Sunday, 6 April 2014

Arsenal's Premier League Trip To Everton Previewed

Arsenal have a good record away from home this season with nine wins in their 16 games and only United can better that after they won at Newcastle on Saturday. That away record doesn't tell the whole story though as Arsenal have suffered three awful away defeats to the three teams ahead of them and have only won once in their six away games against teams in the top eight. Their away record has been built upon victories over teams in the lower reaches of the league and Everton certainly don't fit into that category.

Everton have only lost one of their 15 home league games this season and have won their last five games in a row. They have closed the gap on fourth placed Arsenal to four points and they have a game in hand too. They have a very real chance of finishing in the top four and qualifying for next season's Champions League, but they need to beat Arsenal to make that chance even more real.

From Arsenal's perspective it's a game they really cannot afford to lose and they have to approach it in a practical manner. Everton played very well when they took a point off Arsenal at the Emirates a few months ago and the 4-1 FA Cup win for Arsenal last month was more than flattering. They are a very good team who are not easy to beat on their home patch in particular.

Of course they're not the attacking force of either City or Liverpool and they're not as defensively strong as Chelsea. Roberto Martinez has made them into a very good team though and they're far more pleasing on the eye than they were under David Moyes. They will try to take the game to Arsenal and probably go all out to get the win which could set up a very nervous end to the season for Arsenal. 

Arsenal have got it all wrong away to the three teams above them and they need to get their approach spot on today. A defeat would be another blow to a team which has struggled to recover from setbacks in the last couple of months and there's an FA Cup semi final coming up next week. It would be great to go into that game with Wigan with a win behind the team and fourth place looking all but secure.

I don't think there will or can be too much change to the team which put in a good second half performance to get a point off City last week. Aaron Ramsey is available again after missing just over three months through injury, but I can't imagine he will be ready to start the game. He might just be ready to face Wigan next week and he will be a welcome addition for the last five league games and hopefully an FA Cup final too.

I think Arsenal have to keep things as tight as possible from the start and hopefully keep Everton at bay early on. They can't afford another early capitulation and the effect of an early goal conceded could be very bad. It's often said that goals change games and of course they do, but Arsenal cannot let any goals conceded deter them from their aim. 

It's not often that I say I would settle for a point when Arsenal play, but a point would be quite acceptable today. A win would be infinitely superior and would almost secure fourth spot with a run which Arsenal are more than capable of winning every game in. There's still plenty to play for this season even if the league title is beyond Arsenal and the right result today will hopefully set up a good finish to the season.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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