The best thing about yesterday’s Champions League draw was it’s timing. Because the fact that we have a game on this evening, means that we can spend as little time talking about it as possible, which is a-ok for me.
We got Bayern. We always get Bayern. The Champions League draw is boring. The end.
So, on to tonight’s game, which I am rather quite nervous about. Forget the whole ‘Everton haven’t won in ten’ rubbish. It might mean that they are more cautious and compact, as Koeman has already talked about, but I think we’ll see an Everton side that will be much better than the one we smashed at Goodison last season. That was during the final days of Martinez’s reign and the Spaniard is a manager who does deliver the sort of football that plays in to Arsenal’s hands. But Koeman is a different animal. He knows how to set up his teams against Arsène Wenger sides and last season at home to Southampton was a prime example. Sure, he relied on Fraser Forster having the game of his life, but the way they set up defensively as a unit still had us unable to fashion loads of chances. That might be the case tonight.
We’ve got Mustafi out for the next three weeks, which is a blow, but the return of Bellerin is timely and he’ll slot in at right back with Gabriel moving in to the centre I suspect. Koscielny will most certainly be the other central defender, but who Arsène chooses at left back will be interesting. We’re at a time of the year in which rotation becomes very prominent across the whole team, and where he’s had the chance, Arsène has always looked to give Gibbs a run out. So I wonder if he might start today, with Nacho getting the nod on Sunday. If he does, then I don’t see that as too much of a problem; Gibbs has played well when given the opportunity this season and I have been one who has suggested that he should probably be moving ahead of Nacho in the pecking order. So seeing him tonight would be good.
The base of the midfield must continue to have Xhaka in it and after Coquelin’s impressive performance against West Ham and The Orcs, he should probably get the nod too, because Everton will probably look to exert a bit of physicality in that midfield area and so having the Frenchman in there can only be a good thing.
The front four will of course have Özil, Alexis and most probably Theo, but Arsène must be thinking about a recall for Iwobi. He’s scored in his last two substitute appearances and let’s not forget that it was the Everton game away last season that really announced him on the big stage. He was great that day and if he is confident after scoring two goals in two games, he might just remember his good form last season too, as a motivator.
Of course, Arsène does have the Ox as an option, who he talked up yesterday in his pre match presser. Ox is a confidence player and right now the winds are with him, so taking him out may not be something that Arsène is considering. Still, I’m sure he’s much happier having two players who might have a bit more confidence to choose from, than none.
These next two games are so vitally important. If we were to pick up four points, for example, it would put us in an amazing position. Chelski just keep on winning games and they’ve got two bankers in Sunderland and Crystal Palace, so we can’t afford to have them disappearing off in to the distance already. We need to keep our form going and that starts by seeing if we can do the business tonight. It won’t be easy, we’ll probably concede, but we have players in our team who are brimming with confidence. I’d hope they can bring that confidence to Goodison tonight.
The danger men for Everton will be Lukaku, but I also think that Barkley, Baines and Coleman will cause us problems. They have two good fullbacks who are very good at getting in to dangerous side positions, so if we’re going to keep Lukaku quiet, those two need to be stopped too.
Let’s hope the business is done by 10pm tonight.
Come on you gunners.
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