The blue half of Merseyside are the visitors on Sunday as we bid to extend our lead at the top, and boy is it good to be able to say that. After the nightmare start we had to endure against Aston Villa on the opening day, to be able to sit and preview a game with the possibility of going seven points clear at the top, and being able to include Mesut Ozil in my preview, is almost unbelievable.
Both teams come into this game in incredible form; we’re top of the league and have won our last four, and Everton are in fifth and won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1992 on Wednesday. Bar Manchester City, this is probably the meeting of the two most in form teams in the league at this point in time, with Martinez, who’s appointment I was not convinced by, proving his managerial credentials with the signings of Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry.
This really is a different Everton to that of Moyes’s team last year; instead of a tall, stupid haired midfielder who has a fetish for elbowing people lumbering along in the centre of the park, Everton possess real pace and flair. Ross Barkley and James McCarthy are both good, young players, with the former forcing his way into the England squad as a result of his performances, and instead of a misfiring Nikica Jelavic leading the line up front, they have one of the world’s best young strikers in Lukaku. Martinez really has turned this team from the lower half of Merseyside into genuine, realistic Champions League hopefuls, illustrating how this isn’t just a routine league match before games against Manchester City and Chelsea, this is a big, big match in its own right, just ask Chelsea how they got on earlier in the season.
However, despite their obvious quality, it is still a fact that anything other than three points, especially it being at the Emirates, would be a disappointment. As I’ve said before this season, it is exactly this sort of game, a game against a team with very different aspirations to our own, that we have to win in order to be crowned champions in May. Unlike what Shearer and the rest of his Match of the Day nitwits think, I truly believe that this Arsenal team can win the league, but it’s games like this where our team have to prove us right.
Here’s how I think we will line up:
Jenkinson Mertersacker Koscielny Gibbs
Wilshere Ozil Walcott
After coming on against Hull in the week, I fancy Theo to start in this one. Cazorla has failed to reach the heights of last season and Walcott will give us that new outlet and pace to get at Everton, as opposed to the little Spaniard trying to dance his way through. After Wenger confirmed Sagna will miss the game and the trip to Napoli, Jenkinson will continue his stint in the team at right back, where he was very impressive against Hull on Wednesday. This is a real chance for him to re-establish himself in the team after his mistakes against Chelsea, and a chance I expect him to grab with both hands.
This really could be a huge weekend in the title race. As I sit here writing this, Manchester City have drawn and Chelsea have lost to Stoke, giving us the real, genuine possibility of going seven points clear, meaning that even if we lost to the pair of them in our fixtures after tomorrow, we will still be a points clear at the top. Now it’s over to Arsene and the lads in red to bring us home the points, and with it, a shot at the title!
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Giroud to get the opener and Walcott to score off the bench,
COME ON YOU GOONERS!!!