With no fit strikers Everton have made the most out of a bad situation and are now six games unbeaten. Arsenal are also on good form having been undefeated in eight and are looking for a fourth straight win.
Venue: Goodison Park Date: Wednesday, 28 January Kick-off: 2000 GMT
After five defeats this season already most teams would be out of the title race but lo and behold, the Gunners are still in it even though they have to be really consistent to make up the gap. Everton are creeping behind in sixth-place though with a thin-wafer squad it is possible to rule them out.
The Toffee’s resurgence has seen manager David Moyes Deploy two players in new positions; Mikel Arteta as almost a deep playmaker and Tim Cahill up front while new signing MarouaneFellaini has been a handful behind the forward. Although Arteta may not be fit it is not hard to figure out what tactic Everton will deploy tonight. “They have talented individuals and we don’t need to remind our players of that and how good Arsenal can be,” said David Moyes. “On their day and given time and space they can be very fluent and open you up.”
Playing a 4-5-1, Everton will look to deny Arsenal space, closing down aggressively and being strong in the challenge. On the counter they are a threat with Osman and Pienaar’s speed while looking to feed off Cahill and Fellain’s knock downs from the long ball. The threat in the air will be a big danger so it is unlikely Wenger will pair Gallas and Toure in the heart of defence. Defensively Everton have been very solid with Jagielka the rock, having played every game this season and will be partnered by Joleon Lescott.
Arsenal are unbeaten but have had to get late goals against defensive minded opposition. Robin Van Persie has been influential in both scoring and creating chances and Wenger sees the Dutchman’s role to become as important as Dennis Bergkamp’s.
“He makes goals as well,” said Wenger. “For me that is in his position as important as scoring goals. “Having him fit is the good news of the season. We had lost Robin in the second half of the season, people forget. This year he has had a sustained run and you can see when he has that he scores goals.”
The physical nature of Everton will see Denilson partnered by Diaby in central midfield while because of injuries it is likely Arsenal will be unchanged out wide. Clichy returns in place of Gibbs who will drop to the bench.
Arsenal Likely Line Up (4-4-2)
Sagna – Toure (c) – Djourou – Clichy
Eboue – Diaby – Denilson – Nasri
Adebayor – Van Persie
Subs from: Fabianski, Gallas, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Vela, Bendtner, Wilshere
Everton Likely Line Up (4-4-1-1)
Hibbert – Jagielka – Lescott – Baines
Osman – Neville (c) – Arteta – Pienaar
Subs from: Nash, Yobo, Gosling, Castillo, Rodwell, Anichebe, Van der Meyde, Jacobsen, Jutkiewicz
Form Guide: Arsenal (5th) W12 D5 L5= 41 points Everton (6th): W10 D6 L6= 36 points
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Arsenal