Ross Barkley shines for Everton while Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Arsenal's defensive rocks
Roberto Martínez's previous visit to the Emirates Stadium prompted heartbreak when he was relegated with Wigan Athletic , days after winning the FA Cup. The descent from that high point served to magnify the emotions. Martínez is more serene at present and little wonder. His team have a good balance. There is cocky youth and experience, defensive steel and attacking thrust. They are proving a match for anyone and, after the win at Manchester United, here was further evidence of their character. Martínez could talk about getting "rid of a mental block". They refused to be cowed by Mesut Özil's goal and it would have been rough justice had they departed empty-handed. No Premier League team have lost fewer games.
Arsène Wenger wore his sleeping-bag coat and he was first sighted in that great flap of his in the 34th minute. He could not be happy at the way his team performed in the first half, a late flurry apart, and, although they were more coherent in the second, this represented an opportunity missed to extend their advantage at the top. Wenger was clearly unhappy at some of Everton's challenges when his players had broken free from their pressing but he could also lament his team's lack of care on the ball, the absence of cutting edge in front of goal and, most irritatingly from his perspective, the lapse that allowed the Everton substitute Gerard Deulofeu to crash home the equaliser. Kieran Gibbs did not get close enough to the young Spaniard. Wenger complained that Romelu Lukaku ought to have been penalised for a high boot in the build-up but that did not excuse Gibbs.
It is remarkable to think that Barkley turned 20 only last Thursday. The midfielder has been given great responsibility by Martínez as the team's No10 and his maturity from the first whistle was eye-catching. Popping up between the lines, he drove at the Arsenal back-line and, when Gary Lineker tweeted that Barkley had "a bit of Gazza about him", nobody was arguing. There were plenty of lovely moments from him, including the turn that, in the blink of an eye, took Santi Cazorla and Özil out of the game. There was zip and urgency to his passing and explosiveness to his acceleration. His touch was cloaked in velvet. The flick for Steven Pienaar early in the second half almost led to the breakthrough and later his rasping shot forced Wojciech Szczesny into a fine save. The watching England manager, Roy Hodgson, cannot fail to have been impressed from his seat in the stands.
There was a time, not long ago, when the sight of an imposing centre-forward would have induced wobbles in the Arsenal defence. Didier Drogba, in particular, delighted in bullying the club's centre-halves. Things are different these days. The development of Per Mertesacker's partnership with Laurent Koscielny has brought assurance and Romelu Lukaku, Everton's battering ram of a No9, got no change out of them over 90 minutes. Mertesacker set the tone with a muscular challenge on him in the opening exchanges and, having dominated against Nemanja Vidic and United last Wednesday, Lukaku was largely peripheral. Arsenal's central defensive steel was the biggest positive, although Szczesny and Olivier Giroud also emerged with credit.
Gareth Barry has been pilloried for one lapse in one international match and he was reunited with his tormentor here. The manner in which he allowed Özil to outstrip him for Germany, during England's World Cup last 16 defeat in South Africa, has been seared on to the collective conscience. It is unfair to remember Barry's England career for that and the manner in which he has found new life at Everton this season, on loan from Manchester City, has been impressive. The holding midfielder seemed determined to leave his mark on Özil, clattering him twice in the first half, and he was booked on the second occasion. Barry read the game well, offering protection against Arsenal's counters, while he was central to much of Everton's possession. He is still to taste Premier League defeat in Everton's colours, having been ineligible for the one game that they lost to City.