Hello again my fellow Arsenal friends. I hope this Saturday finds you well? Are you excited for today’s game? I know I am. I’m excited because Arsenal currently have their tails up and performances have been very good both defensively and offensively of late. We’ll need to have another very high level of intensity and drive for this evening’s kick off, but I fancy us to perform more like the Arsenal with swagger than the Arsenal that just expects results to come its way.
Everton will be a tough game though. They’ve had a week off to repair themselves and recuperate from the defeat to United and the tragic news of Howard Kendall and I think we’re going to see a reversal of what we saw on Tuesday night at The Emirates. I think Martinez is going to set up his Everton team to hit us on the break in the same way that we hit Bayern on the break. Our blueprint for success that night was to cede possession and not press high up the pitch, preferring to draw Bayern on to us. But we found it difficult to counter attack and if Bayern hadn’t come up against a decent ‘keeper in Cech, the narrative could have been very differently set.
This game is therefore, I think, going to be won out wide, because Everton’s central part of the pitch will be set deep and include the quartet of Stones, Jagielka, Barry and McCarthy. The latter two will shield the two centre halves and I think we’ll see them operate very close together for large parts of the match. They’ll want to make it as compact and difficult to play through as possible, which means the wings will determine the outcome of this game. Everton will most likely go with Coleman and Galloway who both like to press forward and have a bit of pace about them, but they will probably also go with Lennon and Naismith. Steven Naismith is one of those players that Everton fans will love, but I think he’s a sly little ratbag, and he’ll be a pain in the arse all evening for Bellerin and the centre halves as he drifts in field occasionally to support Lukaku.
We will need to get in behind through the wings and if Monreal, Bellerin and Alexis get some joy in behind it could stretch that quartet in the middle of the part I mention above. When Everton have the ball though, they’ll look for the pacey men to support out wide and will look to get Barkley involved as quickly as possible by getting the ball to him early and asking him to dictate the play with his tricks and passing range.
Let’s not forget Lukaku either, who will be a handful and knows where the net is at the Emirates, so Per and Kos will need to show him respect. But not enough to bully them.
As for us, I think Arsene will go with the same team as Tuesday and last Saturday, with the exception of Ramsey and I think it will be an opportunity for The Ox to stake a claim. I would be in favour of seeing an Alexis-Giroud-Walcott axis in the front three, but by the sounds of what Arsene was saying at his press conference, Theo is number one at the moment and that’s where he’ll continue to play.
Arsene admitted he is probably unlikely to rotate, so we know we’ll see a consistent team line up for today, but I do wonder how much the game in midweek will have taken it out of the team come the latter stages of the match. It’s tiring not having the ball and we had hardly any of the ball, whilst Everton will have been licking their wounds and desperate to make amends, so this will not be a comfortable evening (when is it ever with The Arsenal??). For that reason, I hope we do what we did against United and get an early goal. An early goal for us will draw Everton out and mean that our possession-based game can be more effective as they search for an equalizer. It would also give us more opportunities to pick Everton off. The longer the game goes goalless or worse for us, the more tiring I think it will feel for the players, slogging their way through a wall of blue shirts.
We have the team, we are in form and in theory you’d think we should be up enough for this game to get three points. But like I said earlier in the week, this is Arsenal and nothing is ever done easily with this team. We like to toil a lot and I suspect there’ll be plenty of toiling between 5.30 and 7.25pm this evening. I just hope we have enough about us to do the business.
Sing up for the Arsenal!