Read how Champions League hopefuls Arsenal and Everton shared the points in a stalemate at the Emirates Stadium, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage.
By Joe Fish, Reporter Filed: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 18:55 UK
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 23:00 UK
Arsenal and Everton met at the Emirates Stadium this evening both hoping to enhance their chances of securing Champions League football for next season.
Third-placeArsenal could have opened up a four-point gap on all of their fellow top-four contenders with a win, while Everton would have moved level on points with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur with victory in this Premier League encounter.
However, neither side could pick up maximum points as they played out an entertaining goalless draw in North London, leaving Arsenal two points ahead of their capital rivals and Everton the same distance behind fourth place.
Below, you can read how the action unfolded.
6.58pmEvening all. This is a huge match in the race for Champions League qualification, with Arsenal currently occupying third place and Everton outsiders for a top-four finish.
7.10pmSo, Wilshere's inclusion is the headline piece of team news. Wenger insisted on Monday that he would not gamble on the fitness of his influential midfielder, who has recently returned from a six-week layoff due to an ankle injury.
7.12pmWenger told reporters: "I rushed Jack back a bit. He was not completely ready," Wenger said. "Jack has been out for six weeks, so maybe it was a bit too rushed, what I did.
"How careful have I to be? To listen well to the medical advice and that is what I have to do, use him when everything is all right and listen to him as well, how he feels.
"I will get advice from the medical department and how he feels as well and as well use my experience and the fact I know him very well. He practices with me since he was 16, so I know quite well how his body responds to things."
7.14pmThe fact that Wilshere is in Arsenal's starting XI means one of two things. Either Wenger believes that the England international is at full fitness, or he feels that he cannot afford to leave him out against an Everton side not short on motivation tonight.
7.16pmTheo Walcott is another key Gunners player who has been sidelined recently, but he makes his first start in exactly a month at the Emirates this evening.
7.18pmThere is also a recall for Wojciech Szczesny in goal. The Polish stopper had not featured for Arsenal since the north London derby defeat to Spurs on March 3.
7.20pmHis countryman, Lukas Fabianski, is missing after undergoing rib surgery this week. Vito Mannone is the replacement keeper on the home bench.
7.22pmThomas Vermaelen is also among the Arsenal substitutes, with Per Mertesacker returning at centre-back following the completion of his suspension.
7.24pmKieran Gibbs is again preferred to Nacho Monreal at left-back, while Mikel Arteta faces the club he made 187 appearances for during a six-year stay at Goodison Park.
7.26pmThe Spaniard joins Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey in a three-man midfield, with in-form Tomas Rosicky, who scored a brace in the win over West Bromwich Albion 10 days ago, only fit enough for a place on the bench.
7.28pmGervinho is another who has been impressive for the Gunners in recent weeks, but he is axed from the Arsenal XI this evening in order to accommodate Walcott's return.
7.30pmNow onto the visitors, who are without injured midfielder Leon Osman this evening. Youngster Ross Barkley is presented with a chance to impress in his absence.
7.31pmToffees boss David Moyes again opts for the physical presence of Victor Anichebe in attack, rather than the poaching skills of Croatian hitman Nikica Jelavic.
7.34pmMoyes has admitted that victory is essential tonight if they are to make a late charge into the top four. He told Sky Sports News: "We feel that we have to win tonight, if we have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League. We are coming here to win."
7.36pmA slightly ominous omen for Everton fans this evening is that Moyes has never overseen an away victory at Arsenal during his 10-year tenure on Merseyside. There's a first time for everything, though right?
7.38pmEven more worrying could be Arsenal's run of four consecutive Premier League wins, a sequence of results that have put the Gunners in pole position for a top-four finish.
7.40pmThey are 2/7 favourites for SkyBet to secure Champions League qualification, with Everton 10-1 outsiders. Chelsea can also be backed at 2/7, and Spurs at 11/8 with the same bookmakers.
7.41pmJust under five minutes until kickoff now, which means prediction time...
7.43pmPREDICTION: I fancy Arsenal to win this one. Everton always provide tough opposition, but the Gunners will see this as an opportunity to strengthen their grip on third and all but end the Champions League hopes of one of their to-four rivals. 3-1.
7.44pmThe players and fans observe a minute's silence in remembrance of the 96 fans that died in the Hillsborough disaster 24 years ago this week, and also as a sign of respect to those killed and injured in the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday.
2 minRamsey chases down a chipped ball over the top from Cazorla, cleverly turns away from Jagielka but delivers a cross that floats well over Giroud and Walcott in the box.
3 minBarkley's deflected pass finds Mirallas on the right edge of the Arsenal area, but the Belgian's first touch is heavy and Szczesny shields the ball behind for a goal kick.
6 minCHANCE! Glorious opportunity for Everton to open the scoring! Coleman threads a pass in between the two Arsenal centre-backs, and Pienaar ghosts in behind Sagna, only to strike over the bar, under pressure from Szczesny, from 12 yards.
8 minWilshire skips past two Everton challenges before being impeded by Fellaini, who appears to be occupying a deeper midfield role this evening. Barkley seems to be the closest Toffees man to lone striker Anichebe.
10 minNo team has scored more home Premier League goals than Arsenal this season (42), but the Gunners have yet to fashion even half an opening in tonight's early stages.
12 minColeman is hauled down by the retreating Ramsey as Everton counter. This game is already quite stretched, which I anticipate will suit Arsenal and the attacking talents at their disposal.
14 minWalcott, Cazorla and Pienaar all hit the floor in a lively passage of play, but referee Neil Swarbrick is happy to let the game flow despite some of the tasty early tackles.
16 minAn anxious moment for Arsenal fans, as Wilshere goes down clutching his leg after a challenge from Barkley, who got the ball but just caught the England midfielder on the follow through.
17 minThe Gunners physio is called on to assess the injury concern, but it proves only to be a scare as Wilshere returns to the action following his brief treatment.
19 minBoth of these teams could be playing Cardiff City in league action next season. The Bluebirds need just a point tonight from their Championship meeting with Charlton Athletic, a match I will be keeping you updated with here, to confirm their promotion to the top flight.
21 minKoscielny finds the chest of Giroud with a long pass forward and the Frenchman lays the ball back to Wilshere, who threatens to break through the Everton back line before the Toffees defence smother him and clear the danger.
23 minSHOT! Fellaini miscues a clearance straight to Cazorla on the edge of the box. He squares it to Gibbs, who creates a yard of space to shoot through Coleman's legs and just a few yards over the crossbar.
26 minBOOKING: Following some fervent Arsenal protests, Gibson picks up the first yellow card of the evening after clattering into Walcott.
30 minEverton are enjoying long spells off possession, albeit without penetrating the Gunners defence too often. Still, not many sides can claim to have more of the ball than Arsenal at the Emirates.
31 minMirallas shows some lovely skill to get away from Gibbs on the halfway line. He plays the ball inside to Pienaar, who looks for a return pass to the Belgian, who is just offside when he chips over Szczesny and wide of the far post.
33 minDRAMA! Arsenal are protesting that Gibson should be sent off after he obstructs a surging Walcott. Remember, the Everton midfielder has already been cautioned this half, but I don't think his block on Walcott was deliberate. It was more of a 'he couldn't get out of the way' case. Wenger certainly doesn't see it that way on the touchline, though.
35 minBOOKING: This one was definitely deliberate obstruction. Walcott skips inside Distin, who chases down the England winger, but Pienaar isn't taking any chances and purposefully blocks him off.
37 minThis time it is an Arsenal player who is fortunate to escape unpunished by referee Swarbrick, as Giroud needlessly goes through Coleman from behind. That was cynical and unnecessary, and should have been a yellow card.
39 minSHOT! Finally I have a chance, and not an act of ill-discipline to tell you about. Barkley collects the ball 25 yards out and isn't closed down, so tries a bending effort from range that Szczesny gathers quite comfortably.
40 minCHANCE! Superb turn from Barkley, who spins away from Arteta before slipping in Anichebe. Szczesny rushes out, and as Anichebe prepares to shoot, Gibbs slides in from behind and nips the ball away from him. It ricochets off Mertesacker, but Szczesny jumps on the loose ball as it trickles towards goal.
41 minMISS! Cazorla releases Ramsey down the right, and the Welshman delivers a superb early ball to Giroud, who beats Howard to the cross only to direct it wide on the stretch from eight yards. Brilliant chance for Arsenal.
43 minBLOCK! Things are hotting up here as we approach the break. Wilshere's perseverance and vision are on display as he shakes off several Everton challenges before cutting the ball back to Cazorla, who is in on goal after smartly nutmegging Gibson. He attempts to drive a shot low into the bottom corner, but Jagielka comes across to make a vital block.
45 minWe are entering first-half stoppage time, of which there will be two minutes...
8.38pmThat last five minutes was more like it! Despite the match being lively and stretched from its very early stages, there has only really been one notable chance for either side. Pienaar struck over the bar on six minutes after being played in by Coleman, while Giroud should have converted Ramsey's cross to give Arsenal a half-time lead.
8.41pmClick here to read Sports Mole's half-time report on the Emirates Stadium action, courtesy of my colleague, Pascal Lemesre.
8.43pmUPDATE: Cardiff entered the break goalless with Charlton in Wales, a result which would be enough to see them promoted to the Premier League tonight.
8.45pmAS IT STANDS: If the scoreline stays the same at the Emirates, Arsenal would move two points clear of Chelsea and Spurs in third, while Everton would move to within two points of the Champions League places.
8.47pmPictures are emerging on Sky Sports of an 'incident' that occurred as the players left the field. Mirallas thought it may be funny to squirt Wilshere with some of his refreshing beverage, but the Arsenal man did not find it amusing. There was pushing and shoving as they entered the tunnel, but nothing as feisty as we saw on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes.
47 minSHOT! Everton exchange some neat passing in midfield, before creating an opening for Mirallas to shoot at Szczesny, which he does, but tamely, allowing the Arsenal stopper to gather easily.
49 minSAVE! Gibbs climbs above Mirallas to win a knockdown which is hit sweetly by Cazorla on the volley, but Howard pushes the ball behind for a corner at his near post. Great technique from the Spaniard, though.
51 minSHOT! Gibbs wriggles away from Baines and Mirallas before pulling the ball back for Giroud, whose strike lacks control and flies over the crossbar.
52 minOutstanding defending from Distin, who, even at 35 years of age, has the pace to keep up with Walcott and pinch the ball from the Arsenal winger as he tried to get round the outside of the Everton man.
54 minCHANCE! Baines whips in a superb cross which Anichebe attacks at the near post, but fails to make sufficient contact and the ball drifts behind harmlessly for a goal kick.
55 minBOOKING: Arteta is cautioned against his former club after bringing down Pienaar on the edge of the box. This is right in Leighton Baines territory.
56 minBaines strikes the wall with his set-piece effort, and Arsenal counter through Walcott. He trades passes with Wilshere, but dribbles the ball slightly wide and is forced to cross rather than shoot. His delivery is just behind Giroud, though, who is tussled off the ball fairly by Distin.
58 minGibbs again finds himself in an advanced position down the left flank, and he travels into the box before attempting a cutback which is brilliantly intercepted by Jagielka.
60 minAfter Wilshere's scare in the first half, Walcott is another Arsenal injury concern. The England winger requires treatment following a collision with Baines, but like his teammate, is okay to continue.
64 minCLOSE! Barkley comes within inches of breaking the deadlock, losing Arteta and Wilshere on the left edge of the box before bending a shot just past the far post. Great effort, which left both him and Moyes with their hands on their heads.
65 minRamsey picks out Cazorla with a wonderful pass, but the Spaniard cannot bring it under control.
67 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Arsenal's pair of recalled injury doubts, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, last just over an hour before Wenger swaps them for the fresher legs of Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
69 minBOOKING: Barkley has shown some lovely skill tonight, but here is given a dose of his own medicine as Ramsey cleverly spins away from him, forcing the Everton man to tug at his shirt - an offence which sees Barkley cautioned.
70 minBaines nearly picks out Mirallas with an outrageous 60-yard pass, but Gibbs rises to make an important clearing header.
72 minCHANCE! Giroud nods a Cazorla corner back across goal towards Mertesacker, who powers a header over the crossbar.
73 minArsenal again threaten through a set-piece, as Ramsey sneaks round the back to win the initial header, and then audaciously flick a follow-up effort which is blocked by Howard.
75 minSUBSTITUTION: David Moyes introduces a second striker, sacrificing the impressive Barkley for Nikica Jelavic.
77 minCHANCE! Arsenal counter superbly and seem destined to score when Podolski plays in Oxlade-Chamberlain on the overlap. He squares it for Giroud in the middle, but Coleman comes across to make an incredible block on his own goalline to foil the Frenchman.
79 minCHANCE! The same combination nearly unlock Everton again. Oxlade-Chamberlain delivers an early cross which Giroud controls well. He shifts the ball far enough away from Jagielka to create room for a shot on his weaker foot, which ends up high in the stands.
81 minArsenal have scored so many late goals recently, including three in the last five minutes against Norwich City on Saturday. Another one here would be gold dust for the Gunners, and they are certainly the side looking most likely to score at the moment.
83 minAn Everton attack is cut short as the assistant referee adjudges that Anichebe fouled Mertesacker in the process of winning an aerial duel.
84 minUPDATE: It is still goalless at the Cardiff City Stadium, which means that the Bluebirds are just five minutes plus added time away from the Premier League!
85 minHoward makes an excellent clearing punch from a Cazorla corner, and Mirallas then dwells on the ball in his own box, but eventually boots the ball away from danger. Momentary respite for the Toffees.
87 minEverton have a chance to break, and Gibson bides his time before switching play to the unmarked Mirallas on the right edge of the box. He immediately looks to cut inside and get a shot away, but his touch is heavy and Arteta intercepts.
89 minCHANCE! Cazorla plays the surging Arteta in behind, but Distin does brilliantly to slow him up and allow Coleman to poke the ball away from the former Everton man.
90 minSUBSTITUTION: Wenger swaps Gibbs and Monreal for stoppage time, of which there will be four minutes...
90+1 minSHOT! Monreal backs off Anichebe, who takes up the invitation to shoot from 25 yards, only to do so high and wide when better options may have been available.
90+2 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Moyes replaces Mirallas and Anichebe for Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo for the last couple of minutes.
90+3 minBOOKING: Naismith buys a foul from the newly-introduced Monreal, who is yellow carded for his troubles. Everton launch the resultant free kick into the box, but Mertesacker wins a crucial header at the back post.
9.42pmFor a goalless draw, that was pretty damn entertaining. Both sides, especially Arsenal, had chances to break the deadlock and snatch three crucial points which would have boosted their top-four hopes, but in the end, the spoils were shared.
9.43pmPrior to the game, David Moyes said that victory was imperative if Everton were to qualify for the Champions League, so he may not be content with just a point. Arsene Wenger may also see this as dropped points on home soil. Perhaps Spurs and Chelsea are the two teams most satisfied with tonight's result. Arsenal are now two points ahead of their London rivals, while Everton are the same distance behind fourth place.
9.45pmRESULT! Just to confirm, Cardiff City will be playing Premier League football next season after their 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic this evening. Congrats to the Bluebirds, who will end their 52-year wait for top-flight football next campaign.
9.47pmThat is it from me for this evening. You can read Sports Mole's full-time report of the contest here. Thanks for joining us for tonight's action. Over and out...