LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Arsenal scored in the first minute and was still fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at Everton on Wednesday after getting pegged back for much of the game between two teams vying for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the perfect start when his shot was deflected over goalkeeper Tim Howard from a tight angle less than a minute after kickoff. But Everton was the better side after that, and Marouane Fellaini equalized in the 28th with a shot from outside the area after a failed clearance by Bacary Sagna landed right at his feet.
Everton pegged Arsenal back for much of the second half but lacked sharp finishing in the area, and was denied a penalty when former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta appeared to foul Steven Pienaar in the area.
It was Everton's sixth draw in eight league matches after an impressive start to the season and they have now dropped to sixth, with the Gunners one point behind. Arsenal had won eight and drawn two of its last 10 league meetings with Everton and looked headed for another victory when Walcott — who has yet to renew his contract which expires after this season — gave an example of what he offers in the penalty area.
Walcott put the visitors ahead after just 52 seconds after trading passes with Aaron Ramsey and his shot looped up off Tony Hibbert and over Howard. Arsenal was forced to reshuffle minutes later when Laurent Koscielny injured himself clearing the ball and was replaced by leftback Kieran Gibbs, with Thomas Vermaelen reverting to his usual place in the center.
Fellaini took a while to get into the game and his downward header at a corner lacked any threat and was collected by Wojciech Szczesny at the second attempt. However, the Belgium international capitalized when Sagna, under pressure from Steven Pienaar, duffed a cross-field clearance straight to Everton's leading scorer 25 yards out.
He took a moment to get the ball under control before curling a low, left-footed shot inside Szczesny's right-hand post.