The Emirates Stadium, North London
19:45 GMT, 16th April 2013
Arsenal FC host Everton FC at the Emirates stadium in the midweek clash of the English Premier League this Tuesday. The last time Everton travelled to Arsenal’s home, Robin van Persie scored the only goal of the match in the 70th minute.
Arsenal are one of the most in-form sides in the league currently. The Gunners are on a run of five straight wins, in all competitions. They have won eight out of their last 10 Premier League matches (with just one loss against Tottenham during that period). This fantastic run of results has seen them climb above Chelsea (who have a game in hand) and Tottenham and they currently are third in the league for the first time since September.
But Arsenal were a bit lucky to grab all three points against Norwich as few refereeing decisions went their way. Despite dominating possession, Arsenal lacked the cutting edge for most part of the match and eventually went behind to Michael Turner’s goal in the second half. But Arsenal scored three goals in a space of seven minutes and ensured an important win.
Everton, like Arsenal, have been on a good run of form recently as well. The Toffees have lost just once in their last seven matches (in all competitions) and have managed to win five of them. Their last defeat in the Premier League came against Norwich in the month of February. This has helped them maintain their lead over arch rivals Liverpool in the league table and they are now just three points behind Tottenham and Chelsea. David Moyes has insisted that his team will push for a top four finish till the end, but Everton have a tough fixture list ahead of them. They face the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in their remaining six matches.
Everton come into this match on the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory over QPR at home. But David Moyes will be a bit worried about the team’s away form in recent times. The Merseyside club has won just once in their last six away matches in all competitions and their last away victory in the league came way back in January, when they defeated Newcastle United at St James’ Park. They will need to improve their record on the road if they want to maintain any hope of qualifying for the Champions League.
Surprisingly, and perhaps even shockingly, Arsenal don’t have too many injury concerns at this moment. Rosicky, who missed out Arsenal’s last match due to a slight hamstring problem, is fit and available for selection once again. Which means Abou Diaby remains the only major injury concern at the moment. Both Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere returned to first team action against Norwich on Saturday. This nearly empty injury list comes as a huge boost for Wenger at such a crucial juncture of the season.
Arsene Wenger’s team selection will be interesting considering the fact that this will be their second match in four days. Arsenal’s midfield and attack struggled to break down Norwich for most part of the match this weekend. Jack Wilshere wasn’t his usual self, which is perhaps understandable considering the fact that he is returning from an injury. With Rosicky available, Wenger might decide to start Wilshere from the bench in this match. Monreal, who dropped to the bench for the match against Norwich, should be back into the staring line-up once again.
Theo Walcott, who had a good impact since coming on as a sub against Norwich, is likely to replace Gervinho. Podolski, who scored in the last match, will be pushing for a starting berth as well. It would be interesting to see if Wenger decides to play Cazorla through the center, in place of Wilshere and starts Podolski down the left, or will he go for a straight swap between Rosicky and Wilshere, who has been in good form. Per Mertesacker is sure to return to the starting line-up after serving out his suspension and will replace Thomas Vermaelen.
Arsenal will be up against a very physical Everton side and Mertesacker will be crucial to handle someone like Fellaini in the box. Because it is given that the big Belgian will win most of the balls in the air, it is crucial for Arsenal to get to win the second ball while defending. Pienaar and Mirallas are in good form as well, hence Sagna and Monreal will have to be careful about being leaving too much space behind for the duo to exploit.
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Ramsey; Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud
David Moyes, like Arsene Wenger, doesn’t have any major injury concern at the moment. Tony Hibbert has returned to the reserve team, but it will still take some time before we see him back in action for the first team. Fellaini and Pienaar returned to action against QPR after missing out two matches due to suspension.
Fellaini and Pienaar’s absence meant that David Moyes had to change his tactics. Everton has been playing with three center backs, in a 3-5-2 formation, prior to the match against QPR. But Heitinga dropped back to the bench as David Moyes shifted back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Interestingly Everton looked good while playing three center-backs, but it is difficult to involve both Fellaini and Pienaar in that formation.
Baines will be critical once again for Everton as he will not only need to deal with Theo Walcott, but he also needs to make sure that he isn’t too defensive and joins the attack when possible. The left-back has been Everton’s most creative source in attack as well, in fact statistically, he has created more opportunities from open play than any other outfield player in whole of Europe. Gibson and Osman will also need to keep a close eye on Cazorla, who will drift in-field along with Rosicky.
Everton will press hard in this match and will look to deny Arsenal midfielders any time and space on the ball. Fellaini, other than his attacking threat, is quite good defensively as well and he will look to hassle Mikel Arteta whenever the Spaniard is on the ball, to stop him from dictating the game.
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-5-1): Howard (GK); Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Gibson, Osman; Mirallas, Fellaini, Pienaar; Anichebe.
- The Gunners have more wins (26) and scored more goals (82) against Everton than they have against any other side in Premier League era.
- Everton are unbeaten in their four visits to London this season (W1, D3). But they haven’t kept a clean sheet in 13 trips to the capital since a 0-0 draw at Fulham in September 2010.
- This is Everton’s third consecutive match against London opposition, following games at Tottenham and at home to QPR. They still have to face Fulham, West Ham and Chelsea in their final five matches.
- Arsenal have lost only one of their 20 Premier League home matches against Everton (W16, D3, L1). The Merseyside club’s only win at Arsenal in that period was when they came from behind for a 2-1 victory in January 1996.
Player To Watch Out For
Leighton Baines (Everton)
For many, he is the best left-back in the Premier League, and should be ahead of Ashley Cole in the national side based on current form – and stats back those claims as well. He has been Everton’s most influential player for the past two seasons. He is defensively solid and his offensive stats are amazing for a full-back. As stated above he has created more opportunities from open play than any other outfield player in the top five leagues in Europe.
He has made an average of 3.2 key passes per game this season (a total of 102) and has attempted 292 crosses in the league so far! To add to that, he is brilliant from free-kicks and has already scored five goals in addition to his five assists. Arsenal will need to contain him in this match.
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
It will be a very close match. Everton’s attack has everything that can unsettle Arsenal’s defense – height, power and pace. On the other hand, Arsenal have been in brilliant form lately and will go into this match full of confidence. It will be an action packed affair and Arsenal should win this, just about, due to their home advantage.