Premier League – Everton v Arsenal Preview
With victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City already to their name at Goodison since the turn of the year, Everton certainly have the capability to trouble Arsenal on Merseyside this week. David Moyes celebrated 10 years in the Everton hot-seat last week but the celebrations over to have taken its toll on the squad as they were easily second-best in the Merseyside derby and also under-performed against Sunderland in the FA Cup at the weekend when fielding a stronger starting XI.
There’s not a great deal to play for in the Premier League for Everton between now and the end of the season, the FA Cup is their only conceivable chance of silverware, and Moyes may make changes among his small squad again for the visit of the Gunners with that quarter-final replay at the Stadium Of Light uppermost in his mind. That could still mean a start for England centre-back Phil Jagielka, however, who’ll be eager to remind watchers of his worth after injury, and Everton fans will be hoping Tim Cahill’s goal against Sunderland kick-starts the Australian’s season.
Arsenal had a rest at the weekend and that has given their walking wounded a few more days to work on their fitness. Mikael Arteta should face his former club but can’t be certain of a warm reception having left Goodison in a hurry in August after six and a half years at Everton. The Gunners have won their last four, scoring 12 times in the process with the remarkable Robin van Persie responsible for five of those. The Dutchman has now netted 33 times this season, 26 of those coming in the Premier League. There has been some criticism levelled at the Arsenal defence this term but you can’t fault an attack that averages two goals a game and they’ve had their fair share of injuries.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has a long way to go to match the exploits of van Persie but the youngster appears to improve with every game and could yet earn a late call-up to England’s Euro 2012 squad, though may have to battle team-mate Theo Walcott for a wide role. Walcott has come back strongly in recent weeks having attracted some criticism from fans and he’s 8/1 to be the game’s first scorer against Everton. Arsenal have to be the bet to win again in their current form and are priced up at 11/8. The Draw/Arsenal on the Half Time/ Full Time Forecast is 9/2.