Last season’s matches against Everton were eventful contests.
We blew the Blues away 6-1 on opening day at Goodison Park but they gave us a much better game in the early-January snow, almost stealing the points before Tomas Rosicky’s late equaliser snatched a 2-2 draw.
A quick glance at the league table shows them lagging in 12th on the table, yet a quick glance at their team sheet tells another story. Packed with quality players like Mikael Arteta, Tim Cahill and Steven Pienaar, Everton have the quality to give any team in the league problems, particularly on their home ground.
It has to be said that personnel-wise we go into tomorrow’s game in good shape.
Arsene Wenger has indicated that no new injuries were picked up during mid-week action, while Kieran Gibbs returns. It is doubtful that the Englishman will go straight into the starting team but with Gael Clichy struggling for his best form, competition in that position is most welcome.
The manager also suggested there will be some slight shuffles in the team, as expected, with one or two changes in the midfield. If I had to hazard a guess at the team it would be something like below.
Fabianski; Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Fabregas, Wilshere; Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin.
In saying that it would not be a surprise to see either of Denilson or Theo Walcott get a spot in the starting team for Song or Arshavin respectively.
Despite the fighting victory at Wolves the simple fact of the matter is that we are not in good form at the moment. Losses against Newcastle and Shakhtar Donetsk have been surrounded by two nervy victories over West Ham and Wolves and despite having plenty of quality and depth in the squad, things feel quite difficult at the moment.
The silver lining is that our defence has been impressive: one goal conceded in the past four league games is an impressive record. There have been some rocky moments but generally Djourou and Squillaci have done well when paired together and despite his error at Newcastle, Fabianski has been excellent.
Everton away is the sort of fixture that demands a certain level of effort and intensity. Our players must be up for it or they risk being run over in midfield by Arteta, Pienaar and Co.
With Chelsea and Manchester United both facing difficult away fixtures this could be a weekend of real opportunity. At the end of last week there were feelings of desperation around the place but just a week later, we could be within striking distance at the top.
An interesting weekend of football awaits.
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