Did you realize that as things stand, Arsenal have the best away record in the league so far?
I just noticed it and triple checked it because it was a little difficult to believe at first. But that is more down to the negativity on the internet that messes my mind rather than the performances because thinking back, since the start of the season, Arsenal have won at tough places like Blackburn and City, and drawn at Sunderland and Liverpool.
To put it another way, we’ve picked up 4 points on Chelsea due to our results at Anfield and the City of Manchester Stadium. I feel Goodison Park can be another venue that gives Arsenal a chance to gain some ground as Chelsea will struggle to get a win here unless Everton implode.
Of course it won’t be easy but the Gunners have not lost against Everton in the last six meetings.
Focusing on the game, I feel Everton will be very similar to Wolves but marginally better in almost every department, which makes them a much stronger opponent than the one we faced three days ago. They’ll be well organized, chase the ball all over the pitch, and will be a threat in the box from crosses and set-pieces.
On a positive note I expect them to go for the win and that could open the game up for out attacking players. Nonetheless, Arsenal will need the same level of defensive concentration and commitment that we saw in midweek, at the very least.
Tactically, a lot will depend on how Arsenal play this game. If we sit back like we did against Wolves, Everton will come forward in numbers and will create as many or more chances than Wolves did.
Since that was almost directly the result of an early goal I expect this game to be somewhat different. To be honest, Arsenal have not found their rhythm for a while now and that could make this a see-saw battle with some end to end action instead of Arsenal dominating possession as we’ve come to expect.
Wenger’s team selection will obviously be important but right now I’m happy I don’t have to make the difficult choices.
The back five is likely to be the same. Gibbs could be back in the squad but he hasn’t played for a long time so I’ll be surprised if he starts. Eboue hasn’t been convincing enough this season so it will be a big risk to play him in such a game.
There aren’t many options in midfield but Denilson could come in for Wilshere who has already played thrice in the last 10 days or so. I’d also like to see Nasri come in for Cesc, who has been out of sorts physically and perhaps mentally as well, but I can’t see Arsene leaving Fabregas on the bench. Song just has to play in this kind of a game.
Up front I’d like to see Arshavin on left. He was extremely lively in the previous game and showed the hunger and urgency that the fans wanted to see. He is a form/confidence player and will need a run of games.
Chamakh should also be a certainly unless Van Persie is fit enough to start. Despite his demands, I can’t see Bendtner starting.
On the right Arsene has a choice between Nasri, Walcott, and Rosicky. I’d go with Walcott as Baines is an attacking full-back and Theo could get some space in behind. He would also force the Everton defender to stay back more often that he’d like to.
The team I’d like to see is,
Fabianski – Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy – Song, Nasri, Denilson – Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin.
Having said that, I’ll be genuinely surprised if Fabregas doesn’t start.
We’ll have an unbelievable bench with the likes of Rosicky, RvP, Bendtner, and Cesc/Nasri/Wilshere. But I have a feeling the result will be decided by those who start and not by those who come on from the bench.
I’d like to see us continue to build on the impressive away record but this one seems like a 1-1 to me.