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Arsenal v Everton: the Untold Preview

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Victory Through Harmony

After a tight win over Huddlesfield, it’s a single days rest and then we’re back to it versus Everton. There was plenty of criticism of Wenger’s decision to play Nasri once it came out that his injury would likely cost him his place against Barcelona.  Personally I think it’s just one of those things. Wenger confirmed he wouldn’t have played had Rosicky been fit and given how tight the match was we couldn’t really have afforded make many more changes.

We were already playing Diaby who was short of match fitness after his recent injury, so an unfit Rosicky in the middle would’ve been a disaster in the making. The timetabling of Sunday’s game and then Everton on Tuesday made the rotation a necessity and it was just bad luck that Nasri played and ended up injured.

For the Everton game we’re without Nasri, while Squillaci is suspended. Sagna should be back and fit to start after his concussion but Fabianski remains out with a shoulder problem. Long term injury victim Vermaelen is of course out of this tie, though should be on the road to recovery now.

Everton on the other hand will likely be without their key man Cahill, who was participating in the Asian Cup until recently. Lengthy flights from the Middle East will likely rule him out this tie, though he is their only key absentee. Saha may or may not be a doubt, but good old University internet is convinced the Everton official website is actually a casino site so forbids me to enter it, so I can’t confirm that one way or another.

Sczcnesy

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Song Wilshere

Fabregas

Walcott Van Persie Rosicky/Bendtner

Sczcnesy returns in goal, with Sagna and Clichy coming in for Gibbs and Eboue at fullback. Djourou replaces the suspended Squillaci leaving Koscielny as the only constant of the back five. Koscielny has played an incredible number of games recently but through lack of other options we haven’t been able to rotate him. Squillaci’s ban comes at a bad time but is fortunately only a single match. Song and Wilshere return in front of the back four, with match winner Fabregas taking up his usually position in midfield.

After an FA Cup breather Walcott and Van Persie return to the starting eleven, leaving the only question mark around the left side. Both Arshavin and Bendtner played the full ninety minutes on Sunday, which surely limits them to just the bench. I doubt Arshavin’s fitness could cope with the lack of rest, and playing them would just be asking for a muscle injury due to fatigue. That said Bendtner has experience of playing out wide – albeit on the right – but could well thrive cutting inside onto his right foot to shoot. It might rob us of a bit of width, but his link-up play is good. Vela’s out on loan otherwise I would have started him here, which leaves Rosicky.

Rosicky is generally treated with caution given his injury record over the last couple of seasons, and having played more than half of Sunday’s game Wenger might not want to risk him either. While he played on the left early on in his Arsenal career, that was a left midfield position as opposed to an inside forward set-up on that flank. Inside forward demands a lot of penetration from the player, the ability to beat a man, score and play the killer passes.

While Rosicky can do some of that, he can’t do it all and it may be too much to ask given he may not be 100% match fit after his illness. It is certainly a tough call for Wenger to make.

What can we expect from Everton? Well, they played a full strength team against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday, so they’re going to be less rested than most of our starters. That will certainly have an have an impact, with the visitors likely to have plenty of running to do in this game.

The Chelsea match was a bit of strange one, with Rodwell playing an unfamiliar role off Saha in the absence of Cahill.  Left back Baines has been the subject of many recent rumours off the back of an impressive season and will need to be watched when he goes forward. I feel our default line-up will deal quite well with his threat; much of the plaudits have come based off of his offensive play yet he simply won’t be able to join the Everton attach as often as he’d like, given Theo’s pace on his flank. I’d expect this to force him to play deeper than he normally would, much to our benefit.

Their right flank will be fairly solid, with Coleman and Neville both effective defensive players. We won’t get much joy down there, especially with what is likely to be a makeshift wide-man playing there. The focus will be on the middle and counter attacking on the right, using pace to get at their fairly slow centrebacks. Set pieces could be a concern. Even without Cahill they have an aerially-potent squad, with Heitinga, Fellaini and Distin.

Everton strike me as a team going in circles. They don’t seem to have much money at all, and David Moyes’ heart doesn’t seem to be in it any more. Last season they started poorly and then put together an excellent run of games to get back into the upper echelons of the table, but such a run doesn’t seem likely this season. Demoralised and with reinforcements looking unlikely, this Everton side like a shadow of the sides that battled for every point these last few seasons. I’m going to go for a relatively comfortable 2-0 to the Arsenal. We’ll miss Nasri’s cutting edge on the flank, but overall we’ll have more than enough to beat Everton comfortably. I don’t expect them to create too much bar from free kicks, we should control the midfield fairly easily.

Snooping around the Everton blogs

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13 comments to Arsenal v Everton: the Untold Preview

  • critic

    gibbs and clichy on left side, switching their defensive duties, could have been another potent option but it would be again a gamble as we can’t take chances with gibbs fitness. Important thing will be not to lose another player.

  • Jonny

    I’d play Theo on the left and Bendtner on the right. I think I’m right in saying he has played there before in the past..?

    Regardless Theo cutting in on to his right would be a more enticing proposition for me.

  • Richard B

    Jonny – Theo played on the left a lot for the U21’s, very successfully. He’s never started there for Arsenal but has been switched over from the right during some games and has scored from that position. I can’t see Bendtner starting so it may have to be Rosicky with a replacement after an hour. Gibbs could be that man but only if we’re winning.

  • JohnW

    Everton are a difficult side. I think it will be 2-1, but regardless I can take a 1-0 win or indeed any win so long as it earns three points (or more, heh!)

  • Dark Prince

    Any win will be acceptable today. Also what we need to avoid now is injuries. We have entered that Feb/March phase where we normally have lots of injuries and end up loosing in all our competitions. Hopefully we can avoid it this time.

  • Ingo Marchand

    samir could have picked up an injury in training also, maybe it was supposed to happen anyway.
    untold is the only blog worth reading on here for me. there far too many want to be managers out there who know better. working as dishwashers in real life ofc
    in arsene we trust

  • There is no point to criticise Wenger on Nasri’s injury as said above he could have done it in traning.

    I think their left flank will actually be stronger than their right flank and to be honest I d rather see Bendtner on the left and Theo on the right, anyway, I am with you on the final score 2-0

  • mohammed assefa

    I totally agree with d line-up bur its better 2 play arshavin at d left flank.He was coming 2 d ball as we ve seen him last match.
    I think d only problem could be set pieces as far as everton is concerned though they are really good team 2 see.D final resul ‘d be 3 to 1 for the home side.
    ALWAYS EVER YOUNG GOONERS!!

  • Phil

    I can’t see us moving Theo, who comes in on the right? Nik’s likely to be knackered, and I’d rather have Theo in his best position. Looking forward to the game !

  • Wrenny

    I would definitely go with Bendtner on the left, he’s dangerous cutting in onto his right foot. Didn’t the Denmark manager say recently how left wing was a good position for him? Theo getting behind them on the right, Bendtner cutting in from the left, I like the thought of that.

    It’s a shame about Nasri, but with 5 of our front 6 playing we should have way too much for Everton to deal with. And Vermaelen apart, it will be a first-choice back five too.

    Interesting idea about Gibbs on the left wing, he’s come off the bench and played there a couple of times this season. But with his injury issues and the 90 minutes he put in on Sunday it’s not a possibility for tonight’s match.

  • Tee Song

    Pretty big conundrum for the L forward position. I simply can’t see Arshavin starting. He’s often subbed when he does start and he played the full 90 just two days before. Rosicky played almost 60′ and is coming back from illness. Bendtner played 90′ and Chamakh played 45′. Diaby has played on the left of midfield and is decent enough going forward but is coming back from injury and played over an hour. Vela’s off on loan. CLEARLY, someone will have to play on 48 hours rest. I would opt for Rosicky and plan on substituting on 60′ or even at halftime depending on his fitness and the game situation–Arshavin if we’re still (hopefully not) chasing the game and perhaps Chamakh or Diaby if we’re up. With RvP, Theo, and Cesc we have enough in form goal scorers and Tomas is intellegent and links well Cesc and RvP. Our scoring threat is so dependent on the intricate, quick interplay of our attackers and Rosicky, even without his shooting boots, can provide that.

  • ugandan goon

    i share your concerns about cover on the left wing, leighton baines /coleman have both come on since last season and i can imagine david moyes is going to try and target our percieved weakness i.e counter attack via the wing while either clichy/ sagna are committed upfront, i noticed it is back in vogue for the lone striker to target the space behind our left back as soon as clichy/ gibbs gets sucked into the attack.
    i wonder if eboue is an option, there is always a chance that he would get something out of neville, but hey i am not the weng, lets see what cunning plan he will come up with.
    enjoy the match wherever you are, UP THE ARSENAL!!!!!1

  • Tee Song

    Another option, if one is concerned with Rosicky’s fitness (and who isn’t) would involve switching the formation to something like 4-4-1-1 with Chamakh up top, RvP in a free role behind and Theo dropping into the right of midfield along with Jack on the left and Song and Cesc central and playing deep. The problem I see with that is I’m sure Everton will drop a forward and play a 4-5-1 and try to press the midfield leaving Song and Cesc 2 v 3. If we’re losing that battle it would force Wilshere to tuck in centrally which might leave Clichy somewhat isolated. Offensively, RvP is very good at dropping deep to help out the midfield but I’m not sure he’s up to the defensive requirements of playing there and we might have to alter our pressing structure to accommodate him in that position. Oh well, I’m sure Arsene will have thought long and hard about this and I’m glad he’s being paid the big bucks to make the actual decisions.