Arsenal vs Everton

, 7 December, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
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32 goals were scored in the Premier League on Wednesday evening but there can surely be no argument over which one of them was greeted with the most elation. With one sweep of his left leg, Bryan Oviedo brought an end to one of Everton's most enduring and frustrating hoodoos with the goal that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, the first victory for the Blues there in over 21 years.

While the Costa Rican may have supplied the killer blow, capping a fine personal performance in what was his sternest examination yet since his move to England in August last year, it was a famous win earned by all 14 players involved and, of course, the increasingly admirable leadership of Roberto Martinez.

It has been worn to the point of cliche over the past three days but it bears repeating that the Spaniard managed in one game what his predecessor could not in 11 years and 46 attempts, testament to the mentality and style of play that he has brought to Goodison in such a short space of time.

And by a twist of the fixture calendar, Martinez will get an immediate opportunity this weekend to end another long-lived curse when Everton take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium for a fixture that the Blues have not won since Andrei Kanchelskis belted home the winner for Joe Royle in the 1995-96 season.

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They came close under David Moyes — agonisingly close — four years ago when an underrated wonder goal by Steven Pienaar — a highlight that young Gerard Deulofeu would do well to watch prior to the trip down south... hell, the kid from Barca should just watch how deadly Andrei was in one-on-one situations! — looked to have sealed a superb win, only for Tomas Rosicky to ruin it all a couple of minutes from time with a deflected goal off the despairing leg of Lucas Neill.

From memory, they played with a fair bit of swagger that day and the events down the East Lancs Road on Wednesday, coming on the back of a really impressive start to life under Martinez, have Evertonians buzzing about the team's prospects on Sunday.

They meet an Arsenal side that has galloped out to a good lead in the race for Premier League title on the back of mesmerising form, though. Since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa — the one that had infuriated Cockneys screaming into the nearest camera about how the Board had failed them and how Arsene Wenger should have been sacked for his failure to sign anyone over the summer — the Gunners have lost just once, at Man Utd interestingly enough, and sit four points clear at the top of the table.

Though the acquisition of Mezut zil was a brilliant piece of business and a vital part of any team's jigsaw, something has clearly clicked for Arsenal this season — that combination of potent attacking football, confidence, and the rhythm that comes from winning matches.

That will make them formidable opponents but, as Villa and Borussia Dortmund have already proved, not infallible and Martinez's Everton are building up a similarly impressive head of steam, albeit it one undermined a little by the three draws that preceded the momentous events at Old Trafford in midweek.

Nevertheless, while a second successive win on a ground on which we have barely dared to dream of winning in recent memory is obviously the goal and the hope, a point from this one would not be a bad result at all.

If he lives up to his promise, though, Martinez will be unflinching in his desire to go to the Emirates with the aim of winning and with no injury or disciplinary concerns to have come out Wednesday, he could field the same team that started against United. It's not clear how great a physical toll that effort took, though, and the manager may take fatigue, perhaps to the likes of Steven Pienaar, into consideration when he chooses his line-up.

As far as the approach goes, the game promises more of the same need for closing down the space in front of the back four and keeping things tight across the back line to prevent the opposition playing through as in midweek. Arsenal are likely to be more dangerous and potent going forward than Man Utd were, though, and it will take another stellar performance from the defensive six to extend that terrific record of eight clean sheets to nine.

Of course, Everton have firepower and incisiveness of their own these days and one phenomenal performance from back to front that catches Wenger's men by surprise and we could be toasting another amazing victory. They couldn't, could they?!

Kick off: 4pm
Referee: Howard Webb

Quotes or other material sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports

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