Everton will be hoping that the magic of the floodlights at Goodison can help them to 3pts, as they host Arsenal, in their first midweek fixture of the season on Wednesday night. Both sides will be looking to bounce back from disappointing draws on the weekend and with both sides fighting for the 4th spot, 3pts will be vital for the chase. For Everton, this will be a real test, after starting the season on fire, they have struggled of late, only winning 1 of its past 7 matches, however, they have only lost once in that time. The weekends performance against Norwich typified this form as Everton largely dominated the match, however, due to poor defending and poor finishing, it ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw, in which Everton conceded a late equaliser. It has been a similar story for the visitors, Arsenal endured a frustrating 0-0 draw with Aston Villa, a result that has put pressure on Wenger. With both sides fighting for 4th spot, with Everton currently 5th, one place and one point better off than Arsenal, 3pts will be vital for the chase for 4th.
Everton and England international centre back Phil Jagielka had this to say on getting the armband
“It`s always a really proud moment and something that I enjoy doing, I was vice-captain at Sheffield United for a couple of years and didn`t really know what the role meant, obviously being a bit younger then. Watching Nev, with the way he is the captain, you realise that when he is not there that you have to step up to the plate and do a little bit more talking. If anyone needs anything around the Club or they need something going to the manager and they don`t know how to go about it, it`s a role that I`m going to have to adapt to.”
Former Everton favourite and current Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta was left to defend manager Arsene Wenger’s team selection after the 0-0 draw with Villa saying
‘They can say whatever they want, If they feel that way, it has to be respected. I think [Wenger’s] got experience and he knows the club better than anyone. He knows the players really well and he knows what he can get in the future for us. So, when he puts the team out obviously it’s because he wants to win and he thinks it’s the best team on that day to win the game. He’s always trying to do the best and some of the decisions he takes are unpopular but he takes the decision for a reason.’
Everton Team News:
Everton could be in line to get back 3 crucial players back for the Arsenal game. Everton star Marouane Fellaini will definitely be back in the starting XI after he served his match 1 suspension against Norwich. In other big news, key men Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) and Darron Gibson (thigh) could also be included in the starting lineup after overcoming their respective injuries. Tony Hibbert could also return to the starting XI after only being fit enough for the bench on the weekend. However, Neville and Anichebe will definitely mss the clash with knee and hamstring injuries.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Hibbert, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas, Jelavic
Player to watch: Marouane Fellaini
The Big belgian will be a massive boost for Everton after missing the Norwich match through suspension. Gaining worldwide plaudits for his performances, he is vital to the Everton setup with the likes of Pienaar, Osman, Baines, Jelavic and hopefully Mirallas all feeding off the big man. Not only is he putting in the performances, he has also become a goal threat, something which he has always lacked since he joined the club, however, since his move to behind the striker, he has become a major headache for the opposition and it will be no different for the Arsenal defenders. Arsenal will need to think of a game plan to stop the big Belgian because if they don’t, it will be a certain 3pts for the home side
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal will welcome back the likes of Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere to the starting XI after they were on the bench against Aston Villa on the weekend. In injury news, Theo Walcott is set to return after recovering from a shoulder injury which caused him to miss the last 2 games for the Gunners. Czech Tomas Rosicky could also make the squad as he continues to recover from a knee injury. The only definite outs for the visitors will be midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and defender Andre Santos (abdominal strain)
Possible Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere, Gervinho, Podolski, Walcott
Player to watch: Mikel Arteta
Although he isn’t their danger man, with that honour, for me, going to Santi Cazorla (who has been exceptional for the Gunners) all eyes will be on Arteta given he was an absolute fan favourite for Everton for years. However saying that, the lad is a talented footballer, as Evertonians know and Everton will be stupid to allow him to roam in the middle of the park, dictating the play for Arsenal, his passing and vision is well known by Evertonians, and in essence he is the one that starts the attacks for the Gunners, if the likes of Osman and Fellaini can curb his influence on the match, it will go a long way to an Everton win.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton’s last home defeat came back in March at the hands of Arsenal. The Gunners were 1-0 victors that night, however, Everton could feel aggrieved with the referee disallowing a perfectly good Everton goal
2. Expect some goals between the two sides, with the last 0-0 draw coming way back in 1993, since then, the sides have faced each other 41 times.
3. Arsenal hold a significant advantage over Everton, with the Gunners winning 98 times, compared to Everton’s 58, with 41 draws between the two.
4. Arsenal have been a bogey side for Everton, the last time Everton beat Arsenal came back in 2007, courtesy of a stoppage time winner from Andy Johnson
5. Everton left back Leighton Baines, became the first person in the 5 major European leagues, to notch up 50 chances created. Impressive considering he is a left back.
For me, this match will be dictated on who plays for Everton. If Mirallas and Gibson overcome their injuries, coupled that with the fact that the match is being played at night under the Goodison floodlights, which have brought some magical moments for Evertonians (Andy Johnson winner against Arsenal in the hail springs to mind), I think Everton can win the game. However, if Mirallas and Gibson don’t play, even though Fellaini returns, I find it hard to see an Everton win. So fingers crossed those two are fit. As for a result, not knowing the starting line up, will have to sit on the fence and say a 1-1 draw with Pienaar and Podolski finding the net. COYB!!!! 3PTS IS VITAL, BEAT THE GOONERS!!!!!