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Arsenal v Everton; Premier League Match Preview
Better late than never eh?
Well, Arsenal are set this afternoon to try and gain some traction in their Premier League endeavors as they travel to Goodison Park to take on David Moyes’ Everton squad.
Everton and Arsenal are looking to get up in closer on the top 4. The winner gets a firm grasp on 5th place and hopes of catching some momentum. And to be honest neither club has been red hot either Especially since, both clubs started off so well. Everton, won 5 of their first 6 but have now have only won 1 in their last 7.
Arsenal’s struggles are well known. After a start that had a lot of us cautiously hoping that things MAY be different, this Arsenal squad have reverted back to pattern but with more alarming reasons for concern.
Arsenal look to go into a place where they’ve had some success. In the last 10 matches at Goodison Park Arsenal are an astounding 8W 2D and 0L and over the course of history with these two clubs the North London side hold the better of it. But things aren’t well.
While statistics show there is defensive improvement, performance shows a different picture. Arsenal remain solid in the 2nd half of games only being outscored in one league game and in the last 15 minutes of games Arsenal are the only team in the league not to concede a goal throughout the entire season. Add to their impressive road defensive ability – allowing opposition to score on an average of 0.7 goals per game. Looking at all those combined you’d be ecstatic for any side, especially Arsenal.
Still the statistics ignore the individual mindless errors that are causing Arsenal to either fall behind early or allow opponents to get into a match. They overlook that offensively on the road Arsenal are only managing to score an average of 1 goal per game. Yes, defensively there are improvements, but offensively there are issues.
I like the fact that the scoring is more balanced as the squad now has 3 players with 4 goals in league play. Last season no one ever got a sniff of being close to Robin Van Persie’s tally. But the side shows its inability or naiveté at times when the likes of Theo Walcott isn’t available. Or if Mikel Arteta gets constant pressure not allowing him to get the ball from deep and bring it forward.
When just those two things happen – either collectively or individually, Arsenal have struggled. There are other issues and while Arsene Wenger has forgotten more about football than I will ever know, his inability or stubbornness to offer in game changes that can overcome match time difficulties, leaves us all scratching our heads. (Some bang them).
No one is escaping the blame for the problems. But they need to get it together. Bone-headed defensive errors against the likes of Fellaini and Jelavic will cost Arsenal like they have against other opponents. The defenders need to be confident and committed in their roles. It won’t hurt that the entire back 5 is back – Szczesny will inspire more confidence in his defenders and having Gibbs back will certainly strengthen the line.
The squad is returning to fitness. Theo Walcott is likely to be back after suffering from his shoulder knock. Thomas Rosicky is back in full training and should be available for match play soon. Good news for those who think Cazorla needs a breather (like me). The long-term absentees then remain only Diaby, Fabianski, and Santos. Not much missed to be sure.
Arsenal need something. And while a point away to a very good Everton side would normally be welcome, the poor run of form (odd to say that coming off of a clean sheet) means that supporters are clamoring for a win. Hope is needed and is needed from anywhere. Today hopefully is where it can start.
How the match should play out:
Everton pose a threat up front with Jelavic leading the way and Fellaini just behind him. Fellaini has absolutely flourished in this new role and has 6 goals to show for it. The right side of Arsenal’s defense is going to need to be solid as Everton will look to bring the ball forward from Pienaar and Leighton Baines. They will latch up with Fellaini who holds up play to bring the others back in. This style of play has given Everton the most chances than any team in the Premier League. However where Arsenal can exploit Everton is in the back. Michael Cox of Zonal Marking points to Olivier Giroud’s ability to find space through “clever movement out wide, in combination with purposeful midfield runs.” This should help Arsenal ply pressure on the centre backs who may from time to time drift out wide to cover for the fullbacks who have gone forward. Giroud combining with Walcott will be a deadly combination in this game if they are given the space to operate. That’s how Arsenal will look to play and with it win the game narrowly.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Theo Walcott. Simple, while Arsenal had the better of the game against Aston Villa the absence of Theo Walcott was noticeable by what he now brings to the game. He’s back and like has been all season will be influential again.
Everton. Maourane Fellaini. Looks like the big Belgian with a fro is on everybody’s wish list this January. He has been impressive all season long and his strength, aerial ability and movement make him Everton’s standout player.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Diaby (thigh), Fabianski (back), Rosicky (hamstring), Santos (Stomach muscle)
Everton: Neville (knee) Hibbert (knee) Gibson (match fitness), Anichebe (hamstring), Mirallas (hamstring).
Arsenal: Giroud 4, Podolski 4, Cazorla 4
Everton: Fellaini 6
Arsenal: Walcott 4
Everton: Fellaini 3, Pienaar 3
Last Meeting (EPL):
Arsenal (away): 1.0
Everton (for): 1.8
Arsenal (away): 0.7
Everton: (home): 1.2
Referee: Michael Oliver. Matches: 8. R1 Y15.
US: FoxSoccer.TV 2:45 PM EST
UK: ????? 19.45 BST