Everton travel to the Emirates stadium this Sunday to take on league leaders Arsenal. Both teams have been in very good form this season. The Gunners sit four points clear at the top of the Premier League, and the Toffees sit in fifth, with only goal difference separating them from Liverpool in fourth. Arsenal have won their last six home games in the league, whilst Everton have only lost one Premier League game this season. The Gunners top the Premier League form table, but Everton have proved to be a tough opponent for the league’s top sides, beating Chelsea and Manchester United. The latter was the Toffees’ latest result, and they will go into the game at the Emirates with great confidence. There is no doubt that will be an extremely interesting game at the top.
Arsenal are still without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Knee), Abou Diaby (Knee), Yaya Sanago (Back) and Ryo Miaychi (Hamstring). Forward Lukas Podolski is still a week or so away from a return after spending three months out with a hamstring injury. Mathieu Flamini (Groin) and Bacary Sagna (Hamstring) both face late fitness tests in order to be fit for the game. Everton’s injury problems are all longer term. Leighton Baines is out for six weeks after sustaining a broken foot in the game against Liverpool. Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson are both out for long periods with knee injuries. Everton are likely to be unchanged from the side that beat Manchester United.
The game itself is one of the most regular fixtures in English football. The fixture has been an ever-present in the Premier League since its inception. The teams are two of seven to never have been relegated from the Premier League. The fixture has been played in English league football season since 1954. In terms of recent history, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last twelve league fixtures against the Toffees. In this time they have won eight out of the twelve meetings, with four of those coming at the Emirates. Everton’s last away win at Arsenal came in January 1996 and it is there only away victory at Arsenal in the Premier League era. The game has ended goalless only twice, the last time the two teams met and in only their second Premier League fixture in 1993.
Mesut Özil has answered his critics with two great performances in the Premier League. The German provided two assists against Cardiff City and scored the second in midweek against Hull City. The importance of Özil is represented by the fact that he has started every game in the Premier League since his arrival.
He has been in great from too, supplying six assists and scoring three goals. Most importantly, he creates a chance for his teammates every twenty-nine minutes, which is only bettered by Manchester City’s David Silva. If the past two games are anything to go by, Özil looks to be getting into some great form heading into the Christmas period.
This is a time Arsenal will have to be at their best as they face Everton, Man City and Chelsea. Wenger will be hoping that his record signing will inspire the team to success.
Romelu Lukaku has been excellent for Everton since his loan move from Chelsea. The striker has continued the great from he showed whilst on loan last season at West Brom, and has hit the ground running since his arrival.
Lukaku has managed eight goals in nine starts, and has been instrumental in Everton’s success this season. Surprisingly, 50% of Lukaku’s goals have come from his weaker foot, in comparison to last years total of 29%. This shows the maturity of Lukaku as a player, and how clinical he has become this season.
The striker has scored four of his five clear cut chances, highlighting this fact. His shooting accuracy of 72% is the highest in the league for anybody with above five goals.
Lukaku will be very important for Everton against the Gunners, as they will need to punish any chances they are given.
It is a hard game to come up with a definitive prediction. Arsenal’s record against Everton is an incredibly strong one, but the Toffees have been in great form this season. That being said, the Gunners are in their best form for many years, so the game is sure to be a hotly contested one. Everton will have to contain Arsenal’s midfield, and the Arsenal defence will have to be wary of the threat that Lukaku provides. A 1-0 Arsenal win is my prediction for this one.