The Gunners maintained their momentum from Tuesday night’s Champions League defeat of Bayern Munich to battle past the Toffees, who produced a spirited second-half. Goals from France forward Olivier Giroud – his third in as many appearances – and centre-back Laurent Koscielny within two minutes of each other in the first half looked to have set Arsenal on their way towards a routine victory. However, after a deflected strike off defender Gabriel from Ross Barkley’s 20-yard effort reduced the deficit just before the break, it proved anything but. Arsenal had to dig in after seeing Giroud denied a second goal by the crossbar, with Everton forward Romelu Lukaku sending a header against the top of the woodwork at the other end. Goalkeeper Petr Cech then had to be alert to deny Gerard Deulofeu’s point-blank effort, while Arsenal almost grabbed a third in stoppage time when Mesut Ozil struck the post before Everton midfielder Gareth Barry was dismissed just before the final whistle after collecting a second yellow card. Arsenal moved a point above Manchester City, who face rivals United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Wenger knows there is plenty more hard graft ahead, with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup coming up in midweek. He said: “Let’s continue to work together and continue to improve. “There are still many aspects to our game which we can improve and therefore let’s not focus too much on the position and try to be a better team. “We need to keep the togetherness, the concentration, the humility and try to play better football game by game and try to focus on that in training as well.” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger challenged his side to continue to improve after moving top of the Barclays Premier League with a hard-earned victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger was able to leave Theo Walcott on the bench, with Giroud providing just as effective in attack. The France international believes both players can prove vital as the campaign unfolds. “I try to bring something else to the team. We have a different profile with Theo, and a good understanding with each of us up front, so it is okay,” said Giroud. “Before, Theo was in good form and now it is me, so we need to both contribute to the big matches.” Everton saw captain Phil Jagielka forced off in the second half with a knee injury, the extent of which is still to be assessed, following a challenge with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Manager Roberto Martinez said: “Phil Jagielka doesn’t complain often, so for him to come off it must be an injury. “It is too early to tell, but it is his right knee and it could be one of a number of structures that are damaged.” Martinez, whose side lost 3-0 to Manchester United last weekend, tried to take some positives from the trip to London. “All in all, to look like you can rescue something from the game after giving away a two-goal lead, it showed what we have in the squad,” he said. “But, from the other side, there is disappointment for giving away such soft goals.” Press Association
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