Tim Cahill dispossesses former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
With all the hoopla of David Moyes' anniversary week subsiding, Everton can get back to focusing on playing football with a midweek visit from Arsenal. The nine-match unbeaten streak is well and truly behind them at this point after the humiliation at Liverpool and further dismay at being unable to beat a weakened Sunderland squad in the FA Cup quarter final game over the weekend. Moyes' selection policy in the face of a congested fixture list has come under intense scrutiny and that pressure will not abate with Wednesday's game.
They entertain an Arsenal squad that was rejuvenated after coming from two down to beat Tottenham, and then almost coming back from the dead to beat AC Milan in the Champions' League round of sixteen. Since then the Gunners have charged up the table to sit in fourth place, just one point behind . The Toffees are in tenth place, though a win on Wednesday would put them in eighth, a point ahead of Swansea City. Sunderland is also in the mix jostling for mid-table places as are Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. Keep it here for more on tomorrow's fixture.
Everton really need to get back on track with a solid performance of the kind that saw them go nine matches unbeaten across all competitions. Arsenal meanwhile have been creating history with a Premiership record of four consecutive games where they have come from behind to win. The London side have enjoyed traveling to Goodison lately, with thirteen goals in their last four trips there. Arsenal have scored eighty goals against Everton, a team high against any other opponent in the Premiership.
The Toffees will still be missing long term absentee Darron Gibson who has just resumed training, and could also miss Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell who picked up knocks. Cup-tied midfielder Steven Pienaar will return to the squad and hopefully provide the offensive spark that the Blues have sorely missed in the middle of the park. Central defender Phil Jagielka is fit again, and it will be interesting to see if he can crack the starting lineup again and what Moyes will then do with Johnny Heitinga.
Arsenal will be relying on their squad depth with Per Mertesacker, Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin and Jack Wilshere all expected to be out. Defender Thomas Vermaelen has recovered from his calf problem and will pair up with Laurent Koscielny in the middle of the defence.
Keys To The Game
Arsenal have had their shaky moments in defence, and Everton will have to make the most of whatever chances they get. After not managing a single shot on goal in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, Moyes will likely deploy Leon Osman and Royston Drenthe to get to the byline and play in some high balls for the trio of Nikica Jelavic, Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini to chase. Pienaar will be charged with providing the creative spark in midfield. Denis Stracqualursi provides some height and grit off the bench and will be expected to feature as well.
Moyes will have his hands full attempting to control Arsene Wenger's dominant 4-2-3-1 formation, spearheaded by an in-form Robin van Persie. Mikel Arteta and Alex Song have been excellent as holding midfielders, spreading the ball around for the speedy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott on the wings, while Tomas Rosicky has had a reawakening of sorts playing in the hole behind van Persie.
- Everton have lost seven of their last nine against Arsenal, with the other two being draws.
- Tim Cahill has scored three of the last four Everton goals against Arsenal at Goodison.
- The referee for this game will be Lee Mason, who controversially allowed a Louis Saha goal last season in the same fixture.
- Robin van Persie has 44 goals in his last 45 Premiership appearances.
- Arsenal have recovered 19 points from losing positions this season, the most in the League.