Premier League: Wenger happy with steady Arsenal despite late slip-up

Julian Harris
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ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger admits his team blew the chance to go seven points clear at the top of the Premier League yesterday, but insists they are showing the kind of consistency required to win the title.

The league-leaders were little more than seven minutes from victory when Gerard Deulofeu equalised at the Emirates, shortly after Mesut Ozil had opened the scoring with his fifth goal for Arsenal since joining this season.

“We had three one-on-ones in the first half, and that’s a regret I have because we didn’t take our chances very well. And the other regret I have is that we were caught back after being 1-0 up with seven minutes to go, but you have to give credit to Everton,” Wenger said.

“We have shown consistency up to now and an absolutely fantastic attitude – that’s why we are different to last season. We are a better team as well, more stable defensively and dangerous offensively. As long as we are five points ahead you cannot rule ourselves out. It will be a tough Premier League, and consistency in the end will be rewarded. [The challenge] for us is to keep this attitude until the end of the season. Consistency in the results strengthens your belief.”

Arsenal went into yesterday’s game on the back of four consecutive wins and clean sheets, yet Everton burst out of the traps and could have been a goal up within five minutes.

Pacey winger Kevin Mirallas was played in by Ross Barkley but his cross skimmed along the six yard box, eluding centre-forward Romelu Lukaku.

Barkley and Sylvain Distin fired in shots from distance during a superb opening half an hour for the visitors. Arsenal held out, however, before turning up the heat just before the break. Two quick passing moves within the space of a couple of minutes saw Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey get in behind the Everton back line, but neither of the chances were converted as Tim Howard rushed out to thwart them.

The north Londoners maintained their momentum into the second period and may have taken a quick lead when Jack Wilshere peeled off to the far post and was found by Ozil’s cross from the right. Wilshere knocked the ball back across goal to Santi Cazorla, but the diminutive Spaniard could not get enough power behind his header to trouble Howard.

With just over 10 minutes to go Leon Osman, having come off the Everton bench, played the ball forward for Mirallas to run onto, yet his shot was deflected into the near side-netting.

Mirallas was then replaced by Deulofeu, but moments later Arsenal scored – the goal being created by two of their own second-half substitutes. Tomas Rosicky crossed to the far post from deep, where Theo Walcott headed across goal towards Giroud. He failed to make contact but the ball ran on to Ozil who knocked it high into the roof of the net from six yards.

The lead lasted just four minutes, however. A cross from Everton’s left missed Lukaku but landed at the feet of Deulofeu inside the box. The teenage Spaniard edged forward before drilling it high and hard into the far corner past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Gunners get Spurs in cup

FA Cup third round key ties
Yeovil v Leyton Orient

Liverpool v Oldham or Mansfield

Nottingham Forest v West Ham

Bristol City v Watford

Southend v Millwall

West Brom v Crystal Palace

Doncaster v Stevenage

Southampton v Burnley

Newcastle v Cardiff

Charlton v Wrexham or Oxford

Manchester United v Swansea

Norwich City v Fulham

Aston Villa v Sheffield United

Sunderland v Carlisle

Blackburn v Manchester City

Everton v QPR

Brighton v Reading

Arsenal v Tottenham

Birmingham v Bristol R or Crawley

Derby v Chelsea

Ties to be played 4 and 5 January