Match Preview: Everton vs Arsenal by SE
Match Day 2 of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season for Arsenal sees them travel to the North West of England, where they take on Everton at Goodison Park this Saturday evening. Arsenal and Everton finished 4th and 5th respectively in the Premier League table last season, as Wenger’s men narrowly edged the Toffees to seal that last Champions League spot. On paper, this should be an even contest, with both teams strengthening their respective squads during the summer.
Aaron Ramsey’s injury time winner against Crystal Palace at the Emirates last weekend gave Arsenal all three points and ensured that there were no slip ups in the very first game of the league campaign. Arsenal were made to work very hard, as a manager-less Crystal Palace tested the Gunners’ resolve and Championship qualities.
The trip to Goodison Park gives the North Londoners a big chance of mending their tendency to come second-best against teams with similar or better quality. Wenger’s tactical nous will once again be put through a litmus test, as Arsenal seek to garner crucial away points and make two wins in as many number of games in the league, so far.
The Toffees, after a brilliant first season under new manager Roberto Martinez, in which they finished 5th and earned Europa League Qualification, would look to consolidate by putting in a similar or a better show in the league this time around.
Everton managed to get a crucial away point against Leicester in the opening weekend of the Premier League season, but Arsenal and Chelsea coming to Goodison Park, in subsequent weekends, could have a huge bearing on who enjoys a flying start to the campaign.
In Roberto Martinez, Everton have a manager who has earned a good reputation for himself across Europe, and the Spaniard is ambitious for more success in the coming years. On Saturday, though, Martinez would want to ensure that home advantage prevails for Everton, and they make it hard for Arsenal to dictate the pace and tempo of the match.
Arsenal Team news:
Kieran Gibbs injured his hamstring in the first game against Crystal Palace and is expected to be out of action for at least a couple of weeks. Mikel Arteta is reported to have twisted his ankle, and will definitely miss the trip to Goodison Park. Theo Walcott, Miyachi and David Ospina are long term casualties, while the World Cup winning German trio Mertesacker, Ozil and Podolski are expected to return to action this weekend.
Everton Team news:
Everton, unlike Arsenal, have a meager couple of injuries to sweat on. Barkley is a long term casualty, while Bryan Oviedo, their Left-Back, will definitely miss Arsenal clash.
Arsenal’s probable starting lineup – Formation 4-3-3: Wojciech Szczesny (GK), Per Mertesacker (C), Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud.
Everton’s probable starting lineup – Formation 4-4-2: Tim Howard (GK), Phil Jagielka (C), Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Seamus Coleman, Gareth Barry, Steven Naismith, James McCarthy, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, Leon Osman.
Where the game could be decided?
Ozil is certain to return for Arsenal this weekend, but contrary to popular belief, I don’t think Wenger will facilitate a system that revolves around the German playmaker, which means 4-2-3-1 is definitely out of the equation. But, playing 4-3-3 would mean that Arsenal have enough personnel in their Engine room to dictate the tempo of the match.
However, the Gunners could be confronted with a 4-4-2 diamond formation, which is not much different to their own 4-3-3. Thus, if Arsenal do play their possession-based Football, and guard against pacey counter-attacks from Martinez’s side, the game could become an atritional one, with both sides working out each other and attaining parity at the end of 90 minutes.
Expect Arsenal to be cautious early on in the game, with Sanchez and Ozil doing their best to pinch a goal from somewhere. But, Everton, being the home side, would want to press Arsenal high up the pitch and test slow movers in Mertesacker and Monreal. In the end, it could prove to be a tactical battle, which, traditionally, results in a draw.
I predict an entertaining 1-1 draw for Arsenal, and a valuable away point earned.