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One-nIl to the Arsenal – what other scoreline could there be as the club celebrated its 125th anniversary?

Robin Van Persie scored the game’s only goal with a spectacular volley in front of the watching Thierry Henry and a host of other greats from the club’s past.

Henry would have been proud of Van Persie’s strike as it edged him to within one goal of the Frenchman’s record of 34 goals in a year. More importantly it moved Arsenal into the top four of the Premier League for the first time this season.

Yet until Van Persie scored in the 70th minute it had looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the Gunners after their anniversary celebrations before kick-off.

George Graham, one of the greatest figures in Arsenal’s history, was also watching and though he would have been delighted with the scoreline, he must also have been impressed by the offside trap Everton opreated so effectvely in the opening half.

Three times Van Persie was denied a goalscoring opportunity by a raised flag, while the away defenders raised their arms in a style reminiscent of Tony Adams.

When the Gunners did get a clear sight of goal, they found Tim Howard and his cohorts in stubborn form.

Arsenal looked certain to score in the 15th minute when Mikel Arteta stole the ball from his former team-mate Marouane Fellaini and slid it through to Theo Walcott. The winger drew Howard before passing across unselfishly to Gervinho in front of goal, but Tony Hibbert slid in to clip the ball away from goal and then deflected the Ivorian’s follow-up shot over the bar.

Just before the half-hour mark, Aaron Ramsey got past the offside trap but Howard was out quickly, forcing the Welshman to spin and hit a shot on the turn that grazed the roof of the net.

A minute later Gervinho, having briefly swapped flanks with Walcott, was put through on the right but his low shot was saved by the outstretched foot of Howard,

Then Van Persie set up Walcott to run on goal, and though the winger got to the byline, his cutback across goal was cleared by Johnny Heitinga, who made another vital block to keep out the winger’s cross moments later.

Arsenal appealed for a penalty shortly before half-time when Thomas Vermaelen’s goalbound header was blocked by Phil Jagielka, but the England defender used his chest rather than arm to shield the ball.

Home supporters, having been reminded so strikingly of the club’s former glories, began to get frustratted at the wasted opportunities, with Walcott’s crosses starting to go astray, and the cameras showed shots of Thierry Henry looking on miserably from the stands.

Arsenal’s frustration continued into the second half. Van Persie put the ball high over from a driven cross by Walcott, who then shot wastefully high after cutting in from the right. The England winger did manage to get a shot on target shortly afterwards, but Howard saved at his near post.

At the opposite end, Everton were restricted to attacking mostly on the break. One promising move broke down when refreee Howard Webb halted play with Hibbert just about to cross the ball because Tim Cahill had lost a boot, which forced the Australian out of action for the next minute or so.

He showed off his new footwear with a stinging shot, and then forced Vermaelen into a diving header behind his own goal from a Leighton Baines cross.

When lone striker Louis Saha limped off in the 65th minute, David Moyes sent on a defender, Sylvain Distin, to replace him.

Although Phil Neville and Fellaini got in shots that flew just over the bar, the substitution handed the initiative back to Arsenal, who seized it with both hands. Having barely threatened Howard’s goal for half an hour, the Gunners struck with a goal out of the blue – and what a strike it was.

There seemed no immediate danger when Alex Song chipped a pass towards Van Persie on the edge of the Everton penalty area in the 70th minute.

But, as the ball dropped over his shoulder, the Dutchman met it perfectly with his trusty left foot, and from 15 yards his volley flew into the far corner of the goal, hitting the insde of the post on its way.

It brought Henry and the rest of Arsenal’s supporters to their feet, and settled their nerves, as Wenger’s men closed out the game to finish with a familiar scoreline.

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