By guest blogger, Matt Milstead
With 31 games out of 38 played by both Arsenal and Everton, there is little time remaining for either side to mount a challenge for the top four. Arsenal are within touching distance of Tottenham, but Everton find themselves six points behind Spurs.
This midweek fixture will go a long way towards determining how the season will end for both clubs. If Everton win, they will be right back in the mix for fourth. However, a draw or a home win and the Merseysiders will have to content themselves with a Europa League spot.
Get Arsenal v Everton tickets and you will have a chance to watch two of England’s top sides clash at the Emirates Stadium next Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger has waxed lyrical about his side’s qualities this season, yet too often the performances have not been up to scratch. When the season began, Arsenal were in the hunt for four trophies, yet the cupboard will be bare at the Emirates again. Embarrassing exits from the Capital One Cup and FA Cup to lower league sides cannot be tolerated, while another last 16 failure in the UEFA Champions League is troubling. Arsenal may be only two points off fourth spot, but they are 21 points behind league leaders Manchester United. That is the gap their fans are most concerned about. There was a time when Arsenal were United’s main challengers, but that seems a lifetime ago now.
Both sides will approach this game with a winning mentality, knowing that three points are crucial. Yet neither manager wants to lose the game in the opening half hour, which will result in a cagey beginning. Arsenal dominate possession at home, but Everton will be happy to sit back and hit them on the counter attack. Marouane Fellaini will be a massive threat to the home side, with his aerial prowess making him a nightmare for most defenders.
David Moyes has a terrible record away to the top clubs, having failed to win at Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, or Liverpool during his entire tenure at Goodison Park. This would be the perfect day to turn that around, with Everton’s season on the line. A Europa League spot is not a terrible return for a side that invests minimally on the playing staff, but Everton are a proud club with a storied history of success.
Arsenal are firm favorites to win this game, especially given their attacking prowess. The likes of Gervinho, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott will cause Everton all sorts of problems. Jack Wilshere may not be fit enough to start, but Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are more than capable of creating chances with their defence splitting passes.
The key for Everton will be to defend as a team and take their chances. They will have their moments going forward, but the likes of Jelavic, Pienaar and Fellaini must be clinical when presented with an opportunity to score.
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