Vermaelen header ensures Gunners take advantage of Tottenham slip to climb to third
Arsene Wenger's side move above rivals after sealing their sixth Premier League win a row as Belgian international's header gives them the three points at Goodison Park
David Moyes’ side were under pressure for most of the game but thought they had got back into the match when Royston Drenthe fired his shot past Wojciech Szczesny only for the Dutchman to be ruled offside with replays suggesting this was an incorrect decision from the linesman.
Moyes made two changes to his team that drew 1-1 with Sunderland at the weekend as Tony Hibbert replaced Phil Neville who dropped to the bench while Steven Pienaar came back into the side for Seamus Coleman after being cup-tied for the game against the Black Cats.
Arsenal made just one change to their team that beat Newcastle 2-1 last time out, Aaron Ramsey replacing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting line-up. The Gunners kept their three-pronged attack with Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott playing just behind Van Persie.
The Gunners started the game at a rapid pace and got into their passing groove immediately, which lead to an early chance for Theo Walcott who was put through down the middle. He twisted and turned and his shot was blocked only as far as Ramsey who saw his effort deflected over.
From the resulting corner, Vermaelen rose the highest in a crowded area to head Van Persie’s pinpoint cross past a stranded Tim Howard to give Arsene Wenger’s side the a deserved lead in the eighth minute.
Arsenal had the home side well and truly on the back foot and could have gone further ahead when Mikel Arteta slipped a ball through to Van Persie who saw his effort blocked, the ball then fell to Ramsey who saw his shot well saved by Howard.
The Toffees were restricted to counter attacks in the first half as they struggled to get any control over the game but they went close through Nikica Jelavic as he was put through Marouane Fellaini but failed to get his effort on target.
Moyes’ side took confidence from that attacking surge and should have been level if not for a poor decision from the linesman who wrongly disallowed Drenthe’s strike when it appeared he was well onside following another wonderful pass from Fellaini.
In the second half Arsenal struggled to find the tempo they had before the interval while Everton were taking advantage by pressing the Gunners' midfielders whenever they had the ball. The pressure carved out a chance for Fellaini but he could only head his chance straight at Szczesny.
The Gunners regained their composure and should have doubled their lead through Van Persie after being found unmarked in the area. The Dutchman composed himself and struck the ball well, despite it being slightly behind him, but saw his shot smack the post and bounce to safety.
After Van Persie’s near miss Arsenal began to regain control of the game and used their accurate passing game to keep the ball away from Everton which was working to great effect and helped run down the clock.
As the Toffees tried to press Wenger’s side in possession it opened up the field and space in behind which was nearly exploited in a good move between Walcott and Ramsey.
The England international broke down the right then drifted infield and found the Welshman who let fly with a powerful shot which was well saved by Howard as he got down well to his right to make the stop.
Moyes’ side kept plugging away at Arsenal however and came close to getting an equaliser when Drenthe shot from the edge of the area after the Gunners had failed to clear their lines from a corner but fortunately for them his shot went just over the bar.
Both teams pushed for a goal, the home-side trying to get back into the game while the visitors looked to kill the match. Van Persie and Ramsey had chances but couldn’t convert them while Fellaini and Jelavic couldn’t find their way past a stubborn Arsenal defence.
Wenger’s side held on for all three points despite a late onslaught and sealed their sixth win in a row in the Premier League to move above rivals Tottenham into third place while Everton remain in 10th place.