by Tony Attwood
Mr Wenger has been in upbeat mood of late, saying, for example, “When you look at the teams around us, you can see that the margin of difference between the teams has shrunk a lot. So the way you respond in every single game is absolutely vital.
“What is for sure is at the moment every game is like a cup final for everybody. We just came out of a game where we were 1-0 down and for the sixth time in the season, we come back after having been down.
“So let’s continue to focus on that, on our resilience and on our motivation and after let’s see how far we can go.”
This of course is not a bad place to put that sort of philosophy into practice, what with us having 29 wins over Everton in the Premier League and very few losses of late. Here’s the rundown – our defeat is in bold
|29 Dec 2007||Everton v Arsenal||W||1-4||Premier League|
|04 May 2008||Arsenal v Everton||W||1-0||Premier League|
|18 Oct 2008||Arsenal v Everton||W||3-1||Premier League|
|28 Jan 2009||Everton v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|15 Aug 2009||Everton v Arsenal||W||1-6||Premier League|
|09 Jan 2010||Arsenal v Everton||D||2-2||Premier League|
|14 Nov 2010||Everton v Arsenal||W||1-2||Premier League|
|01 Feb 2011||Arsenal v Everton||W||2-1||Premier League|
|10 Dec 2011||Arsenal v Everton||W||1-0||Premier League|
|21 Mar 2012||Everton v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|28 Nov 2012||Everton v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|16 Apr 2013||Arsenal v Everton||D||0-0||Premier League|
|08 Dec 2013||Arsenal v Everton||D||1-1||Premier League|
|08 Mar 2014||Arsenal v Everton||W||4-1||FA Cup|
|06 Apr 2014||Everton v Arsenal||L||3-0||Premier League|
|23 Aug 2014||Everton v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|01 Mar 2015||Arsenal v Everton||W||2-0||Premier League|
|24 Oct 2015||Arsenal v Everton||W||2-1||Premier League|
|19 Mar 2016||Everton v Arsenal||W||0-2||Premier League|
In fact we have more wins over Everton than any other Premier League side, and this is certainly one of our better runs against another PL team. It also includes the gloriously delicious 1-6 away win in 2009 when Moyes was in charge (the guy who said that the jury was still out on Ozil).
The team that day was
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
Fabregas Song Denilson Arshavin
Van Persie, Bendtner
Ramsey, Eduardo and Eboue came on as subs.
Given the improvement in our team since them days we ought to have a fighting chance of doing something more. But… despite all the reminders about how bad their recent run has been, Everton have only lost one in the last 10 games at home – a run which goes back to April.
But then again we are the only side in the PL unbeaten away from home, and it is worth remembering that our great runs under Mr Wenger began with the perfection of our away form.
In 2001/2 for example, in our dry run for the Invincibles season two years later, we were unbeaten away from home, smashing records along the way. It seems we are working on a similar approach this time – which is incidentally exactly the same way that Herbert Chapman did it. Every time he won the league (with Arsenal and Huddersfield) he did so by having an away form that was as good if not better than the home form.
We are also still chasing the 16 game unbeaten run between December 2010 and April 2011 – this would be game 15 if we do achieve that. That run started with a home win over Chelsea and ended with a 3-3 draw away to the Tiny Totts.
But now here is a funny one: Arsenal haven’t lost on a Tuesday in the Premier League since February 2006, winning 10 and drawing seven. (I found that in one of the papers – my records don’t get that bizarre.)
Want another? Well, even if not, here it is…
Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last six games against Everton.
And another (I’m getting the hang of this)…
Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 26 goals in his last 26 league appearances for Arsenal – scoring 18 and providing eight assists.
Anyway enough of the silly stats, time for the team news…
Presumably with Mustafi missing Gabriel will play in the centre. Isn’t it interesting how quickly the media has moved from “Shkodran who?” and comments about Arsenal still buying unknowns instead of proven players, into this being an utter disaster for Arsenal to lose such an influential defender.
But Mustafi and Ramsey are out with hamstring problems. However Bellerin came through Saturday’s test against the club with the most obnoxious fans in the western spiral arm of the Galaxy, so it is simply a move for Gabriel into his more natural position of centre back.
Incidentally the reports on Santi Cazorla are that his surgery went perfectly. Here’s the injury table in date return order amended from Physioroom (which always seems to publish the list in no particular order I can discern). It is good to see that Akpom has a return date…
|Player||Injury||Estimated return date|
|A Ramsey||Hamstring||December 18, 2016|
|D Welbeck||Cartilage Knee||January 1, 2017|
|S Mustafi||Hamstring||January 3, 2017|
|P Mertesacker||Knee||January 7, 2017|
|M Debuchy||Hamstring||January 14, 2017|
|C Akpom||Back||January 14, 2017|
|S Cazorla||Plantaris*||February 25, 2017|
*The plantaris is one of the superficial muscles of the superficial posterior compartment of the leg, and yes I had to ask Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, and no, I didn’t understand a single word of his explanation.
So, unless Mr Wenger springs any surprises on us the opening XI will be
Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal
Theo, Ozil, The Ox
The most likely change from the above if there is to be one is to replace Monreal with Gibbs if Mr Wenger thinks Monreal is getting a bit weary.
On the beach playing about will be Ospina, Gibbs, Elneny, Giroud, Iwobi, Holding, Perez.
Meanwhile the line up of our last ten results looks rather jolly:
W W W D W D D W W W
For Everton the list looks a little different:
L D D L W L D L D L
As for the top scorers lists that looks like this (table from soccerstats.com). This source is particularly worth noting as it includes the percentage of team goals scored by the player, the number of penalties and the number of times the player has scored the first goal (as opposed to being a player who tucks away a goal or two when the match is long since won).
In my view any team that has an entry in the percentage column that is over 40% is in danger – for an injury or loss of form for such a player could spell danger to the club. Over 50% and for me the club is on the edge of the cliff. I’ve highlighted the three clubs in this sort of position.
On the other hand players with four or more “first” goals are of great value. Interestingly Everton have in Lukaku a player in both categories. If he were to get injured where would the club be then?
|1||Diego Costa||Chelsea Soviets||11||33%||0||3|
|3||Sergio Aguero||Manchester Airport||10||31%||3||5|
|5||Christian Benteke||Crystal Palace||8||30%||2||2|
|5||Eden Hazard||Chelsea Soviets||8||24%||1||4|
|5||Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Manchester Mo||8||40%||1||2|
|9||Harry Kane||Tiny Totts||7||29%||3||2|
As for the Psychological Factor:
Coming back from a goal down always gives the team a boost, especially when it means knocking back the worst supporters known to football. So that’s another bonus to us; we simply will not be beaten.
And at the same time we saw Liverpool! lose their exclamation mark, the Tiny Totts get even tinier, and Manchester Airport come off the runway. Another positive.
The players also saw one of the most appalling displays in the history of the Premier League by a referee and yet we still won and that will have given them yet another push.
And the Arsenal players will know that we have only lost one of the last 18 against Everton.
As for Everton in the psychological analysis, they have their positive home record to cling on to, but if they were to take the lead they would most certainly drop back, while Arsenal would just say “ok, we know how to handle this one,” and get ready to do what they have done six times before.
I’d say that for this game the psychological factors are totally with Arsenal.
Arsenal v Everton and other recent tales