A hectic start to the season continues for Arsenal today with a trip to Everton for an evening kick off. With the season only a week d Arsenal will be playing their third game and they have two more to come in the next week before the first international break. It's not an easy task for the team with players returning late from World Cup duty and injuries already starting to have an effect.
At least the team managed to keep going at home to Palace last week and get a late winner to get the season off on a firm footing. The 0-0 draw away to Besiktas on Tuesday wasn't ideal, but it leaves Arsenal as firm favourites to progress to the group stages of the Champions League. The downsides from those two games were the injuries to Mikel Arteta and Kieron Gibbs as well as Aaron Ramsey's red card against Besiktas.
Everton drew their opening game away to Leicester and don't look to have strengthened from last season. They beat Arsenal far too easily towards the end of last season though when they briefly looked like they might pip them to fourth place. In the end Arsenal finished ahead of them with relative ease, but can expect another rough ride today.
Too often last season Arsenal failed to react when good opponents came at them and Everton are bound to use the same tactics again I would imagine. Arsene Wenger needs to have his team prepared and rating to go from the first minute to counter whatever Everton throw at them. They are a very good team at home in particular and they cannot be allowed to dominate Arsenal like they did in that 3-0 victory last season.
Calum Chambers is very much an inexperienced centre back and he could have a very tough ride from Romelu Lukaku. He slipped badly to let Demba Ba in against Brsiktas and it's an awful to expect of him so soon in his career. There isn't much choice for Arsenal in the centre of defence though with Per Mertesacker not ready to play yet, Thomas Vermaelen sold and no other replacements bought yet.
The Arsenal defence is stretched to the limit already with the injury to Gibbs to contend with too and some serious work in the transfer market had to be done before the window closes. It will only take one more injury for Arsenal's defensive options to reach crisis levels with the season only a week old. Hopefully that won't happen today with the return leg to come at home to Besiktas on Wednesday night.
With the Besiktas game in mind there might be a few changes today, but at least one of them will be enforced. Mathieu Flamini will surely fill in for Arteta and I wouldn't be surprised if the only other change saw Alexis Sanchez move to a central striking role with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming in on the right side of the attacking trio. That would see Olivier Giroud drop to the bench which might not be a bad idea as he still doesn't look to have got his touch or game going so far this season. The need for more defensive height at set pieces could well see Giroud keep his place though or possibly Yaya Sanogo come in for him.
It's been common knowledge for more than a while that Wojciech Szczesny needs some competition to keep him on his toes. It was thought that the arrival of David Ospina would be the spur he needed, but he has been far from commanding in the last two games while Ospina has been injured. If he is finally going to shut the doubters up he needs to play well whether his place in the team is under threat or not.
It's not going to be easy for Arsenal going to Everton so early in the season and in the middle of two such important games against Besiktas, but the players availableare still more than capable of getting a result. A win would be the ideal scenario, but avoiding defeat wouldn't be a disaster either. Arsenal will face some harder games away from home this season, but most of their away trips will be under easier circumstances. I'll be happy to see Arsenal take a point from Everton, but as always I want them to win.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.