Vermaelen goal moves Gunners up to third

Everton 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal moved up to third in the Barclays Premier League as Thomas Vermaelen's early header at Everton earned Arsene Wenger's men a sixth successive top-flight victory.

The Gunners made a strong start and went in front in the eighth minute when Vermaelen converted Robin van Persie's corner.

The Toffees got a grip on proceedings and had what appeared to be a legitimate goal chalked off in the 31st minute when the flag was raised against Royston Drenthe, but the visitors held on to secure a win that sees them leapfrog Tottenham, who drew 1-1 with Stoke.

Arsenal are a point clear of their north London rivals with nine games left to play and look good to secure a Champions League berth, with fifth-placed Chelsea - defeated 2-1 at Manchester City - now five points behind Spurs.

Everton, meanwhile, remain 10th having failed to add the Gunners to their recent list of big scalps.

Fit-again Aaron Ramsey replaced the benched Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the only change to the Arsenal starting line-up from their 2-1 league win over Newcastle on March 12, with fellow midfielder Mikel Arteta making his first return to Goodison Park since leaving Everton for the Gunners last summer.

The Toffees team showed two adjustments from Saturday's 1-1 FA Cup draw with Sunderland, winger Steven Pienaar - available again after being cup-tied for that match - and defender Tony Hibbert coming in for Phil Neville, who was named among the substitutes, and the injured Seamus Coleman.

After the players of both teams emerged from the tunnel wearing t-shirts to show their support for Bolton's former Arsenal midfielder Fabrice Muamba following his cardiac arrest at the weekend, it was the visitors who set the early tempo once the game got under way.

Having already miscued one decent opportunity in front of goal in the sixth minute, Ramsey won a corner with a blocked shot moments later and from Van Persie's delivery, Vermaelen found the space to nod the Gunners into the lead.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard then got down to keep out an effort from Van Persie before Leon Osman headed the Toffees' first attempt at goal wide.

The home side began to settle a little and around the half-hour mark thought they had equalised when Drenthe slotted in at the end of a passing move.

The effort was ruled out for offside, though - a decision that enraged Everton boss David Moyes, with replays indicating that Drenthe had been onside when the through-ball to him had been played.

Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny then survived a scare as his kick went directly to the head of Nikica Jelavic, the Toffees striker unable to guide the ball on target.

The same assistant referee had his flag up twice more soon after to halt Jelavic and Drenthe's progress, with both calls looking debatable and drawing boos from the crowd.

The Gunners had gone quiet in attack but offered a reminder of their threat just before the interval as Howard batted away a drive from Tomas Rosicky.

The pressure from Everton resumed after the restart, with Szczesny jumping to catch a header from Marouane Fellaini two minutes into the second period.

At the other end, Arsenal were shown the flag for offside as Van Persie cracked a shot against the post, before Everton's Leighton Baines sent a dangerous ball flashing across goal which none of his team-mates could get on the end of.

Fellaini was then adjudged to have been offside as he had a shot tipped wide by Szczesny in one of the most convincing-looking calls of the evening.

Howard was called into action to put a shot from Ramsey behind as the Gunners attempted to finish their opponents off.

Drenthe went close to levelling with a fierce effort that just cleared the crossbar, but Everton could offer no more and after Van Persie had skewed a shot off target, the points were confirmed as Arsenal's.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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