A late Ashley Williams goal condemned Arsenal to their first away defeat of the Premier League season, as the Gunners return from Goodison Park with a 2-1 defeat versus Everton.
Seamus Coleman’s equaliser on the brink of half-time was enough to cancel out Alexis Sánchez’s opener, with Williams’ header in the 86th minute tipping the scales in Everton’s favour in a hectic end to the game, subsequently preventing Arsenal from momentarily occupying top spot in the league.
Despite a solid start, the Gunners would have to wait until the 20th minute before conjuring up any piece of goal action, courtesy of the free-kick won by Francis Coquelin on the edge of the box that plucked out a yellow card for Phil Jagielka.
Sánchez stepped up to the ball and was on hand to put Arsenal 1-0 up thanks to Williams’ deflection that sent Maarten Stekelenburg the wrong way.
Enner Valencia registered Everton’s first half-chance of the game as late as the 29th minute, glancing a header wide of its intended target from a near-post position.
Two more opportunities fell the hosts’ way in the few minutes following the Ecuadorian’s chance, as both Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku sliced efforts wide from the left flank.
The alarm bells continued to ring for Arsène Wenger’s men, with Lennon again at the heart of it all when misguiding a shot over from inside the box prior to a miss-kicked clearance by Nacho Monreal.
As the clock ticked closer to the interval, the Toffees eventually got their goal through Coleman, meeting Baines’ right-footed cross with a header towards the back-post that left Petr Čech rooted.
Arsenal proved to be the superior side once again immediately after the restart and will undoubtedly look back on the chance spurned by Mesut Özil in the 54th minute, failing to keep his effort from Sánchez’s cut-back under the bar after lingering expertly around the edge of the area.
Everton’s response came in the 60th minute through Ross Barkley, taking full advantage of Lukaku’s lay-off before driving his left-footed shot past Čech’s far post.
Second-half substitute Alex Iwobi totted up Arsenal’s chances further when picking out Sánchez’s cross from mid-air, but the young midfielder’s failure to keep his balance saw his half-volley hit the side-netting.
With 85 minutes on the clock, the Gunners were up against the hosts’ momentum once more, going close to conceding from a Jagielka volley that required Čech’s intervention.
From the following corner, however, the killer blow with Arsenal’s name on it emerged, as Williams sunk in the winner in the 86th minute that gave Everton a 2-1 lead.
Jagielka received a second yellow card for a bookable offence in the 93rd minute and the north Londoners almost made full use of the Englishman’s absence with the few seconds that remained.
Following a pinball scenario, Iwobi was left with a loose ball and a semi-vacated goal to aim at, but Baines was on hand to produce the heroics with a crucial block on the line that concluded the Gunners’ first away defeat since February 2016.
Arsenal now remain in 2nd place with 34 points, one behind table toppers Chelsea ahead of tomorrow’s fixtures, with the Blues, Liverpool and Manchester City all in action.
Player Ratings: Petr Čech (6); Héctor Bellerín (6), Gabriel Paulista (5), Laurent Koscielny (7), Nacho Monreal (6); Granit Xhaka (5), Francis Coquelin (6), Theo Walcott (5), Mesut Özil (4), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (4); Alexis Sánchez (6)
Subs: Olivier Giroud (5), Alex Iwobi (5), Lucas Pérez (N/A)