It seems that Mikel Arteta and his methods are starting to sink in. Our last game against Olympiacos was in a volatile atmosphere and we came away with a win and a clean sheet.
Could that have been said under Unai Emery?
Our defence has earned three consecutive clean sheets and we look firmer than we have done in quite some time. This is exactly when we want to be showing this upward trend, as the business end of the season is kicking into gear, and we face a resurgent Everton side in the Premier League.
Yep, it’s at home, but this advantage will not be enough to guarantee us points. The Toffees under Carlo Ancelotti are a different animal than the one that struggled under previous boss Marco Silva – much like we did under Emery.
Now both sides are harnessing their own strengths and are slowly fighting their way up the table. And Everton bring that fight to The Emirates now – and we need to show that defensive organization if we are to continue our winning run.
If we look at Everton’s form, they’ve scored six in their last two games and won them both, but they have weaknesses. They may be in rude health up top – with a little help from Dominic Calvert-Lewin – but their defence is hardly fortified. In fact, they haven’t kept a clean sheet for four games.
So our attack should be licking their lips.
Who does Arteta go with in order to maximise our chances?
There was a bit of a shuffle for our win Greece, as Martinelli, Guendouzi and Willock came into the side and we had three centre-backs in the lineup. That will change for this game, as Arteta will most likely go with his more-oft used formation of 4-2-3-1.
That will most likely see Nicolas Pepe come into the lineup in the place of Martinelli. Mesut Ozil missed out against Olympiacos due to the imminent birth of his first child. The German should come straight back into the side – as he had a stormer in his last game.
The same goes for Dani Ceballos, who Arteta thought was the best player on the pitch. Lucas Torreira is now free from illness too, so Mikel has a choice to make – perhaps a three in midfield?
For once, our defence seems pretty settled, so no real changes are on the horizon and everyone is fit!
Player to watch
The lofty striker has been transformed under Ancelotti, and this season has been by far the best in terms of goals scored. He looks to be in line for an England call too. How do we stop him? We need Mustafi and Luiz to be at their best in the air – and cut off the supply.
How This Could Go
Everton are in full flow right now and scoring plenty. So are we, but it has been our defence that has been the cornerstone of our recovery lately. Three clean sheets on the bounce has helped enormously.
So how do we get the points? We play quick. We use Saka to stretch the Everton backline and we shut down Sigurdsson who will look to spring Calvert-Lewin whenever possible.
Richarlison will be a threat too, but Saka and Aubameyang have been unstoppable down our left side – and if they move like they did in the second half against Newcastle – then the likes of Digne and the rest of the Everton defence will be pulled out of shape.
It could be decided by who has the best longevity too, or a late sub.
Martinelli to come off the bench to win it? Worth a shout.
Predicted Team – Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Mustafi, Saka, Xhaka, Ceballos, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal
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