The game against Monaco is behind us. It happened and now we have to move on. There were a lot of lessons to take from that game that our players should memorize but there is no time for crying over spilled milk.
We play against Everton in the league at home and that hasn’t been the easiest fixture for us lately. We haven’t beaten Everton in the league on the last five occasions and both matches at the Emirates during that unpleasant sequence ended as a draw. In 2012-13, Arsenal and Everton played a rather boring match at the Emirates. Our midfield couldn’t cope with the physical presence of Marouane Fellaini and Olivier Giroud had a night to forget in front of the opponents’ goal. The game ended 0:0. In 2013-14, we were second best in the first half but looked more assured in the last half an hour. Mesut Özil gave us a lead ten minutes before the end but a quick reply from the substitute Gerard Deulofeu ripped victory away. Olivier Giroud’s thunderbolt almost gave us all three points in the last seconds of the match but it hit the crossbar and the match ended 1:1.
There was a match at the Emirates against Everton in 2014 that we won however. Our victory in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup meant we were on our way to Wembley. Mesut Özil gave us an early lead before Romelu Lukaku equalized. In what was one of the best performances of the season our boys completely brushed The Toffees aside in the second half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earned a penalty which was converted by Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard had to take the same penalty again but it didn’t prevent him from scoring against his former club. Olivier Giroud came in for Yaya Sanogo and scored a brace to put the game in bed.
The Frenchman was a super-sub in the reverse fixture this season as well as his late equalizer gave us a point after we had a two-goal-deficit. Unfortunately, he got injured soon after he scored and was on the sidelines for three and a half months.
Roberto Martinez has endured ‘second season syndrome’ with Everton, who are now much closer to the relegation battle than to a place in a European competition. Romelu Lukaku hasn’t reached the level of his performances from last season, Ross Barkley has gone through multiple injury problems, the once impenetrable defence led by Tim Howard has been the worst in the league in terms of errors and Kevin Mirallas, a pri*k and a talented player, has been more of the former than the latter this term.
Also, Seamus Coleman hasn’t been in superb goal-scoring form like last season and the new signing Muhamed Bešić has shown both positive and negative aspects of his game. They are still alive in Europe though and they still can reach a Champions’ League place by winning the Europa League.
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When it comes to our team, there will be some changes to the team from THAT game which we won’t mention in this article.
Wojciech Szczesny has a big chance to replace David Ospina between the sticks. The Colombian has been over-criticized lately but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hand another chance to the Pole.
Hector Bellerin should take his place on the right side of the defence. The Spaniard will have to take special care of Leighton Baines’ overlaps however.
Nacho Monreal should return to the starting line-up as he has been one of the most reliable defenders, if not the most reliable, in our team. He hasn’t enjoyed nice memories against Everton, especially against Romelu Lukaku as the Spaniard couldn’t handle the powerful Belgian striker in either of the two matches at Goodison Park in 2014.
Now, the biggest change might be the one in the middle of our defence. Gabriel De Abreu might be the one that will have a difficult job to tame Romelu Lukaku. I still have my doubts about the Gabriel-Koscielny combination but it’s the quickest one we can field. In that case, Per Mertesacker would be dropped to the bench.
Francis Coquelin will more than likely start in the middle but it remains unknown who will join him. Will one of the two magical playmakers (Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla) be dropped to the bench in favour of the third magician Tomas Rosicky?
Either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott might get the nod in front of Danny Welbeck on the right wing while Alexis Sánchez will try to end his goal-drought from the left. Now, who is going to start in the central attacking role? Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck? Our set-up with Gabriel has much more pace than with Mertesacker and looks more appropriate for a higher defensive line in which Alexis and Welbeck play a high-pressing game on the opponents. Now, with a defence so prone to mistakes, Everton might suffer a lot to Alexis and Welbeck’s pressure.
Nobody can predict a result for tomorrow’s game but I’d go with a 3:1 victory. Alexis will open the scoring, Özil will score his third goal in his third appearance against Everton at the Emirates before Walcott puts the game to bed. Steven Naismith will score a consolation goal for the visitors. A victory would see us return to third place and widen the gap between us and Southampton to five points.
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 23 Aug 2014 Everton 2 – Arsenal FC 2
Premier League (EPL) 06 Apr 2014 Everton 3 – Arsenal FC 0
FA Cup (FAC) 08 Mar 2014 Arsenal FC 4 – Everton 1
Premier League (EPL) 08 Dec 2013 Arsenal FC 1 – Everton 1
Premier League (EPL) 16 Apr 2013 Arsenal FC 0 – Everton 0
Bellerin Gabriel Koscielny Monreal
Coquelin Cazorla (c)
Walcott Özil Alexis
Arsenal 3 v 0 Everton