Goodison Park, Liverpool
August 23, 2014; 17:30 BST
Arsenal FC travel to Goodison Park to face Everton today and the Gunners will be keen to avenge the 3-0 drubbing they received last time around.
Everton dropped points against Leicester City on the road in their opening encounter as Chris Wood scored a late equalizer for the home side. Despite the draw, Martinez was pleased with his side’s performance but understands that their first real test will arrive tonight when they take on Arsenal.
The Gunners are coming into this game on the back of a 0-0 draw in Turkey in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. But Arsene Wenger’s men did start their Premier League campaign with a win over Crystal Palace as Aaron Ramsey scored a late winner. Arsene Wenger will hope that the return of Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker will help them produce a more convincing performance in this game.
Team news and tactics
Roberto Martinez will still be without Ross Barkley, Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo for this game. Barkley, who picked up a knee injury in training, last week, will be out for a long time. The good news for Everton is the possible return of Seamus Coleman to the starting line-up after he recovered from his hamstring injury and came on as a substitute in the second half against Leicester City.
Darron Gibson, who was side-lined for 10 months due to anterior cruciate ligament damage, is also close to returning to action and could feature on the bench in this game. Belgium international Kevin Mirallas also featured from the bench against Leicester, but there are still doubts about his match fitness.
Roberto Martinez will use his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with James McCarthy and Gareth Barry in the pivot. There is likely to be only one change to the starting line-up that Martinez used in their opening fixture. Coleman will replace John Stones as the right back with the youngster dropping down to the bench.
Martinez used Romelu Lukaku on the right in their last encounter against Arsenal and the Belgium striker produced a wonderful performance on that day. But he is unlikely to use similar tactics in this game as Lukaku looked a bit rusty in his opening game. But Martinez will have to be tactically aware of the threat Arsenal possesses down the right wing with Alexis Sanchez forming a wonderful partnership with Mathieu Debuchy down that side of the pitch. Steven Pienaar will have help out Leighton Baines defensively in tracking the runs of the former Newcastle United right back.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Howard (GK); Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; McGeady, Naismith, Pienaar; Lukaku
It is only the second week of the season and Arsenal already have a long list of absentees. Left back Kieran Gibbs picked up a hamstring injury against Crystal Palace in their opening game and could be out for a while. New Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was the latest addition to the injury list when the Spaniard had to be substituted in the second half in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas.
New signing David Ospina is still struggling with his thigh injury and is likely to return to the squad next month, while Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Ryo Miyaichi continue their spell on the side-lines. Yaya Sanogo, who missed the trip to Turkey due to a hamstring problem, seems to have recovered from the knock but is unlikely to start in this match.
Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are yet to appear for the Gunners this season as Arsene Wenger provided them with extended vacation after their World Cup triumph with Germany. They are likely to be part of the squad that faces Everton today, but Wenger has insisted that he will be cautious about bringing them in immediately.
Podolski is unlikely to feature with reports suggesting that the German international is about to leave the Emirates in this transfer window. But Ozil and Mertesacker are likely to feature in the starting line-up.
Arsene Wenger has almost switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation this season as he has played three central midfielders so far. He is likely to make three changes to the starting line-up that he used against Besiktas. Santi Cazorla will be replaced by Mesut Ozil in attack, while Mathieu Flamini replaces the injured Arteta. Laurent Koscielny is likely to be rested in this game as he has been struggling a bit with his Achilles problem and the Frenchman will be replaced by Per Mertesacker at the center of the defence.
Expected starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Szczesny (GK); Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal; Flamini; Sanchez, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil; Giroud
- Everton’s victory against Arsenal in April ended a run of 13 without one against the Gunners in the Barclays Premier League.
- Arsenal are the only away team to score six goals in a Premier League game at Goodison Park (in August 2009).
- Arsenal have now gone four games without a win against Everton, their worst such run in the Premier League.
- Last season Everton opened the season with two draws; they drew their opener last week at Leicester.
- Arsenal won more away games than any other Premier League team in 2013-14 (11), yet ended the season with a goal difference of only +2 on the road.
Player to watch-out for
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The German international is returning after a long break and will be full of confidence after lifting the World Cup in Brazil with his national team. After a year of settling down in English football, the Arsenal fans will have huge expectations from the former Real Madrid star this season and will be licking their lips at the prospect of him linking up with new signing Alexis Sanchez.
Everton 1-2 Arsenal
Expect the home side to start brightly and even take a lead in this game, but Arsenal will come back into the match strongly and their superior quality will prove to be difference in the end. Arsene Wenger’s men will win this game narrowly, by a goal.
Blast from the past