Mesut Ozil vs Gareth Barry
Mesut Ozil is likely to start in his favored No 10 role. The German owes a big performance after his dull display in the Champions League. Gareth Barry will be the man tasked to stop the German, the Everton man hasn’t hit the heights of last season and he will not have pleasant memories of facing Ozil. The German ran him ragged in the 2010 World Cup and memories of Ozil speeding past a lumbering Barry still remain fresh.
However Barry will have the support of Besic and McCarthy in thwarting the Arsenal midfielders. They may even take turns to make sure they negate the influence Ozil could have on the game. If Ozil can find some time on the ball and have players making exciting runs, it will go a long way in helping Arsenal winning the tie.
Alexis vs Seamus Coleman
Alexis is another player who is due a fantastic performance after going off the boil in the last few weeks. You can’t fault his work rate or desire but it’s just that he needs a goal to get his swagger back. Coleman is an ideal modern fullback – good going forward while suspectible at the back. He may have to check his forward surges as any space he leaves behind will be exploited by the quick Chilean. What Everton do well is they make sure the midfielders cover for the fullbacks but then again Alexis is someone you can’t keep quiet for the entire game. A goal and a performance that will force Coleman to retire out of embarrasment would be hugely welcome.
Koscielny vs Romelu Lukaku
Roberto Martinez in the last two games against Arsenal played Lukaku on the left wing and Naismith as false nine. While that provided rich dividends both of the games were at Goodison Park but away from home he may not be so open. Also Lukaku doesn’t provide enough cover for Coleman and with Alexis in the side Martinez may opt for a proper hardworking winger who puts in a shift.
Lukaku always does well against us, but then again no surprise we are the team that forced the world to believe that Kevin Davies was actually a footballer. Koscielny can match Lukaku’s pace but the Frenchman has a tendency to lose the physical battle so if we can outmuscle Lukaku Everton will find it tough to score.
Arsenal will have to win not only to appease the frustrated crowd but also to consolidate their position in the league table. Given that Liverpool play City and Spurs are in the League Cup final, we have to win to open up a sizeable gap from the chasing pack.