By Avenell Dave
So after ten long days, Arsenal are finally back in action this evening and for what I suspect will be one of the two toughest away games we have left (the other being Stoke).
Everton are a curious team – one game they’re capable of beating us and stifling our passing game and the next they fall apart and lose heavily.
We’ve had some fine results against them in the past and after their collapse against Liverpool (albeit away) last week, we should be confident of beating them.
The squad is as fit as we could hope for, barring the long term injuries and they have some key players injured such as Rodwell, Coleman and Gibson.
It’s five years since they’ve beaten us at their place and you have to wonder how much David Moyes is focused on the FA Cup. It’s all well and good talking about momentum, something that even Arsene Wenger could learn to remember, but Moyes rested key players last week before the Sunderland game that his side drew.
Mikel Arteta is back at his former club and I can’t see any reason why he won’t be welcomed until the whistle blows.
What we have to get into the habit of doing – and it’s something that continually worries me – is keeping a clean sheet.
Of course it’s lovely to score plenty of goals and at the moment, even when we go behind we seem capable of turning things around.
I don’t want to go back to the dark old days towards the end of George Graham’s reign when we expected Ian Wright to get us out of jail and we had nothing and no one else capable of contributing. We have other players who can score goals, after all.
But ensuring we don’t concede means that the home side will have to push forward and that creates gaps that we can further exploit. The counter-atatck style is back, after all, and how we missed it.
Everton are at home and the fans are getting restless, so they’ll be up for this.
In Steven Pienaar and Royston Drenthe, they have attacking players who can hurt us and Arteta and Alex Song will have to stifle them in midfield.
I haven’t forgotten how often Phil Neville used to hack our players to bits when he was at M*nure and he’s capable of nobbling RvP at any point.
If things go our way tonight, we could find ourselves in third, having left the Ch*vs and T*tt*nh*m behind. Go badly and we could find ourselves back in fifth place.
Would a point be good enough?
At this stage of the season, we need as many wins as we can get, especially with the Ch*vs and Citeh still to play and if we take it for granted that we will win tonight, we’ll be in trouble.
A final word: pray that Laurent Koscielny doesn’t get booked. I think he’s one booking away from a suspension and with Per Mertesacker out for the season, the prospect of Squillaci or Djourou taking the field fills me with dread.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Song Rosicky Arteta
Oxlade-Chamberlain RvP Walcott