Everton (Goodison Park)
Saturday 29th December 2007
Kick Off: 5.15pm – Live On Setanta Sports 1
Tomorrow Arsenal will travel up to another cold North West away day and face Everton, who are currently in a rich vain of form of late.
They have only lost one of their last nine Premier League fixtures, and that was only because Steven Pienaar had a rush of blood and committed a simply crazy ‘tackle’ on Ryan Giggs with only minutes remaining.
The fact is Everton are going to be incredibly tough to beat tomorrow, which is what Arsenal will need to keep the pressure on Manchester United at the top. Don’t forget, this Everton side came from behind at Old Trafford, and did the same at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal will need a performance similar to those earlier on in the season.
Unfortunately, we haven’t reached our peak in terms of an attacking performance enough in December.
The only decent game we’ve had in December was the Chelsea game at home, where we looked to have our old rhythm back with Hleb, Fabregas and Flamini returning. And then there was the first half at Villa Park.
Against Pompy, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Spurs we’ve looked tired.
Of course, it has been a demanding schedule on the players but to win the league or at least fight for it teams have to overcome this hurdle. United still keep managing to win matches, albeit it you could argue easier fixtures – but nevertheless they get the three points.
I have commented on the poor form of Arsenal and against Spurs it was encouraging that they managed to win a game without playing particuarly well, but the problem we have is against Newcastle, Pompy and Boro we’ve played badly but failed to win those games. And call me pessimistic but I just can’t see Arsenal going out and out-performing Everton tomorrow, simply because Everton know how to make the game a dogfight and David Moyles will have no problems if he can get a result by forcing Arsenal out of the game.
And if a team like Pompy want to defend for 90 minutes then you can expect the same from Everton too.
So this is going to be an intriguing encounter.
We keep on saying it but on these tough away games Arsenal need to score, and need to score early. That’s the only way the other team will come out and give Arsenal space to play their football.
So the question is will Everton come out and play or defend in numbers?
I don’t think you can expect anything more than the latter, so Arsenal will have to dig deep yet again and try to steal the 3 points.