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Right Back Where We Started: Arsenal v Everton, Match Preview

When these two teams last met, it was match day 1 of the 2009/2010 season. Now at the start of the second half of the season, Arsenal and Everton meet again with both teams at opposite ends of the the table. Based on recent form Everton haved moved away from relegation danger and are squarley in the middle of the table while Arsenal are providing upward pressure on the league leading Chelsea.

Can recent history repeat itself

Can recent history repeat itself

When these two teams last met, it was match day 1 of the 2009/2010 season. Now at the start of the second half of the season, Arsenal and Everton meet again with both teams at opposite ends of the the table. Based on recent form Everton haved moved away from relegation danger and are squarley in the middle of the table while Arsenal are providing upward pressure on the league leading Chelsea.

Everton are hoping to continue their current form, unbeaten in their last 5 matches and collecting 7 points. They come to the Emirates having beaten Carlisle in the FA Cup and are looking to exact an amount of revenge on the Gunners. In order to do that though, David Moyes’ side will need to overcome their own injury problems.  Everton currently have 9 players sitting out, one of which is Louis Saha. He is a match time decision and could either start at striker or sit out completely.  Either way the merserysiders will need all the help they can muster to take on the in form Arsenal side.

We don’t need to rehash where the squad were a month ago. We all know and felt deeply wounded by the 3-0 loss against Chelsea. But here we are a month and half later only 4 points off the lead. Had we managed to play and beat Bolton in the midweek makeup match Arsenal could be looking at a chance of going ahead (since Chelsea’s match against Hull has been cancelled). And while Arsene is bemoaning the back log of games to come, the side cannot lose its forward momentum.

In order to keep their pressure on United and Chelsea, Arsenal need to take over where they left off against Everton. At the start of the season, Arsenal emphatically stated their intent by drubbing the blues 6-1. Louis’ Saha’s loan goal came when the match was all but over in the 90th minute. The match was a display of the fire power Arsenal had and featured a debutant goal by lynchpin Thomas Vermaelen. When signed he was noted as being “whodat?” but now all Gooners know who is and is part of the current Arsenal resurgence.

Since that match in August, Arsenal have gone on an impressive run. Yes, they have had their stumbles but overall they are lately the more consistent of the contending clubs. Additionally, they really look like the only top club right now who can string together wins of 8 or more. The other sides all have issues that could prevent them from doing it. And if Arsenal are able to maintain a model of consistency they have a better than average chance of nipping the trophy and breaking the duopoly established by Chelsea and Manchester United over the last 5 years

The team still leads the league in scoring, even with a large portion of its attack resting their heels int he trainers room. At home they have only lost one time and have to draw. Their last 3 home mathches have been cleansheets and they continue to score on average 3 goals per match. Even with the injuries there hasn’t been a let up in the club’s overall efficiency. And while the injuries may lead people to moan about the squad’s injuries no other squad has done as well this season with so many gone. Arsenal have managed to continue their scoring pace, they’ve been the more consistent team out of the conenders of late and should the weather permit, they have a favorable run of matches leading into the end of January – where they the once again play the likes of United, Chelsea and Pool.

Of course injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations leave the team a little threadbare and you wonder how long this success can continue. Alex Song and Emmanuel Eboue are away on ACoN duty. Song’s absence could be the hardest felt. Simply put the 22 midfielder has quietly gone about his duty and been a solid and steadfast member of the swuad. He has played the holding midfielder role with all the professionalism and skill of some of the more seasoned players in the league. The kind of consistency he has given the team will be hard to replace but either Denilson or Diaby will be deputized to do so.

Diaby in the meantime has steadily improved from  game to game. He is a scoring threat and when he is allowed to play an up and down game he is a threat to push defences back onto their heels. He is constantly improving his play and is showing some keen skill in retaining the ball and passing it to his on feild partners. Additionally it looks like his teammates are growing in confidence to bring him into the game whereas in the past that would’ve been unlikely. Diaby is one of a few players that will need to step up big in order for Arsenal’s run to continue.

Still, the squad is beset with injuries, Cesc Fabregas, and Walcott are still out and won’t return. Depending on which tabloid you believe, Nicholas Bendtner is either two weeks from returning or in need of more surgery. Gael Clichy is supposedly back for training with the possibility of featuring in next week’s matches.

Today’s match is a big “if” as of right now. Like the Bolton fixture and many of the fixtures around the league, it is being threatened by the continuing snow that is gripping Britain.  Arseneal will hope to keep this match scheduled as they want to keep their momementum up. Considering the Chelsea match has already been cancelled it is quite possible that this game if played will become the defacto “Game in hand” that Bolton was supposed to be.

Finally, Arsenal want to play because their form since the Chelsea loss has been amazing. With 7 game played since then they have 6 wins and 1 draw. They’ve managed to tighten things up further and they been able to keep a few clean sheets. Players are starting to get rolling again, most notable Eduardo, who has 3 goals in his last four matches and coming intot his match they are playing a team whom when they play at home they completely own – Arsenal are an astounding 12 W 1D in their last 13 matches against Everton at the Emirates and Highbury.

How the Match Should Play Out:
If it’s played out, I find it hard to see Everton muster the necesssary skill to beat Arsenal. While the Blues have been on a good run of form late, they still lake a solid defence and only TIm Howard has managed to make it look respectable, David Moyes knows Arsenal can carve that defence up. Additionally, Everton have too many major contributors out or questionable for this fixture. They had a lot of those players available when they last played. To have them come to the Emirates without those players places a lot of pressure on the squad. Arsenal for their part will look to take Everton out of the game early. As always, expect them to won possession and try and find a way to open up the game. Trarore and Sagna have been doing a yeoman’s job down the wing and will be essential to bringing the ball deep into the Everton side of th pitch. Look for the usual creative play and a solid match that will result in Arsenal’s closing down the gap further on Chelsea.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey. Because he was the player to watch at Bolton and since we didn’t play that match he is again. Yeah I know its an easy way out but all the reasons still hold true – he is coming on of late, he is doing a stand up job filling in for Fabregas and when he has the ball the around the net you know he is likely to score most of the time.

Everton:  Landon Donovon. It really should be Louis Saha (if he plays) but the American forward makes his EPL and Everton debut and is likely to feature onthe bench. I am going to take particular interest in watching him play as I do whenever a known American player plays against my favourite team. If Landon can have a good match against Arsenal – immediately it has imapct for Everton but for the USMNT it could mean more.

Probable Starting XI’s:

No SNOW!!!

No SNOW!!!


Arsenal: Bendtner (groin), Clichy (back), Djourou (knee), Fabregas (Hamstring), Wilshere (hamstring), Gibbs (foot), Van Persie (ankle), Walcott (side), Eboue & Song (ACoN)

Everton: Anichebe (knee), Arteta (knee), Distin, (hamstring) Gosling (knee), Jagielka (knee) Rodwell ( hamstring), Jo (club suspension),  Yakubu & Yobo (ACoN)

Match Officials:

Referee: Peter Walton

Assistant Referees: Nigel Bannister & Simon Beck

Fourth Official: Andy D’Urso

Recent League Form

Arsenal: WWWDW

Everton: WDDDD

Television Schedules:

US: Setanta/Setanta-i 10:00AM

UK: (Still looking – anyone know??)

Online Feed Sources: is not responsible for the content on any of these sites.

Gameday Chat: Will Be Open

YAMA Prediction:

Arsenal: 3

Everton: 1

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