Romelu Lukaku is expected to be fit after fears he had injured a hamstring on Thursday against Young Boys.
Everton make the trip to North London this Sunday for a second meeting with Arsenal that is pregnant with significance on a number of levels.
A year ago today, Romelu Lukaku returned from injury to score the only goal as the Blues beat West Ham United at Goodison Park, a result that marked the beginning of a seven-match unbeaten run that took them to the brink of Champions League qualification.
Arguably the jewel in that remarkable sequence — Everton won more Premier League games between 1st March and 12th April last year than they have managed in the entire 2014-15 season so far — was a stunning 3-0 dismantling of the Gunners that briefly hinted at a possible usurping by Roberto Martinez's side of Arsenal's top-four status.
With 84 minutes on the clock and Everton 2-0 up and cruising when the two clubs last met last August, the notion that the Toffees were now legitimate peers of their old adversary from North London seemed all the more real. The late collapse that followed in that match however — the second in the space of seven days — would temper such premature thoughts and have grave consequences for Everton's season.
Martinez has credited those successive 2-2 draws and the 6-3 reverse at home to Chelsea as being the root of his team's problems this term — a crippling blow to morale from which they have struggled to fight back all season. Whether that is a legitimate argument or not, Everton come into this weekend's clash a staggering 20 points behind Arsenal and a mere
four six points above the bottom three, having slipped to 14th place after Saturday's results.
While Martinez has battled to piece together just four League wins since late September, Arsene Wenger has overseen four victories in his last five Premier League fixtures. And yet, he comes into this match under a dark cloud following Arsenal's 3-1 home defeat to Monaco in the Champions League on Wednesday that has put them on the verge of elimination from the tournament.
Everton, by contrast, have found life in Continential competition and followed up their 4-1 hammering of Young Boys in Bern with another comprehensive victory on home soil last Thursday. It was a result and performance that once more offers the potential of a springboard for the Blues' Premier League form but whether it's enough to inspire them to a first win on Arsenal's turf in 19 years remains to be seen.
As important as the result from Thursday was the news that Romelu Lukaku will be fit to play this weekend despite coming off against Young Boyes somewhat fatigued and feeling his hamstring just three minutes into the second half. The Belgian has scored five goals in his last three games and missed just as many gilt-edged chances to have doubled that tally and, as usual, will be the key to Everton's hopes at The Emirates.
His Belgian teammate, Kevin Mirallas, also found the net on Thursday, marking his first start since 7th February with a goal that capped a fine 3-1 win and the hope is that he will get the nod to start again given how well he has performed against Wenger's men in the last two games against them. Steven Naismith fits the same description and he will likely round out the forward three, with Aaron Lennon perhaps the man to make way given that Martinez will likely field James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Darron Gibson as central midfielders and sacrifice width on one side of the pitch.
At the back, John Stones (eligible again following suspension in the Europea League) and Leighton Baines (rested against Young Boys) will almost certainly come back into the starting XI if the latter is fit and Tim Howard should get the nod in goal.
Wenger, meanwhile, will be without some key figures in midfield with Jack Wilshere ruled out due to a minor ankle operation, both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini doubtful with hamstring problems and ex-Blue Mikel Arteta out injured. In the likes of Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky, however, the Gunners have plenty of other options, of course, with pace and flair in abundance that will test Everton's defensive resolve to the fullest.
In contrast to the seeming futility of this seasons visit to Stamford Bridge and the Etihad or the psychological minefields that Anfield and Old Trafford have tended to be for Everton, games against Arsenal always seem to offer a bit of hope despite our atrocious record on their home soil.
Maybe it's because we have fared better since they moved to the Emirates and came so close to beating them with Steven Pienaar's wondergoal a few years ago. Or maybe it's because of how well we have performed against the Gunners in recent meetings, even if we haven't always got the results we deserved.
In Lukaku and Mirallas, we have the weapons to do damage against a side that lacks pace at the back and should be a lot more open in defence than many of our other opponents this season. Certainly, Monaco were able to ruthlessly exploit their defensive deficiences in midweek and an early counter-attack goal for Everton like that scored by Dimitar Berbatov would certainly set on edge the Arsenal fans looking for a big redemptive reaction from their team and provide the conditions for the Blues to sow more fear and uncertainty into an otherwise dangerous opponent.
Kick off: 2.05pm
Referee: Andre Marriner
Last Time: Arsenal 1 - 1 Everton, 8 December 2013
Quotes sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (52)
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2 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:05:58
1. All runs come to an end sometime
2. ItÂs a funny old game
4 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:01:29
5 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:12:37
If Lukaku gets a chance he must score as this is the type of game that you can't miss two/three chances, if we score 1st the atmosphere of the home crowd will go in our favour.
God knows the team that RM will put out but for me personally, Garbutt has to start at LB, I can see the midfield of Jimmy Mac, Barry & Gibson who deserves a starting place IMO as he has shown he can pick a forward pass.
I could be wide of the mark here but I reckon Barkley could start behind Lukaku in place of Naismith? He has been great Nais but I think he needs a blow, put him on the bench. This game could suit Barkley as it's away from home so a bit less pressure on his shoulders.
6 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:37:15
7 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:44:56
8 Posted 01/03/2015 at 00:59:23
IMHO anything can happen in this weird season, and if we're on our game-why not because Arsenal didn't look that impressive last weekend and less so vs Monaco. I'd like to see the 4-3-3 employed vs Young Boys as it looks more solid and the players look a lot more comfortable. Obviously I like to see gaff-a-game Howard dropped, and Garbutt given a run, but it ain't gonna happen.
But Terrible Tim will have to give the performance of his life against some of the best attacking players in the EPL; who know he may even catch a few balls-now that would be a novelty.
9 Posted 01/03/2015 at 01:52:43
10 Posted 01/03/2015 at 02:20:06
Other than that it would mean Gibson playing left or right of a three, or Barkley being there and Gibson dropping to the bench. If that's the case, my patience will run out with the man, because to tip-tap across the back four with Arsenal's attackers just waiting for a mistake will be suicide.
11 Posted 01/03/2015 at 02:15:41
As we all too aware, our performance in Europe has absolutely no crossover to the league, but maybe, just maybe, this is the match where all the pieces fall into place, and we finally play up to our potential. A look at the table says we aren't going to get much from the game, but hope springs eternal.
If we can effectively defend when they come at us...and they will come at us in waves, they just might be vulnerable to the counter.
I just wish we knew which Everton is going to show up.
12 Posted 01/03/2015 at 02:10:26
I actually think that even Roberto has to have seen that Â– at least right now Â– Gibson is making a difference, and will start him. He will also start Barry, Baines and Howard for better/worse. Good shout above too, Ross over Nessi in this one. Ross holds a special place in his hate-filled heart for Arsenal. Always runs them ragged. Start Mirallas too.
This season is jut screaming out for an out of nowhere win on the road against a "top" club. Just like the Euro results where we all say "how the fuck did we just beat them, while we draw at home to Leicester City"? Anything less than a WIN and we remain in 14th place. 14th, I did not stutter. But I do shutter. Pass the butter..... cream birthday cake.
13 Posted 01/03/2015 at 02:56:59
14 Posted 01/03/2015 at 03:01:41
My prediction. Knowing the stubborness of RM he'll revert to 4-2-3-1 with the Barry/MacCarthy axis and the Bearded Butterfingers in goal. Barkley will get half an hour before RM realises he's crap and gets the hook in favour of Lennon or Mirallas bcause he won't start both of them. Barry will get sent off for two bookable fouls and we will lose by two clear goals 2-0, or 3-1.
15 Posted 01/03/2015 at 04:16:28
16 Posted 01/03/2015 at 04:50:33
No excuse today then as the Arsenal manager is considered as like-minded as our special nice man.
17 Posted 01/03/2015 at 05:03:08
We have to get something out of every game from here in. An absolute disgrace we are having to talk like this...
18 Posted 01/03/2015 at 06:44:14
I have just finished watching the Europa League highlights. There are some very good teams left in that competition so that didn't cheer me up much either.
This game, like the other remaining 11, is about our Premier League survival - I hope Roberto gets his selection and tactics right. I think our only option is to go at them as John @ 17 says. 4-4-2
Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines
McCarthy, Barry, Gibson, Besic
That team should give Arsenal, who are suspect at the back, a game. If they play to their potential they could even win it.
Are we nearly there yet?
19 Posted 01/03/2015 at 06:27:32
Hope Lukaku listened to Shearer on Match of the Day as he advised Falcao to keep making forward runs instead of dropping deeper to receive the ball with his back to goal. A tiring task but we all know it's the way he should be used.
Can't forecast the result. Not with this Everton team. On our day we can beat anyone but those days haven't been very frequent of late.
20 Posted 01/03/2015 at 07:37:36
21 Posted 01/03/2015 at 07:55:57
22 Posted 01/03/2015 at 08:35:13
Unfortunately we are Everton and the Arse are one of our historic voodoo teams.
If there is a win or a result coming our way, I think Gibson should start; he's looked great in the past two games and deserves to play. However with Bobby's shite tactics and Timmy's goalkeeping antics, we could be 3 down by half-time!
23 Posted 01/03/2015 at 08:28:44
If your bold and willing to reward performances then you pick Gibson and Garbutt.
If your too scared to upset the big names and want to just play favourites then you pick the underperforming Baines and you go with same trio of defensive midfielders that, as decent as they are holding the play up, creativity is not their strengths (I'm talking about McCarthy, Besic and Besic incase people are confused)
Before Christmas we won 2-0 at Wolfsburg, the two most important players that night were Garbutt and Hibbert, the following game he drops those two for Coleman and Baines in a disappointing defeat at Tottenham.
Today is again a chance to try something different, can the man not see that the same tried and tested formula has been a huge failure all season in the Premier League?
Don't get me wrong, as much as I have been a fan of Baines over the year's, he is not the same roving left back of two or three years ago, too often he slows the play down when in advanced positions by opting for a sideways pass, whereas Garbutt looks to cut out the middle man, he looks to simply charge forward and cross the ball, cutting out that extra three or four passes sideways and back that you see with Baines.
Again I like McCarthy and Besic but let's be honest, what have they offered going forward all season?
Has either Besic or McCarthy played a forward pass like the one Gibson sent through on Thursday?
Playing one of Besic or McCarthy next to Barry has completely stagnated any hope of creativity this season.
I know they are both wholehearted lads but you need more and we have failed to create enough against teams this season in the Premier League.
A chance has arose for Martinez to try something different today.
It may not work, but at least give it a try.
I don't know about anyone else but I'm tired of the same old hard luck stories in these games never creating anything or giving ourselves a chance.
24 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:08:51
25 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:13:55
This will be a tough game where we'll be without the ball for long periods having to defend and counter when we can.
If fit Gibson should play but after so long out we may have to bring him back slowly. Martinez would be mad not to start Mirallas given he's our most creative played.
Today will be tough and I'd take any positive result but expect us to lose 2-0.
I would gladly take a defeat today if it meant 3 points on weds.
26 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:20:22
27 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:22:58
Coleman Stones Jagielka Garbutt
Lennon Barkley Mirallas
28 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:27:29
McCarthy, Barry, Gibson and Besic in midfield?! You don't 'go at' a team by playing FOUR holding midfielders.
A more sane team selection would be:
Howard and Barry will clearly start though and to be fair, the latter has actually improved the last 3 games.
Gibson deserves to play a part too after that performance earlier in the week.
29 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:19:00
Sorry guys, I hope I'm wrong but it's 3-0 to the Arse from me.
30 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:36:15
Garbutt would be my choice and I would play Gibson along with Barry, with either Macca or Besic, but not both. This is the most European game we could have in our league, and I would start with Naismith for 50 mins, and then unleash Barkley who would be able to stretch a tiring defence.
We are due a result there, so fingers crossed.
31 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:51:24
Coleman Jags Stones Garbutt
Mcarthy Gibson Barry
Lennon Lukaku Mirallas
Defensive solidity provided by three CMs, but with Gibson providing the sort of passing range we will need to hit them on the break. The front 3 has pace to burn, again Ideal for counter attacks.
32 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:07:39
A small possibility of a battling draw, Ã la Manchester City.
Even optimistically I don't see us climbing more than 3 places before the end of the season now.
I'm also very glad they put Sherwood in charge of Villa!
33 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:08:48
35 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:19:53
Really looking forward to it myself :)
36 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:14:02
Not since the days of Mike Walker has it been so grim. Go now and take the dead wood with you. We donÂt need to be in a dogfight when this season after last we should be pushing for Champions League Â– not Championship football.
37 Posted 01/03/2015 at 09:41:41
I have to agree that my footballing sanity is a bit suspect - I noticed it started going downhill a bit in November ;)
Just hope we get some sort of a result.
38 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:17:25
I'm very disenchanted with whole scenario. We will definitely lose today. Everton don't do surprises.
I can't wait for the season to be over and hopefully a new manager in the summer. It's just not good enough. Only 30 years ago we were as big if not bigger than Arsenal. Now look at the difference. Makes you wanna cry!
39 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:49:10
Closing down in midfield (so McCarthy and Barry are important, as will be Nais), safety first defending (so Baines over Garbutt), rapid movement of the ball into the final third with balls through the channels (so Gibson) or from wide and behind the defence (Seamus, Mirallas), and Rom facing goal (and onside!!!).
Take the game to them, run your knackers off, with final 20 minutes of Barks, Kone possibly, Osman possibly.
40 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:46:54
41 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:50:38
Coleman, Stones Jagielka Baines
Lennon McCarthy Barry Barkley
42 Posted 01/03/2015 at 10:45:46
Logic says we will go down to Arsenal but there has to be a shock result at least once in a season and I feel it could be an Everton win today.
The reason for this is that for once I've kept my 20 quid in my pocket and the lads will punish me for it. You see !
43 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:10:58
45 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:18:55
Interesting to hear Warnock on 5live on Friday evening saying how premier league teams have sussed out how to play us and the teams on the continent hadn't wised up yet.
And yet Roberto remains convinced his style of play when played correctly can cope with any tactics against it. So it's over to the players to produce the perfect performance, no mistakes from Howard and Lukaku to be deadly in front of goal.
The table makes for a grim read.
46 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:24:35
47 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:26:20
48 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:29:47
Optimistic about this game for some unknown reason. Must still be the booze in my system from last night. 3-1 to us. I must be mad.
49 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:39:05
Phil R, it ain't over till it's over. But it's almost over.
50 Posted 01/03/2015 at 11:45:56
On paper and on form we should lose today. Why am I holding out for a 1-0 win here, followed by a victory against Stoke? Mindless optimism? Think on this: we could almost be safe by Wednesday.
52 Posted 01/03/2015 at 12:12:22
54 Posted 01/03/2015 at 12:21:17
57 Posted 01/03/2015 at 12:37:06
Like Jim said earlier, good players in their own right but you'd never see them hitting a pass like Gibson did on Thursday Â– what the so-called experts may term a killer ball. No, I'm expecting the backlash off Arsenal who were poor the other night and I fear we could get tonked today.
Oh and here's a gem I only found out last night. We've never won when we've been live on BT Sport. I'll get me coat...
58 Posted 01/03/2015 at 12:46:57
I know Moyes tried Baines in this position in front of Lescott & it didn’t work. However Baines had not long arrived & was still finding his feet. He’s much more accomplished now & didn’t perform too badly the other week in midfield.
It would give us better balance & be preferable to playing somebody such as Barkley, out of position on the wide left.
60 Posted 01/03/2015 at 13:11:55
61 Posted 01/03/2015 at 13:37:33
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