LONDON: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice to earn Arsenal a 3-2 Premier League win over Everton last night, extending the Gunners’ unbeaten start to 2020.
The win moves Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side up to ninth place in the league and back in the battle for European places, while Everton remain without a win at the Gunners in 24 years.
As well as the goals of the prolific Aubameyang, who is now joint top scorer in the league on 17 goals with Jamie Vardy, Arsenal had goalkeeper Bernd Leno to thank for some late saves which preserved the lead.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin put Carlo Ancelotti’s team ahead in the first minute with a superb, acrobatic volley after David Luiz had failed to deal with a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick.
But Arsenal reacted well, with young forward Eddie Nketiah, who started ahead of Alexandre Lacazette, levelling in the 27th minute, his first goal at the Emirates coming from a fine cross from the left from substitute Bukayo Saka.
Six minutes later and Arsenal were ahead - Luiz making amends for his earlier mistake with a lovely, defence-splitting pass to Aubameyang who calmly slotted past Jordan Pickford.
Brazilian Richarlison brought Everton back on level terms though just before the interval, poking home from close range.
But Arsenal struck straight after the break with Aubameyang heading in a Nicolas Pepe cross, 23 seconds after the restart.
Leno then produced a brilliant point-blank reflex save from Calvert-Lewin and did well to keep out a Richarlison effort as Everton pushed for an equaliser.
Arsenal went close to a fourth goal when Nketiah, who spent the first-half of the season on loan at Championship (second-tier) Leeds United, struck the bar with a curling shot.
Everton almost grabbed a point at the end but Calvert-Lewin’s header from a Bernard cross was just wide of the post.
In the earlier matches, Diogo Jota struck twice as Wolverhampton Wanderers pushed Norwich City deeper towards the drop with a 3-0 win while Manchester United kept alive their hopes of finishing in the top four after goals from Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood secured a 3-0 home win over Watford.
Portugal midfielder Fernandes scored his first goal for United with a 42nd-minute penalty before Martial and Greenwood netted fine individual efforts to lift them two places up to fifth on 41 points from 27 games.
United are three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and one ahead of Tottenham Hotspur while struggling Watford stayed 19th on 24 points.
The home team’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised the agile Fernandes and Greenwood.
“A very good win, two good wins and two clean sheets, some goals to celebrate, now we want to kick on,” Solskjaer told the BBC, also referring to United’s 2-0 win at Chelsea on Monday.
“Fernandes is quicker than he looks. Very excited by having him in. He has come in, given everyone a boost and wants to conduct a game. There are big games coming up now.
“The thing that matters in football is scoring goals and that is what Greenwood does.”
Fernandes added: “This is the day every player wants to have. I just need to help the team, it’s what I need to do. I hope Martial scores more goals too like he did.”
The home side looked disjointed in the opening 20 minutes and both teams missed chances before Ben Foster tripped Fernandes and the playmaker sent Watford’s goalkeeper the wrong way with a confident spot-kick.
Watford had an effort ruled out for handball following a VAR check soon after halftime and United doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Martial picked up the rebound after Ben Foster blocked his initial attempt, left Etienne Capoue dumbfounded with dazzling footwork and dinked the ball over the keeper.