By STEVE DOUGLAS
2014-08-24 03:01 AM
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) -- Arsenal scored twice in the final seven minutes to grab a 2-2 draw at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday and avoid another demoralizing defeat on Merseyside.
Olivier Giroud headed in the equalizer with 30 seconds left of normal time at Goodison Park, after Aaron Ramsey tapped in a close-range finish to give Arsenal hope in the 83rd.
Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith scored in the first half to hand Everton a deserved lead and threaten a repeat of the corresponding fixture last season, when Arsenal was blown away in a 3-0 loss. Arsenal also lost 5-1 at Liverpool just across Stanley Park.
Giroud's introduction as a halftime substitute invigorated Arsenal, with Everton's American goalkeeper Tim Howard only called into action once before Ramsey's goal.
Arsene Wenger's side has four points from its first two games. Everton has opened with two draws.
Since the defeat at Everton in April, Arsenal hadn't lost in eight competitive games -- and had won six straight league matches -- but its return to Goodison Park proved just as uncomfortable early on.
Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker made their first starts of the season after being given an extended lay-off after winning the World Cup with Germany last month, but they looked way off the pace.
Ozil, played out of position on the left wing, lost Coleman for the opening goal, with the right back meeting Gareth Barry's floated cross with a powerful header into the top corner past Wojciech Szczesny. Coleman was the highest-scoring defender in the Premier League last season with six goals.
Arsenal's defense was exposed minutes later but Kevin Mirallas slid a finish wide when one-on-one with Szczesny, and even worse defending contributed to Naismith's goal on the stroke of halftime.
Romelu Lukaku shrugged off Mertesacker in Everton's half, cruised past a weak challenge by Calum Chambers and sent the ball through for Naismith, who slipped his shot under Szczesny's legs. Replays showed Naismith was offside when the pass was played.
The ineffective Alexis Sanchez, who started as a lone striker, was replaced at halftime by Giroud and the France international gave Arsenal some presence up front.
Giroud volleyed over from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross and drove a low shot wide in the 67th minute as Everton sat back, happy to protect its lead. Howard then parried away Giroud's stabbed effort in the 68th, Arsenal's first shot on target.
But Ramsey got on the end of Cazorla's cross to reduce the deficit with his second goal of the season and Giroud outmuscled Sylvain Distin for the equalizer.