes not used: Fabianski (gk), Touré, Vela, Ramsey, Gibbs.

Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands)

Booked: Everton Arteta, Hibbert; Arsenal Diaby, Nasri.

Man of the match: Van Persie.

Attendance: 37,097.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?