Everton substitute Gerard Deulofeu scored six minutes from time to salvage a deserved 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Sunday as the Gunners missed the chance to open a gap at the top of the Premier League standings.
Deulofeu scored from a tight angle with a shot past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny just four minutes after Mesut Ozil put Arsene Wenger’s team in front from close range.
Coming off a win at Manchester United midweek, Everton was the better team in the first half but Arsenal had the best chances after the interval as goalkeeper Tim Howard produced several decisive saves. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud hit the crossbar in injury time.
Arsenal, which next plays Napoli in the Champions League before tough games against Manchester City and Chelsea, leads Liverpool and Chelsea by five points.
Arsenal went ahead after Everton wasted two good chances, as Theo Walcott headed a ball across the goal and Giroud failed to hit it before Ozil fired it into the roof of the net.
A win for Arsenal would have been a big statement after their rivals’ slip-ups on Saturday but Everton fought back to equalize after Romelu Lukaku failed to connect with an overhead kick and Deulofeu slotted home from 10 meters.
Everton started on a high tempo with a series of attacks on the flanks and dominated possession in the first half. England international Ross Barkley, bossing the midfield throughout the first half, created Everton’s first chance after five minutes when he released the ball for Kevin Mirallas, but the Belgian player’s cross from the right could not find Lukaku.
The Toffees continued to press but Barkley’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide before Sylvain Distin fired the ball wide following a corner that was poorly cleared by the Gunners defense.
Failing to produce its usual sharp passing game, Arsenal weathered the storm but failed to threaten Howard during the first 20 minutes.
Mirallas had another good chance in the 22nd minute following a swift move ignited by Barkley but his right-footed shot from the right went wide.
Arsenal created its first clear chance on the break when Santi Cazorla crossed a low ball in the 27th minute that eluded Kieran Gibbs by a couple of inches as Wenger started to show signs of nervousness on the touchline.
Arsenal then started playing better in the closing stages of the first half and should have scored with two minutes remaining when referee Howard Webb decided to play the advantage following Gareth Barry’s rough tackle on Ozil. But Howard was quick off his line to deny Giroud’s effort from close range. The United States goalkeeper was again decisive in the 45th minute to block Aaron Ramsey’s attempt from Giroud’s assist.
Arsenal played with the same intensity after the interval, monopolizing the ball and swarming into the Everton box, as Cazorla headed straight at Howard in the 51st from Wilshere’s clever pull back.
Everton responded immediately as Steven Pienaar forced Szczesny to make his first save with a long-range shot but Arsenal went close again when Howard denied Ramsey at the back post after the Welsh midfielder had been found by Gibbs
Wenger brought in Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini, with the Frenchman having an immediate impact with a shot fired just wide in the 73rd.
Giroud and the Arsenal fans thought the Frenchman had won the game in added time but his 30-meter strike smashed against the crossbar with Howard looking well-beaten.