Arsenal thought they’d gone seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table as Mesut Ozil finally broke down the Everton defense with 10 minutes to go.
Unfortunately, Gerard Deulofeu had other ideas, and his immediate answer helped Everton secure a great road point with a 1-1 draw at the Emirates.
The Gunners started well and developed a few half chances but Everton quickly began to stick their foot into the possession statistics.
Everton held 63% of the possession through the first half, but Arsenal were dangerous on the counter.
The Gunners defense was also very organized, cutting out passes and limiting the Everton build-up. They didn’t press hard, allowing the Toffees midfielders to pass between themselves but getting forward and into the box was difficult.
Ross Barkley, probably Everton’s best player in the first half, created a chance for Kevin Mirallas in the 22nd minute running through the midfield but Mirallas fired over and wide.
The Gunners broke again, and Kieran Gibbs nearly had a chance off a cross from Cazolra in the 27th.
Arsenal pressed hard just before the halftime break, with Olivier Giroud fed through on goal but Howard came out well to give the Frenchman no room to shoot. It was the best chance by far for Arsenal in the first half.
The second half brought better possession from the home side, and they created more thanks to it.
In the 50th minute Ozil found Santi Cazorla on the other side of the box, and he one-two’d with Jack Wilshere but Cazorla couldn’t finish with the header, instead hitting at Howard.
On the other end just minutes later Barkley again found space at the top of the Arsenal box and forced a diving save from Wojciech Szczesny with a powerful drive.
Aaron Ramsey then took a cross from Gibbs and volleyed it on goal from a tight angle but again Howard denied the Gunners with an acrobatic stop.
It was an open spell to open the second half, but things closed off again, with Everton’s midfield again moving back to possession play. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger then made a very risky move, with a triple substitution. He brought off Whilshere, Cazorla, and Mikel Arteta and swapped them like-for-like with Tomas Rocisky, Mathieu Flamini, and Theo Walcott.
The build-ups went back and forth, and Everton had a chance as Leon Osman threaded Mirallas through but the shot took a deflection wide. The ensuing corner fell to Sylvain Distin for a header.
With both teams picking and prodding away at the opposition defense, Arsenal finally got the breakthrough for the home fans.
Rocisky worked the ball down the left flank and lofted a ball to the far post for Walcott. The England international mishit it, and Olivier Giroud was there. The Frenchman tried a volley at point blank range and also mishit, but Ozil was there to clean up the mess and his tap-in gave Arsenal the lead on 80 minutes.
But it wouldn’t last long. Bryan Oviedo, filling in brilliantly for the injured Leighton Baines at left-back, sent a cross into the box which Romelu Lukaku whiffed at with a bicycle kick attempt. The ball fell to substitute Gerard Deulofeu, and the young Spaniard somehow with no space ripped off a vicious strike that buried into the far top corner.
Deulofeu’s equalizer came just five minutes after coming on for the bright Mirallas.
Both sides pushed for all three points, but it was not to be. Olivier Giroud nearly won it in added time with a filthy volley – a thunderous shot – it hit the crossbar and like Arsenal’s winning hopes, it pinged away harmlessly.
The point does keep Arsenal five clear of Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the table, while remain in fifth, pipping Tottenham by a point.
Arsenal – Ozil 80′
Everton – Deulofeu 83′
Arsenal – Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscienly, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere (Flamini, 68′), Ramsey (Rocisky, 68′); Ozil, Cazorla (Walcott, 68′), Giroud.
Everton – Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo; McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar (Osman, 71′); Barkly (Naismith, 90′), Mirallas (Deulofeu, 79′), Lukaku.