Beattie’s strike gives Everton fourth straight win


LIVERPOOL: James Beattie continued Everton's recent revival with the 13th-minute goal that ensured a fourth successive victory for David Moyes's side and dealt another blow to Arsenal's hopes of a return to the Champions League next season. 

Just seven days ago, Arsene Wenger's side had been basking in the glory of their 7-0 thrashing of Middlesbrough. But they were brought back down to earth with a bump by a spirited and passionate Everton display that left the visitors battered and bemused by the final whistle. 

And to cap a miserable afternoon for Wenger and his players, Cesc Fabregas, the young Spanish midfielder, was sent off for lashing out at Everton's Tim Cahill in the final minutes of the game. 

Arsenal's problems should not however detract from an Everton performance that recalled their success of last season and virtually extinguished any lingering threat of Moyes' side being dragged into a relegation battle. 

Everton immediately set the tone of the game, imposing their more physical, up-tempo approach on the shell-shocked visitors. 

With midfielders Phil Neville and Tim Cahill snapping into tackles and strikers James Beattie and Leon Osman constantly harrying Arsenal's distinctly shaky looking makeshift defence, the visitors were quickly exposed and forced into a series of desperate clearances. 

Arsenal's problems lay at centre back where both Phillippe Senderos and the vastly experienced Sol Campbell failed to come to terms with Beattie's powerful running. 

And it was that weakness that Everton eventually exploited to claim a deserved 13th minute lead through Beattie's seventh strike of the season. 

The build-up to the goal was simplicity itself and undoubtedly sparked a major inquest in the Arsenal dressing room about how the Everton striker was allowed to collect Cahill's hopeful, lobbed pass so easily. 

With both Senderos and Campbell covering, there should have been no danger but Beattie simply shrugged off the defenders' flimsy challenges before calmly stabbing the ball past the advancing Jens Lehmann. 

To add to Wenger's frustration, Arsenal should themselves have taken the lead just 60 seconds earlier when Freddioe Ljungberg connected with Gilbert's low right-wing cross but saw his close range effort pushed onto the post by the alert Nigel Martyn. 

That, though, was a rare first half threat to Martyn's goal and Everton would have been two up after 25 minutes had an over-confident Beattie taken more care and not clipped Fabregas's poor back-pass wide of Lehmann's left hand post. 

Arsenal were never likely to be as ineffective after the break and for a 20-minute spell looked capable of hauling themselves back into the game. 

But with Everton defence – bolstered by the 32nd-minute introduction of cancer survivor Alan Stubbs following his return to Goodison Park from Sunderland – stood firm and, tellingly, reduced Thierry Henry to nothing more than a bit-part role. – AFP 

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