Without a trophy for almost a decade now, Arsenal face Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as they look to break their duck and win their first piece of silverware in recent years. Both teams are expected to field a strong side and the ensuing fixture will be an interesting spectacle.
Here’s a quick look at the top battles that will enthral the audience on Saturday.
1. Lukaku vs Per Mertesacker
The Belgian striker has been on a brilliant run for Everton this season and will be playing a crucial role in tomorrow’s decisive fixture. The 20 year old striker has scored 10 goals in 22 league appearances so far this season and will be called upon to help Everton qualify for the semi-finals. The bulky Belgian striker has been a menace for most teams this season and his physical prowess combined with his technical finishing has made him one of the most promising talents in England. The striker missed out on a few matches due to an injury but has since then made a complete recovery. He scored the crucial goal against West Ham to help Everton earn three valuable points in their last Premier League fixture.
It will be Per Mertesacker who will be tasked with the job of keeping the striker at bay. This clash of giants will be an entertaining spectacle on the pitch and both the players will be looking to outsmart the other. The German defender has been decisive for Arsenal this season and his partnership with Koscielny has been extremely important for Arsenal and the duo have proven themselves up to the task this season. It will be interesting to see how the German giant manages to cope up with the presence of a striker like Lukaku. Not the quickest of defenders, Mertesacker will have to read the game well to prevent Lukaku from running away with the ball.
2. Mesut Ozil vs Gareth Barry
Mesut Ozil has come under immense pressure after failing to deliver for Arsenal in the past couple of months. Having missed the crucial penalty against Bayern Munich, the German attacking midfielder has looked out of place and is riding very low on confidence. His position in the national team has also come under scrutiny and hence Ozil will be looking to bounce back to his usual self and perform against Everton.
However the German midfielder will come up against Gareth Barry who has been phenomenal for Everton this season. A defensive midfielder, Barry has a shrewd understanding of the game and will be held responsible to prevent Ozil from feeding his strikers. He is highly valued by Martinez and is considered a game-changer. The match could well be decided by the player who wins this personal duel. If Barry can keep Ozil quiet for 90 mins, the chances of Arsenal scoring will be greatly reduced. Meanwhile If Ozil can slip past his marker and provide his usual magical passes, Arsenal are sure to find the back of the net in this crucial fixture.
3. The Battle of The Full Backs
Both Arsenal and Everton rely heavily on their full-backs to provide momentum to their game. Sagna and Gibbs have been instrumental for Arsenal this season and their ability to provide artillery along the flanks has been extremely crucial for Arsene Wenger. Similarly the pairing of Baines and Coleman for Everton has blossomed under Roberto Martinez’s keen guidance.
It is sufficient to say that whichever set of full-backs outshines the other in this crucial FA Cup fixture will be determine the fate of the match on Saturday. Baines and Coleman have been consistent for Everton this season and their ability to provide crucial assists has been a boon for Everton. Coleman has been impressive on the right flank and will looked at to deliver in this big match against Arsenal. Defensively strong, Coleman has all the qualities to develop into one of the best right-backs in Europe and will have to be closely monitored by Arsenal. Baines on the other hand is in a league of his own and Arsenal will have to clamp down the 29 year old defender and prevent him from delivering the ball into the box.
Meanwhile Sagna and Gibbs will have to be on the top of their game if Arsenal are to win this fixture. While Sagna is defensively astute, Gibbs has shown his potential while going forward. However Gibbs has often left his position open and has failed to track back after an attacking move. Coupled with Cazorla’s inability to defensively help out his squad, Arsenal stand to be exposed on the left flank, something which will be duly exploited by Coleman and Kevin Mirallas.