Returning duo see spoils shared
Published 28/11/2012 | 22:12
Arsenal forward Theo Walcott and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini both marked their first-team returns with a goal but the 1-1 draw was little use in the battle to regain a top-four spot in the Barclays Premier League.
Walcott, who had missed two matches with a shoulder injury, scored after just 52 seconds only for Fellaini, having served a one-match ban, to equalise just before the half-hour mark.
Everton thought they should have had a second-half penalty when former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta appeared to foul Steven Pienaar, but their appeals went unheard.
Fans barely had the chance to take their seats before he put the visitors ahead in a move which carved open the Everton defence in a manner which will have infuriated manager David Moyes.
Walcott set off on a diagonal right-to-left run, aided by a fortunate rebound off Phil Jagielka, but when he got to the edge of the penalty area he offloaded to Aaron Ramsey. The England international continued the path of his run and his Welsh team-mate duly returned the ball for him to fire in a shot which looped up off Tony Hibbert and over goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Arsenal were forced into a reshuffle minutes later when Laurent Koscielny injured himself clearing the ball and was replaced by left-back Kieran Gibbs, with Thomas Vermaelen reverting to his usual place in the centre.
In the 28th minute Bacary Sagna, under pressure from Steven Pienaar, duffed a cross-field clearance straight to Fellaini 25 yards out. The Belgian took a moment to get the ball under control before curling a low, left-footed shot inside the right-hand post.
Nikica Jelavic then produced a moment of sublime skill to control Fellaini's flick on his chest and turn Per Mertesacker but his finish in no way matched his touch and he ballooned a shot into the Park End.
Arteta's challenge then sent Pienaar sprawling in the penalty area - television replays suggesting the Spaniard got nowhere near the ball - only for referee Mike Jones to award a corner.
Jelavic had one late chance to snatch victory in the 89th minute but he fired his cross-shot through the six-yard box.