Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a debut goal and Aaron Ramsey his first hat-trick as Arsenal thumped a disorganised Everton.
Aubameyang, a club-record £56m signing from Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, chipped in from fellow new arrival Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass as the home side led 4-0 by half-time.
Television replays showed the goal should have been ruled out for offside, although the visitors could hardly claim the decision made a huge difference to the match.
Everton conceded three times in the opening 20 minutes amid defensive chaos, with Ramsey touching in the opener from Mkhitaryan’s cross.
Laurent Koscielny got in front of Aubameyang to head the second at the far post after Shkodran Mustafi glanced on Mesut Ozil’s corner, before Ramsey scored a deflected third.
Aubameyang struck the fourth before half-time, prompting Everton manager Sam Allardyce to abandon his three-man central defence and revert to a back four.
Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed an Everton consolation from Cuco Martina’s left-wing delivery, before Ramsey swept in his hat-trick goal from another low Mkhitaryan cross.
However, Arsenal lost goalkeeper Petr Cech to a calf injury in a collision with Oumar Niasse as the striker hit the post in the second half.
Aubameyang makes light work of debut
In normal circumstances, Ramsey’s first career hat-trick would have guaranteed him the headlines, but Aubameyang’s high-profile arrival during the week ensured he grabbed the attention.
The Gabon striker did much to lift the mood among fans despondent after Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea.
Aubameyang overcame a midweek illness to start against Everton – and his first display in Arsenal red was perhaps a sign of things to come.
There was a well-taken goal, although it should not have counted, and a demonstration of his fearsome pace. One first-half break saw him race clear on to an Ozil pass, and he was denied only by the knees of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
On the flip side, there was also a hint of his individualistic streak – he did not seem too thrilled when Koscielny beat him to the scoring touch for Arsenal’s second, throwing his arms out in front of him in an apparent gesture of mild frustration.
He can drift out of games too. He touched the ball 25 times during the match. No outfield player who started the game had fewer touches.
However, if he can produce the kind of scoring form that marked his time at Dortmund, Arsenal may yet have hope of making up the gap to the top four, which is currently three points.
More to follow.