First placed Arsenal face-off against fifth placed Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The Gunners come to this game on the back of five wins out of six in the league. Their striker, Oliver Giroud, rested in mid-week, should be fresh to lead the line again.
Arsenal’s consistency has confounded quite a few observers. A lot of ‘key tests’ have come and gone, including clashes against Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton. One tired performance against United apart, the team has acquitted itself well in these games.
The coming weeks represent another set of big games for the north Londoners. The show starts with Everton at the Emirates, followed by a visit to the scene of most footballing massacres in the Premier League this season – Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.
Finally, the Gunners face Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side, who themselves are finding some form. After that, they will be bang in the middle of the busy Christmas period when the games will come thick and fast.
Arsenal’s opponents this weekend are themselves flying high after beating Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1992. The Toffees have the fewest defeats of all Premier League sides this season. They have three wins and three draws in their last six games.
They have the on loan Chelsea boy, Romelu Lukaku, who is showing all the signs of becoming a prolific Premier League goal scorer. A bit of a rough diamond, he is learning fast and learning well.
Leighton Baines is out with a toe fracture but Bryan Oviedo has proven a more than capable deputy, scoring in the last two games for Everton. Roberto Martinez has done a tremendous job at Everton, adding some imagination and adventure to the steel that the side already had under previous incumbent David Moyes. Astute loan signings in the form of Gareth Barry, Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu have helped greatly.
James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are a great pairing in the center of Martinez’s midfield, but they will be facing arguably the biggest test of their season against the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Carzola, Jack Wilshere, and the outstanding Aaron Ramsey. Although with Arsenal’s propensity to play through the centre, Everton’s full-backs might get some joy attacking on the flanks.
It will be interesting to see if Martinez starts with Ross Barkley. The Everton youngster has played two huge games against Liverpool and United. He was brilliant in both.
The Emirates fixture between these two teams has usually favoured Arsene Wenger’s side with three wins and two draws in five. However, Everton are a different animal under Martinez. With two sides, who are playing attractive football, its bound to be a great game.
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