The margin at the top is certainly slim, particularly when you talk about all the clubs trying to squeeze into that all important top four. Arsenal find themselves sitting in third, a point ahead of Chelsea and Tottenham with the former still possessing a game in hand. Arsenal’s upcoming opponents, Everton, sit in a respectable sixth and only four points shy of Arsenal.
Make no mistake, the Toffees deserve to be in the position they are currently in and will do all in their power to reduce the gap between themselves and fourth spot. Everton have efficient players all over the pitch and Arsenal will need to be particularly mindful of the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, who both have been outstanding for Everton this campaign.
Starting at the back, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Lukasz Fabianski is a major doubt for the game with Szczesny certain to retain his number one spot. The Pole has been overlooked in recent games and will find himself in the deep end against a quality Everton team. Hopefully he relishes the pressure!
In terms of other team news, Per Mertesacker is available for selection after serving his suspension for a red card. He is joined by Tomas Rosicky, who has recovered from a minor injury he picked up against Norwich. I expect to see Mertesacker back in the starting line-up to try and contain the aerial threat of Fellaini, although at the expense of either Vermaelen or Koscielny I am unsure about. I am leaning towards Rosicky retaining his role as the attacking midfielder with Wilshere shifting back into his usual box-to-box role and Cazorla being shifted out on the left.
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The Spaniard is likely to pair up with his fellow countryman Nacho Monreal, despite Gibbs starting last weekend. Meanwhile Bacary Sagna will face the massive task of trying to contain Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar on the right. Owing to Gervinho’s dreadful performance last week I think we may see Walcott back in the starting line-up. Lastly Giroud will spearhead the attack.
on the latest team news…
Mertesacker and Rosicky are back in the squad for tomorrow.
on Lukasz Fabianski…
Fabianski is a major doubt but we will decide that tomorrow [Tuesday]. He got a kick in the rib [against Norwich City].
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Arteta (c) Wilshere
- Arsene Wenger’s side have won all five of their last matches in all competitions and should they overcome Everton they will stay third.
- The Gunners have also won four out of their past five meetings with the Toffees (W4, D1, L0)
- Arsenal have scored more goals at home against Everton than any host side in any fixture in Premier League history (49).
- The host have won eight and lost just one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League matches, while Everton have picked up 13 points from the last 15 available in the top flight, but four of those games were at home. On the road they have earned two draws and two defeats in their last four away games.
- Arsenal have scored 18 goals in the final 15 minutes of Premier League games this season; more than any other team including the 3 winning goals against Norwich at the weekend.
- Everton have netted 15 goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half of Premier League games; more than any other side.
- Ten of Olivier Giroud’s 11 Premier League goals have been netted at the Emirates and the other was netted away at West Ham making him the top scorer in the capital this season.
- The Gunners have conceded just 15 second half goals making them the joint-tightest defence after the break in the top flight (along with Man City).
- Everton have netted the joint-most headed goals in the top flight (13) along with Norwich (who netted their 13th against the Gunners last Saturday) and Manchester United.
- The Toffees have conceded the highest number (14) and percentage of headed goals in the Premier League this season (38%).
- Arsenal have kept just three clean sheets in their last 15 Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium.
- Only Southampton (16) have dropped more points from winning positions away from home than Everton this season (14).
Arsenal 2 Everton 1