Olivier Giroud, who missed several chances as the Gunners slumped to a 3-1 home defeat by Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday, netted a fine volley on 39 minutes to put Arsenal ahead yesterday.
Substitute Tomas Rosicky then scored a late deflected effort to eventually settle what was at times a nervy encounter. Everton, impressive winners of their Europa League tie against Young Boys on Thursday night, had plenty of possession, but could not find a way past David Ospina, who made a fine point-blank save from Romelu Lukaku.
Despite their shortcoming in Europe, Arsene Wenger’s men remain in good domestic form, as a third successive league win moved them ahead of Manchester United and are now just four points behind Manchester City after their defeat at Liverpool.
Arsenal took the lead on 39 minutes.
Mesut Ozil whipped in a corner from the right, and Gabriel, who signed from Villarreal in the January transfer window, made a run to the near post which opened space for Giroud in the six-yard box. The France striker got ahead of his marker to guide the ball into the far corner.
The Gunners continued to press ahead of half-time, and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard touched over a dipping 20-yard effort from Santi Cazorla, who was captaining the side. Everton, who find themselves in the bottom half of the table, made a positive start after the break as Gareth Barry sent a volley over.
Giroud saw his close-range effort cannon off the arm of Phil Jagielka as the Everton skipper made an important block while on the ground before the France striker played a clever one-two with Cazorla at the edge of the Everton box, and the Spaniard sent a rising drive just over.
On 64 minutes, Arsenal’s Colombian goalkeeer Ospina produced a superb reflex save to turn over Lukaku’s near-post drive at point-blank range.
There was a long stoppage after a clash of heads between Giroud and team-mate Francis Coquelin, leaving the midfielder with blood pouring from his nose. Ospina showed good reflexes again after Seamus Coleman’s low cross from the right was turned goalwards by Aaron Lennon, the former Tottenham winger on as a substitute for Everton.
The Toffees continued to show plenty of industry and were enjoying a spell of possession as the match headed into the closing ten minutes.
Arsenal almost sealed it on the break, but Jagielka made a goal-saving block as Ozil looked to stab the ball into the far corner after being played in by Giroud.
The Everton captain, though, could then only help a low strike from Rosicky fly past his own keeper as Arsenal eventually made sure of all three points in the final minute of the match, before some seven added on for stoppages.