Olivier Giroud was among the goalscorers as Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 defeat of Everton at the Emirates.
The hosts scored twice in three first-half minutes, Giroud converting Mesut Ozil’s cross before Laurent Koscielny doubled the hosts’ advantage with another fine header.
Ross Barkley pulled one back for Everton with a deflected strike just before half-time but, despite having plenty of chances, Everton could not conjure up an equaliser and their evening ended in further disappointment with the late dismissal of midfielder Gareth Barry for two yellow cards.
Arsene Wenger’s men top the table with 22 points from 10 games but they can be replaced by Manchester City on Sunday should they get at least a draw in the Manchester derby.
Arsenal started the match confidently and threatened for the first time in the eighth minute. Giroud beat his marker to the ball from Santi Cazorla’s corner but the Frenchman failed to get his header on target.
Everton nearly opened the scoring against the run of play on the half-hour mark. Petr Cech failed to adequately deal with Aaron Lennon’s cross from the left, handing John Stones a golden chance to hand the visitors the lead but the England defender blasted wide from close range.
Arsenal grabbed the opener in the 36th minute. Ozil sent in a superb cross for Giroud and the striker beat Phil Jagielka to the ball before heading home from five yards out.
The hosts doubled their lead just two minutes later.
Referee Lee Mason awarded Alexis Sanchez a free-kick down the left and Cazorla sent the ball into the box for Koscielny to head past the helpless Tim Howard.
Roberto Martinez’s side pulled one back shortly before the interval via Barkley. The England midfielder tried his luck from the edge of the area after a good run and saw his shot take a deflection off Gabriel to beat Cech at his near post.
Sanchez came close to restoring Arsenal’s two-goal lead immediately after the break following a sublime pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but he was denied by a fine block from Howard.
Giroud nearly doubled his personal tally in the 56th minute after a good combination with Oxlade-Chamberlain, only for Howard to again show his class with a superb reflex save.
Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings and Ozil was next to test the Everton goalkeeper with a volley from outside the box that was easily collected by Howard.
Barkley wasted a decent chance to equalise after some sloppy play from Nacho Monreal, but his shot lacked the power to worry Cech.
Giroud could have netted Arsenal’s 2,000th goal under Wenger in the 70th minute after an intelligent pass from Ozil, only to see his attempt hit the crossbar.
Romelu Lukaku did likewise at the other end as Everton searched for a leveller, his header from a Barry cross clipping the woodwork on its way over.
There was a late flurry of chances at both ends, Mathieu Flamini and Ozil coming close for Arsenal – the latter hitting the post with a crisp left-footed effort, while Gerard Deulofeu missed a wonderful chance to equalise with Cech distinguishing himself again with a smart block.
Everton’s desperation boiled over in stoppage time as Barry lunged in on Kieran GIbbs and was shown a second yellow card.
Key Opta stats:
– Olivier Giroud has now scored in four of his last five appearances for Arsenal in all competitions.
– Arsenal have lost just one of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Everton (W10 D6).
– Mesut Ozil picked up his seventh Premier League assist of the 2015-16 campaign – more than any other player.
– Arsenal have now scored 89 Premier League goals against Everton – no side has scored more against a single opponent in the competition (Man Utd also have 89 v Everton).
– Gareth Barry received his sixth Premier League red card – four of which have come against London clubs.
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