This’ll be the first time we’ve faced Everton under Roberto Martinez. We’ve had a few troubles against Martinez’s Wigan sides down the years and he’s used very good tactics when facing us and we’ve come un-done both at home and away. This time we’re at home and we’ll be facing him whilst he’s got a better squad. Despite having difficult games against Everton previously we’ve not lost to them in our last 12 League matches. Winning eight and therefore drawing four. That record extends in home games in which we haven’t lost in our last 17 meetings against the toffees. This game also suggests that there won’t be many goals and considering both team’s defensive records recently there probably won’t be many goals this time around either.
Everton have only lost once in the Premier League this season, that’s the least amount of times than other side so they will be a tough side to get one over on. I think we’ll have the majority of the possession and as long as we keep Lukaku at bay we should be OK defensively. Both sides are good on the counter attack so as the game goes on I expect it to become more stretched. Expect a close first half with limited chances but in the second half I reckon it’ll be a different story. Mirallas will be a player we’ll need to keep an eye on if he starts, likewise with Gerard Deulofeu. Ross Barkley’s battle with either Ramsey or Wilshere in the middle of the park could be an interesting watch too.
In order to stop Everton’s attacking threat it may be a good idea to start with Mathieu Flamini who might be able to get into the face of Barkley from the beginning. This would hopefully stop his confident approach and would help us to dictate the tempo more. However I think we’ll play with a similar line-up as to the one that played against Cardiff. That’s with the exception of Sagna who remains out with a hamstring problem. Theo Walcott is yet to start since his return but he usually puts in good performances against the Toffees so he may get a chance in this game or Napoli in the week in the Champions League. Santi Cazorla hasn’t been in the best of form recently so it may be a good opportunity to give Walcott a go instead.
My line-up: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud.
As mentioned at the beginning of the preview, this starts a run of tough fixtures throughout the Christmas period and will be a real test. If we can get points from all of our next 3 League games then it’ll be a real statement of intent and will finally get the pundits to realise that we are in fact ‘proper’ title contenders. Something that I’m sure we’re all desperate to hear.