Arsenal travel away to Everton today to face a side that is a shadow of last season’s top six side. They are currently 18th in the table with just 8 points from their opening 9 games and lost to Burnley in their last home League game, so surely Arsenal should be able to finally get their first away win?
Arsene Wenger will be praying for the three points to keep them on track for a Top Four fight and could join Chelsea in fourth place if we win, which could take a bit of pressure off our under-fire manager and much-maligned players! One thing that Everton have going for them is the return of Wayne Rooney, who scored his first Everton goal against us 15 years ago. Wenger knows he will have to be wary against a player that has scored more goals against the Gunners than anyone else in the League. Le Prof said: “I still remember [that goal in 2002] because he scored against David Seaman,”
“He came on and straight away you could see that this guy has special talent. If we speak about him now, it means that he lasted 15 years and at the top level that is absolutely exceptional – you need a special talent for that. Overall I think that sums it up well.
“As well [as Everton] he played long years at Manchester United and they were an exceptional side going forward. And Man United, especially at home, won always between 14 and 16 games and were an offensive force, and that is why he scored so many goals.”
He has started the season well and already has 3 goals to his name, but is unlikely to be as dangerous as Romelu Lukaku, who replaced him at Old Trafford in the summer. Wenger believes this has weakened the Toffees considerably. He said: “You can’t sell a player like Romelu Lukaku without having a replacement lined up. They sold him and then suddenly they went out looking for a load of strikers. They were surprised when clubs around Europe, who knew what they needed, said they weren’t going to sell to them or put high prices on their strikers. Everton were left hamstrung. Every squad needs different types of players.
“You need different skillsets for different scenarios and at the moment Everton have nobody to stretch the opposition. Too much of their play is in front of their opponents and that’s making them predictable and relatively easy to play against. I hope we’re not jinxing it here because they’ve still got talented players. It’s much like I said before the Watford game: you can’t take anything for granted here.”
That remains to be seen, but we certainly have a bit of good news with the return of Laurent Koscielny in defence, and with Mustafi still on the treatment table I am expecting Per Mertesacker to play alongside the Boss with Monreal making the third man. The rest of the team is easy to predict with Arsene unlikely to make any changes despite some good performances on Thursday against Red Star. “Some of the Europa League players are making it hard to be left out of the Premier League games,” said Wenger. “That’s what you want. But I believe as well, once you go into the rotation and you have so many tight games with such a short period of time, we play Sunday, we play Tuesday, you’re a bit of a prisoner of that. You can make two or three changes but with the short period of recovery time, you cannot play all the 11 that played on Thursday – that’s impossible now.
“I have seen that freshness [in the players who haven’t travelled], especially when the games are repeated. At the moment, [they] play nearly every week.
So this is the line-up I am expecting….
Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal,
Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac,
Sanchez, Ozil, Lacazette
That looks like a strong enough side, on paper anyway, so I am going to go for Arsenal to finally get an away win in an easy fashion. So I am going to be brave and say 3-1 to the Gunners.
What do you think?