Bukayo Saka steps up again for Arsenal as frustrating night against Everton turns into rout
Arsenal were always going to need something special to break down Everton, and when the goal finally came the source was no surprise.
Bukayo Saka has established himself as Arsenal’s talisman this season and his opener in this 4-0 win underlined that.
For 40 minutes, the Gunners were frustrated by an Everton side doing an excellent job of sucking the life out of Emirates Stadium.
Sean Dyche’s side basically had two banks of five in front of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Arsenal couldn’t find a way through. It felt like a night for patience and one where a moment of quality would be needed to break the deadlock.
Saka duly stepped up to the plate, but he owed a lot to the brilliance of Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Ukrainian has shown this season he is a left-back in name only and this was another reminder of that.
Picking the ball up on the right side of the pitch, Zinchenko found Saka with a lovely disguised pass that split Everton centre-back James Tarkowski and full-back Vitalii Mykolenko. Saka still had plenty to do after that, but with two touches the ball was out of his feet and he lashed it past Jordan Pickford with his weaker right foot.
Saka ran off and held the corner flag to celebrate, paying homage to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry by replicating his celebration. Keep up this form and fire the Gunners to the title, and Saka can write his own name in Arsenal folklore.
The Gunners are now five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after winning their game in hand. They show no signs of slowing down and Saka is the one driving them forward.
He set-up Arsenal’s second here, which came six minutes after their opener, although this was a goal that lacked the quality of the first. Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was caught dawdling on the ball near his own box and Saka tackled him to set Gabriel Martinelli free. The Brazilian slotted the ball past Pickford and the goal was given after VAR overruled the linesman ruling him offside.
The assist means Saka is now the sixth-youngest player in Premier League history to reach 50 goals and assists in the competition, following in the footsteps of Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler, Cesc Fabregas and Chris Sutton.
Saka and Martinelli almost combined again as Everton lost their shape after their break. They seemed to lose their fight too and it was no surprise Arsenal added two more before the end.
This time it was Arsenal’s other forward, Leandro Trossard, causing problems as he got in down the left. The Belgian eventually got to the byline and his cut-back was tucked home by Martin Odegaard. Martinelli rounded off the evening with his second as again Everton were undone by a cut-back.
It was all too easy. Not that Arsenal will mind, as they began a busy March in style.