Robin van Persie scored a sensational volley to mark Arsenal's 125th birthday with a victory over Everton that puts them fourth in the Premier League.

The Dutchman hit his 33rd league goal of the calendar year to move him three behind Alan Shearer's record of 36.

It was Van Persie's only opportunity during a stop-start match in which Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey squandered chances to open the scoring.

Everton went close late on but managed just one attempt on target all match.

Wenger relieved after important win

The result sees Arsenal leapfrog Chelsea - who face Manchester City on Monday - and occupy a Champions League spot for the first time this season.

They have now won seven of their last eight Premier League matches, taking 22 points from a possible 24, following a dreadful start to the campaign.

It was a fitting scoreline on the club's landmark anniversary, and appropriate that Van Persie should get the winner.

Everton have still not won at Arsenal since 1996 and they now sit 12th in the table, with four defeats from their last six league matches.

While Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had warned his players against letting the pre-match festivities distract them from the task at hand, they clearly struggled for fluency early on.

Despite dominating possession and territory, they were being comfortably contained by Everton's well-organised midfield and diligent back four.

In fact, it was the visitors who created the first chance of any note as a Wojciech Szczesny punch fell to Louis Saha and his drive was blocked in a goalmouth scramble.

DID YOU KNOW?

Everton have lost on 14 of their last 16 league visits to Arsenal

Arsenal were playing without a recognised full-back - their defence comprising four centre-halves - and the lack of width was hindering their progress.

They instead began to probe with balls through the middle and it was with four such deliveries that they had chances to open the scoring.

First, former Toffee Mikel Arteta sent Walcott racing clear but instead of shooting he squared towards Ramsey, who was foiled by Tony Hibbert.

A similar situation saw Gervinho play in Van Persie rather than going for goal himself, only for the Dutchman to drift marginally offside.

Ramsey then curled over after being released by Alex Song and Gervinho was denied by the legs of Tim Howard.

Everton were now firmly on the back foot and it required some sharp work from Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka to thwart Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen.

Moyes happy with display despite defeat

Arsenal pressed forward again after half-time but other than a venomous Walcott shot that Howard repelled with a fine one-handed save, the hosts offered little cutting edge.

Moyes replaced Saha with centre-back Sylvain Distin, leaving his team without a recognised striker, yet for a short period they were on top of their opponents.

Vermaelen's last-ditch header prevented Tim Cahill from meeting a Leighton Baines cross at the back post while Phil Neville fired on to the roof of the net.

However, just as Wenger was preparing to introduce Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky, Van Persie struck - and how.

The 28-year-old watched Song's lofted cross-field pass all the way on to his left boot and volleyed a superb low finish across Howard and in off the post.

It moved him to within one goal of Thierry Henry's 34 in 2004 and Henry - honoured with a statue outside the stadium on Friday - rose from his seat in the stands to applaud Van Persie.

He almost made it two with a header before Everton applied some late pressure - substitute Conor McAleny drilling inches wide - but Arsenal were able to celebrate.

Everton manager David Moyes:

"We were fortunate to reach half-time at 0-0. At the break we sorted things out and were better in the second half.

"I've got to give credit to Van Persie, it was a great goal. We didn't mean to give them chances but they're a good team.

"Our team did brilliantly to be in the game. We stuck at it and did a good job. This is disappointing but we'll think about the next game tomorrow."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

Arsenal

  • 13 Szczesny
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 05 Vermaelen (Miquel - 82' )
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 20 Djourou
  • 08 Arteta Booked
  • 14 Walcott (Frimpong - 89' )
  • 16 Ramsey Booked
  • 17 Song
  • 10 Van Persie
  • 27 Gervinho (Rosicky - 83' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Almunia
  • 49 Miquel
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 23 Arshavin
  • 26 Frimpong
  • 30 Benayoun
  • 29 Chamakh

Everton

  • 24 Howard
  • 02 Hibbert
  • 03 Baines
  • 05 Heitinga
  • 06 Jagielka
  • 18 Neville (McAleny - 76' )
  • 23 Coleman Booked
  • 07 Bilyaletdinov (Gueye - 76' )
  • 17 Cahill
  • 25 Fellaini
  • 08 Saha (Distin - 64' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 01 Mucha
  • 15 Distin
  • 20 Barkley
  • 11 Stracqualursi
  • 19 Gueye
  • 27 Vellios
  • 43 McAleny
Ref: H Webb
Att: 60,062

Match Stats

Shots

12 7

On target

7 1

Corners

7 4

Fouls

7 14

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:02 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +2:03

Effort from the edge of the area by Conor McAleny goes wide of the right-hand post.

90:00 +1:29

Shot by Robin van Persie from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.

88:54 Substitution

Substitution Emmanuel Frimpong comes on in place of Theo Walcott.

86:58

Tomas Rosicky fouled by Johnny Heitinga, the ref awards a free kick. Aaron Ramsey takes the direct free kick.

86:07

Effort from the edge of the area by Magaye Gueye goes wide of the right-hand upright.

85:39

Leighton Baines sends in a cross, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

83:10

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Marouane Fellaini. Direct free kick taken by Per Mertesacker.

81:18

Free kick taken by Johan Djourou.

81:18 Substitution

Substitution Yao Gervinho leaves the field to be replaced by Tomas Rosicky.

81:18 Substitution

Substitution Thomas Vermaelen leaves the field to be replaced by Ignasi Miquel.

81:18 Booking

Booking Sylvain Distin is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

81:13

Theo Walcott fouled by Sylvain Distin, the ref awards a free kick.

80:50

Centre by Magaye Gueye, blocked by Mikel Arteta. Short corner taken by Leighton Baines.

79:47

Foul by Tim Cahill on Yao Gervinho, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Alex Song.

79:33

Foul by Marouane Fellaini on Thomas Vermaelen, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Ramsey.

77:17

Mikel Arteta takes the inswinging corner, Robin van Persie produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.

75:20 Substitution

Substitution Diniyar Bilyaletdinov goes off and Magaye Gueye comes on.

75:20 Substitution

Substitution Conor McAleny replaces Phil Neville.

74:25

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tim Cahill on Alex Song. Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.

70:27

Seamus Coleman crosses the ball.

69:01

The assist for the goal came from Alex Song.

69:01 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Arsenal 1 - 0 Everton Robin van Persie finds the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-0 Everton.

68:14

A cross is delivered by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.

67:39

Shot by Marouane Fellaini from outside the area goes high over the crossbar.

66:45

The ball is swung over by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

64:57

Shot from just outside the box by Phil Neville goes over the crossbar.

64:11

Foul by Mikel Arteta on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, free kick awarded. Tim Howard takes the direct free kick.

63:53

The ball is delivered by Thomas Vermaelen, clearance by Phil Jagielka.

63:10 Substitution

Substitution Louis Saha goes off and Sylvain Distin comes on.

62:50

Tim Cahill gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Ramsey. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Ramsey.

61:22

The ball is swung over by Theo Walcott, clearance made by Tony Hibbert.

59:48

The offside flag is raised against Marouane Fellaini. Indirect free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

58:35

A cross is delivered by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov takes the inswinging corner, Robin van Persie manages to make a clearance.

58:21

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Per Mertesacker.

57:23

Thomas Vermaelen concedes a free kick for a foul on Seamus Coleman. Leighton Baines crosses the ball in from the free kick, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.

56:17

Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie, clearance made by Tim Cahill.

56:05

Theo Walcott takes a shot. Save by Tim Howard.

55:37

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.

55:00

Theo Walcott produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.

54:15

Seamus Coleman gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen. Direct free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

53:31

Effort on goal by Robin van Persie from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.

52:44

Marouane Fellaini concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikel Arteta. Free kick crossed by Robin van Persie, save made by Tim Howard.

52:10

The ball is delivered by Leighton Baines. Marouane Fellaini is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

51:52

The assistant referee flags for offside against Tim Cahill. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.

51:03

A cross is delivered by Thomas Vermaelen, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Leighton Baines by Theo Walcott. Tim Howard restarts play with the free kick.

50:42

Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.

48:30

Theo Walcott is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Johnny Heitinga takes the indirect free kick.

47:57

Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Phil Neville gets a block in.

45:39

Foul by Tim Cahill on Thomas Vermaelen, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +3:20 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.

45:00 +1:45

The ball is sent over by Theo Walcott, Tim Howard makes a save.

45:00 +1:07

Louis Saha produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.

45:00 +0:20

A cross is delivered by Theo Walcott.

43:04

Corner from the right by-line taken by Robin van Persie, Johnny Heitinga manages to make a clearance.

41:30

The ball is delivered by Theo Walcott, blocked by Leighton Baines. Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Marouane Fellaini manages to make a clearance.

40:45

Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Blocked by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

40:30

The ball is sent over by Theo Walcott, Johnny Heitinga gets a block in. Corner taken by Robin van Persie, Tim Howard makes a save.

37:23 Booking

Booking Booking for Aaron Ramsey for unsporting behaviour.

35:08

Theo Walcott produces a cross, Johnny Heitinga makes a clearance.

32:08

Foul by Tim Cahill on Aaron Ramsey, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.

31:45

The referee blows for offside. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.

30:24

The ball is crossed by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, blocked by Per Mertesacker. Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the left by-line to the near post, Shot by Marouane Fellaini from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.

29:04

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Save by Tim Howard.

28:25

Effort on goal by Aaron Ramsey from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.

25:52

Robin van Persie is ruled offside. Tim Howard takes the indirect free kick.

25:10

The ball is crossed by Tony Hibbert, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.

24:54

Marouane Fellaini produces a cross, Laurent Koscielny manages to make a clearance.

24:00

Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Blocked by Tim Cahill.

23:20

Mikel Arteta restarts play with the free kick.

23:20 Booking

Booking Seamus Coleman is booked.

23:09

Free kick awarded for a foul by Seamus Coleman on Theo Walcott.

22:46

Foul by Alex Song on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

21:50

Alex Song concedes a free kick for a foul on Marouane Fellaini. Johnny Heitinga restarts play with the free kick.

21:01

Corner taken left-footed by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Tony Hibbert.

20:54

The ball is crossed by Yao Gervinho, blocked by Seamus Coleman.

19:47

The offside flag is raised against Robin van Persie. Johnny Heitinga takes the free kick.

19:32

The ball is swung over by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

17:23

The ball is crossed by Aaron Ramsey, clearance by Tony Hibbert.

16:17

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Leighton Baines. Direct free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.

15:02

Tim Howard restarts play with the free kick.

15:02 Booking

Booking Caution for Mikel Arteta.

14:57

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Seamus Coleman by Mikel Arteta.

14:33

Corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta to the near post, save by Tim Howard.

14:09

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Tony Hibbert gets a block in.

12:28

Theo Walcott is caught offside. Johnny Heitinga restarts play with the free kick.

11:27

Robin van Persie sends in a cross, save by Tim Howard.

10:27

Corner from the left by-line taken by Leighton Baines, save made by Wojciech Szczesny. Louis Saha takes a shot. Blocked by Thomas Vermaelen.

8:04

Unfair challenge on Johan Djourou by Louis Saha results in a free kick. Wojciech Szczesny takes the direct free kick.

7:29

Theo Walcott is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Johnny Heitinga.

6:43

Thomas Vermaelen gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Seamus Coleman. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Phil Neville from right wing.

1:21

The official flags Seamus Coleman offside. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.

0:50

The assistant referee flags for offside against Theo Walcott. Johnny Heitinga takes the indirect free kick.

0:00

The game kicks-off.

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