London, Dec 11: Robin van Persie rescued Arsenal again by crashing home a stunning volley to earn a 1-0 win over Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Netherlands striker peeled off his marker to meet a floated pass by Alex Song in the 70th minute with a powerful shot that went in off the far post, taking his league-high tally to 15 goals.
“Robin got us a goal, which was at the moment of the game where we struggled a little bit to create chances,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “He delivered something special and three important points.”
The deserved victory was the perfect way for Arsenal to celebrate the club's 125-year anniversary festivities, lifting Wenger's team provisionally above Chelsea into the top four thanks to a sixth win in eight league games.
Arsenal legends Frank McLintock, Charlie George, David O'Leary, George Graham, Robert Pires, Jens Lehmann and Thierry Henry—who on Friday was one of three former players to have a bronze statue of him unveiled outside the Emirates—all helped make up a guard of honor as Van Persie led the current side onto the field.
“Today was an historic day for us. So it's not easy to keep the focus right with so many people here and the celebration before the game, with everybody coming back,” Wenger said.
“But we were a bit historical today as well because we won 1-0,” added the Frenchman, referring to a scoreline Arsenal was famous for having in its title-winning years under Graham in 1989 and 1991.
The winning margin could have been bigger had the hosts taken advantage of a number of clear-cut chances, particularly in the first half when Theo Walcott ran riot down the right wing up against England teammate Leighton Baines.
Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho wasted one-on-one chances before the break, before Van Persie failed to get the right connection from Walcott's volleyed cross and ended up skying a finish over the bar in the 54th.
Walcott then drew a wonderful, one-handed save from United States goalkeeper Tim Howard two minutes later, only for Van Persie to save the day with his 12th goal in his last eight league games.
It was the Dutchman's 33rd goal of the calendar year, one fewer than Henry's haul in 2004. Former Newcastle and Blackburn striker Alan Shearer holds the all-time record with 36.
“It was a terrific finish, a really good goal which beat us,” Everton manager David Moyes said. “But we can't kid ourselves because we were fortunate to go into halftime at 0-0.”
The nearest Everton came to salvaging a draw was in second-half stoppage time, when substitute Conor McAleny flashed a drive just wide. The defeat left the northwest team in mid-table.