By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal Reserves got back to winning ways with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Everton on Monday thanks, in part, to another piece of magic from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
After going behind to an early Shkodran Mustafi header the second string responded well before two goals early in the second half meant Neil Banfeild’s side won at a canter in front of the watching Arsène Wenger.
Emmanuel-Thomas levelled the scores midway through the first half before Chuks Aneke put the Gunners in front immediately after the interval. A moment of inspiration from Emmanuel-Thomas made it three after 52 minutes and a rare Havard Nordtveit strike ensured Arsenal enjoyed what, in the end, was a comfortable win.
Man of the moment Emmanuel-Thomas returned to the side after a call-up to Arsène Wenger’s squad for the trip to Donetsk meant he missed the defeat to Aston Villa last time out. He formed a forward three with Aneke and Gilles Sunu.
Sead Hajrovic again partnered captain Ignasi Miquel at the centre of the Arsenal defence and there were starting spots in midfield for Henri Lansbury and Craig Eastmond.
On a bitterly cold day at London Colney the away side started brightly and took the lead after just five minutes.
Jose Baxter floated a free-kick to the back post where Mustafi was waiting to head home into the far corner from eight yards.
A far from ideal start though the goal seemed to shock Arsenal to life.
The men in red started to dominate possession and Everton had to rely on a last-ditch block to thwart Aneke and the outside of the upright to deny Emmanuel-Thomas on 23 minutes.
Three minutes after hitting the base of Iain Turner’s post the in-form striker would not be denied.
The ever-willing Lansbury got into a good position on the right touchline and when he swung a cross into a dangerous position inside the six-yard box Emmanuel-Thomas was on hand to prod home. He beat James Wallcace to the ball and turned it past Turner into the bottom-left corner.
There was still time for an unmarked Sunu to blaze over from barely six yards and Aneke to force a good save from the goalkeeper with a low curling effort as Arsenal finished the first period well on top.
The home side started the second as they ended the first, showing their intent from the first whistle.
Oguzhan Ozyakup delivered a perfect corner into the six-yard box where Aneke was waiting to tower above Mustafi and powerfully head into the roof of the net just two minutes after the restart and put his side in front.
And then after 52 minutes came the moment that will leave Arsenal fans purring.
Ozyakup spread the ball out to Emmanuel-Thomas who took his now trademark position on the right of the penalty area. What followed was special.
The 19-year-old cut inside onto his left and beat Luke Garbutt with a piece of skill that has to be seen to be believed. With his left foot he somehow seemed to shift the ball around the back of his right leg and leave the defender behind in one graceful swooping motion before firing a low shot into the bottom-right corner from just inside the area.
A piece of skill almost beyond words. Look out for the highlights on Arsenal TV Online from Tuesday afternoon.
Nordtveit headed in a fourth from a corner after 63 minutes and there was no way back for Everton.
Aneke was twice denied by stunning Turner reflexes in the final few minutes but Arsenal cruised to a victory that will always be remembered for a moment of brilliance from their talismanic striker.
- Nordtveit Goal!
- Ozyakup 60
- Lansbury 46
- Emmanuel-Thomas 73 Goal! Goal!
- Aneke Goal!
- Roberts 73
- Deacon 46
- Yennaris 60
- Mustafi Goal!