Arsenal-Everton: Match Preview, Predicted Line-ups. The End of Arsenal’s Toughest Week or

The start of something new and better?  Time to sift through the ashes and see what we can accomplish.

Tough times for the Arsenal but at least we have another game!

It’s at Everton, who are well rested and flying high after booking their tickets to Wembley with a hard fought 2-nil victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup Quarterfinals last Saturday.

Arsenal have taken a different, rather more tragic trajectory.  A day later, last Sunday, our quest for a 3rd straight FA Cup came to an end losing at home to Watford.  On Wednesday night, at Barcelona, we exited another tournament, the Champions League.  Now we face our 3rd match in just six days.

With nine matches remaining in the league and finding ourselves eleven points behind league leaders Leicester City, we know the task at hand.  All we can do is try our best to win our remaining matches and hope Leicester (and Spurs, six points ahead of us) stumble.  Let’s get ‘er done (as we say over here in the States).  What better than a lunchtime kickoff?

Everton have had a tough season themselves, especially in front of their home support at Goodison Park.  Beating Chelsea, with two late goals from the striker cast down their way from the wealthier team in blue, Romelu Lukaku, had to be very, very sweet.  Can they build upon that win and take down another “big” team from the capital or will the nerves of the Evertonians come to the fore?  They lost their last two home league matches (to West Ham, 2-3 and West Brom 1-nil) and only have one win from their last six.  Could they also have just a bit less fight knowing they’re safe from relegation but too far back for European consideration?

What about Arsenal, are we really to believe Mesut Ozil and others who suggest we can build something over our remaining nine league matches, all that we have left to play?  It really all depends on whether or not this bare bones Arsenal team can dig deep and build upon the positives in their play, which, results notwithstanding, actually might exist.   (See the previous post here on Bergkampesque, for example.)

The alternative, giving into the narrative of failure, while tempting, must be resisted.  For this match we don’t have a new manager, we don’t have new players and we don’t have any other easy solutions.  Do we dig the pit of our misery even deeper or do we dare to climb to its edge and take a peek at some sunlight?

I opt for the latter.

The two guys in the photo–goalscorer Mohamed Elneny and our captain on the night, Laurent Koscielny, as well as the other nine who will start at Everton (plus our three subs, if we use them) will need to lift a very depressed and despondent planet full of Gooners.  Many already seem willing to throw in the towel, blame manager Arsene Wenger (the man most responsible, perhaps, for making Arsenal a team with a global fan-base) and start fresh. No such luck.  There’s a match to win.


It’s a question that will be very difficult to answer.  We need players who are coming into form rather than breaking down under the physical and psychological strain of the games and their gloomy narratives.  My hunch is that Wenger will go with the same group in defense and midfield that finished at Barcelona, thus changing only Francis Coquelin for our most recently injured midfielder, Mathieu Flamini, among the rear-most seven starters.

The real question is up front.  Alex Iwobi, although he played extremely well and looks a bright prospect, will take a bench seat, I think.  I’m also guessing Wenger will go with Olivier Giroud as his #9 but carry on with Danny Welbeck, Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as a very fluid but interchanging attacking midfield three just in behind big Ollie.  The big man will be needed at set pieces and as a target and hold up guy.  I expect him to often come back towards the center circle and try to win balls and advance them quickly forward to the pacier finishers. It looks like this:

Subs: Macey, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs, Iwobi, Campbell, Walcott

As always that’s just my guess at what Wenger is thinking.  Please share yours.

Despite sitting in the bottom half of the table, Everton are a good team with many fine players.  Guys like Lukaku and Ross Barkley, not to mention defenders such as John Stones, Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori combine size and power with skill and technique.  Do we want more big guys to start the match (the Big Friendly German, Mertesacker, for example) in order to thwart them or do we worry more about their smaller, pacier guys like Gerard Delofeu, Arouna Kone, Aaron Lennon and Seamus Coleman?  It will be interesting to see how their manager, Roberto Martinez, tries to set them up for this one. He’s won’t have Kevin Mirallas nor Gareth Barry available due to suspension but otherwise he’s got a lot of options compared to our injury ravaged squad.

With anchor-man Barry unavailable (likely replaced by a Muhamed of their own, the Bosnian Besic) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martinez try to play a very wide game using Coleman and Leighton Baines as fullbacks with Lukaku as their main target man in both open play and at set pieces.  As such, getting on the right side of referee Mark Clattenburg, the guy who sent off Mertesacker in a one-nil home loss to Chelsea back in February, could be another deciding factor.

Getting on top early in this match is critical as it will test the commitment and nerve of the opponent.  No matter what, however, this Arsenal team must respond to what has been happening and whatever will happen on the pitch.  Belief and determination–expressed as action–is the only thing which we can do to turn this recent run of abysmal results around and build something over these final couple of months.

Let’s do it, I say.  A win in the first match of the weekend would be just what the doctor ordered–for watching the remaining matches and enduring the two weeks off for International friendlies.  So, one more (MASSIVE) push, then a little rest, relaxation and (even more) rebuilding.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace





28 thoughts on “Arsenal-Everton: Match Preview, Predicted Line-ups. The End of Arsenal’s Toughest Week or

  • As a loyal supporter for sixty plus years, I am never confident of our performances,certainly this season.this Everton game I cannot see them winning.I saw them on tv last week and they are a very strong side. Lukas is awesome!!!! Fingers crossed

  • 17h,

    You really are gifted.

    I was entranced by your per-match Post – both the directness and the intelligence about the situation facing Arsenal.

    First class, sir. 😀

  • Well written 17ht. This is it I guess. Anything short of a win and we can forget any chance of the title. Difficult to disagree with your team. I would however play Welbeck up front and swap Iwobi for Giroud.
    If we lose Saturday lunchtime, it makes for a miserable weekend. So here’s hoping

  • And by the way, 17h, you are right – many are expecting to lose to the Lukaku inspired Everton, but I am not – this is football and altho it is possible to lose, it is equally possible that we will win, and to go thru the next fortnight on the back of a win would be rather ……. nice! 😀

  • Super stuff once again, Seventeenho. Love that line up and you are most likely to be bang on the money with it. I expect BFG to start though but happy to see the Vault of KoGa to commence the game.

  • Great intro HT. This is a game the players turn up for or we give up any hopes in the league and turn our attention to surviving in the top 4. Tiredness aside I hope there is more than enough incentive in there for us to show a committed performance tomorrow.

    You’ve gone with a pretty settled side, which has been Wenger’s preference of recent years. There are a few questions in here for me, if no stand out cases. I’m not sure what the position is around Mert at the moment – has Wenger really bumped him down the pecking order, or is he selecting for the opposition? Gabby is great, but he has more errors in him for me than Mert. So my assumption tomorrow, unless there has been a tipping point reached for Wenger, is that Mert;Kos start if both are fit and ok.

    The pivot probably has to be as you suggest, though Elneny has put in one hell of a shift in the last week. Coq must start. Is there an alternative to Elneny? probably not really. Might Iwobi play in this spot with Coq providing the cover?

    I agree with you about Giroud up front, and Ozil and Sanchez must play as our best players. Danny is the other question in my mind though. Just back from injury and putting in a lot of work. Is there risk of over-playing him right now? I do wonder about Campbell starting tomorrow, With Danny and Walcott on the bench.

    So my punt would be as you have selected, but with Mert and Campbell for Gabby and Danny. Not many fresh legs in there however so we will surely need to make use of the bench tomorrow.

    Few teams have been so inconsistent as Everton this season. Having the privilege of going to this game tomorrow with TA, I can only hope this proves to an off day for the toffees and one where we can start a late season run. We are not out of it yet if we can show form and remind those above us that we are chasing. COYG!!!!

  • You done it again, HT.

    I believe 3 matches in 6 days amongst other considerations will influence the team selection. Gabriel, Alexis and Ozil are the three players that have played every minute of the last two matches. Of the three Ozil has had the longest season so I expect him to start on the bench. Per being a viable replacement for Gabby, returns. Alexis cushioned by 2 months injury break, plays.

    Everton is an attacking team and our situation demands we play for wins. Goals are guaranteed in this match.


    Subs: Macey, Chambers, Gab, Gibs, Ozil, Iwobi, Walcott.

    Alexis at #10 is a high risk, high dividend ploy. Many turnovers, energetic tracking back, and plenty of provocative box action!

  • Or will Lukaku’s pace force Wenger to play Gabriel again? Well, remember that both Gabby and Kos lag Per in defensive organization, and on creative passing out of th ball from the rear. Will Gabby’s fatigued state lead him to greater rashness? Decisions, always, are so delicately balanced. Per for today for me.

  • That is the spirit HT. Shake off the doom and gloom, for a while at least, and get those positive vibes going. Top preview.

    However, as you point out, it will not be easy … even with a full week of rest. But Everton are not as consistent as their last result suggests they should be? I also think they will miss Barry’s industry behind their strike force.
    You are right to suggest that they will play the ‘wide’ card, which is one of their strengths. Which is why I repeat my hope that we get a second tackler in that DM pivot, and Chambers would be my choice, adding height as well as a bit of pace. I would save Elneny and Iwobi for the last 20 minutes. Alternatively, push hard early with that pair, still with Chambers and Coquelin at DM, and rest Ozil and Giroud?
    Another balancing act is the help that Giroud gives the defence, against the pace needed to counter attack them. I go with the latter simply because of Giroud not being that good, except when he is in the opposition box, whereas, Alexis, Welbeck, and Iwobi are dangerous anywhere across the front?
    Now whether you save that for the end by keeping it tight for the first hour, or try for early goals and hang on, is another discussion point?

    Following on from that is the question as to how Bellerin is going to be used? If he attacks he may be able to keep his opposite number from pressing too high up the pitch. But that can lead to Merterscker, if he starts, being exposed to the pace of Lukaku, and others. Monreal has better cover on his side, with Kos able to step out a the first sign of danger, and that is also Coquelin’s strongest side(imo). As you know, I am not a fan of the Campbell/Bellerin combo, in defence or attack, but if Alexis sticks primarily to the right side, and Campbell on the left, that might work better?
    … And following on from that, the Gabby or Mert decision is a big one. if we play deep, and counter, then Per is a better bet. Less space for pace to count against him, but his organising at set pieces needs to be better that was the case for the first Watford goal?

    So over to you AW, make a good jigsaw with all those alternative pieces if you can please?

    Btw, I have no worries over Clattenburg being the ref today. In fact before a ball is played, it is a big positive over the alternatives. Even Per did not argue over his sending off, so don’t hold that against him. Gabriel is a worry if he panics, but I think he will be fine if we play a ‘high line’ ?

    Get over this hurdle, and we will be on the same terms as the teams from Leicester down. By that I mean only have one objective with our remaining games. Everton players, if not in this game, will soon have ‘not getting injured’ at the back of their minds if they want to play at Wembley(twice), so if they are chasing the game …. who knows?

    That is my two penn’orth.
    p.s. Sorry to hear you are still having health issues RA. If you are anything like me, that Chinese treatment that can help you live to 200 years sounds good, but personally I don’t fancy another 130 years of what I have now! 😀 😀 😀
    All the best.

  • Great post HT, sets us up for a seminal day in this rather mixed season…

    I thought that Gibbs might get a run-out, but that looks a strong XI

    Total, AB, I hope you enjoy your visit to Goodison, it’s a great old-fashioned, traditional English stadium…
    I always go into the adjoining church hall and have a cuppa and a piece of home-made fruit cake whilst chatting to the Scousers about the game and football in general.

  • Everton (4-2-3-1) Robles; Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines; McCarthy, Besic; Lennon, Barkley, Cleverley, Lukaku.

    Subs: Stones, Kone, Niasse, Deulofeu, Osman, Howard, Galloway.

    Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Ospina; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck. Subs: Gibbs, Mertesacker, Giroud, Walcott, Chambers, Campbell, Macey.

    Referee Mark Clattenburg

    Iwobi in ahead of our much better paid strikers…very interesting and maybe very fluid set-up…

    Cheers to all who enjoyed the preview…

  • I like the line up. Welbz is very good at stretching defenses gIving his mates spaces to move into. I expect end to end stuff.

  • Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi.

    2-0 to the golden Gunners…

    Excellent first 45…

    Now let’s see the boys put another quality half…

  • Much needed result…and we seemed well resolved… Everton, however, were very poor on the day. Guys like Iwobi, Welbeck Bellerin and Elneny seem to be enjoying their football which rubs off on the rest of the group… Committed performances all through the park esp. compared to the frustrated efforts of the opponent, I thought…

    Ospina getting crashed and Ozil stomped late on is a reminder of just how thin the squad is right now… Hopefully we get some rest and, ideally, a body or two back, over the break…

    Looking forward to at the match reports from TA and AB…

  • A massive result…

    Where there’s life, there’s hope…

    Now if Crystal Palace can do us a favour?

  • Another great performance by the team, and sweet victory. Eln the right deal, Welbz our offensive lubricant, Gabby steel in the spine, Iwobi what guts!

  • Yes great result and the boys did good. Must admit it was squeaky bum time when Ospina got injured. What a good player he is. As far as I am aware he hardly complains and rarely lets the side down. Big favour needed from Palace and Bournemouth. If Spurs and Leicester start to drop points, they might just lose their bottle.

  • I’ve promised TA that I will write up my reflections on today’s game, but a quick line here to say what a fantastic day today was, to meet up with TA and to see the boys turn on a show of energy, effort and quality, all after 2 previous games in the last 6 days. It was a real treat and only serves to remind me how special our club and team is, and how important it is to have a balanced perspective on a site like this, rather than one prone to the usual hysteria that comes with every sporting setback. I will write more in due course, but I hope others on this site are basking in a similar warm glow from today’s positive bounce.

  • It was great to meet you AB and what a fine game we watched! great atmosphere at and outside the ground in a city that breathes football and great to analyse the game together afterwards. 🙂

  • Amazing just how much less there is to say after an Arsenal win ( 😦 ) but maybe folks are waiting for the man (men…) at the match report(s)… I know I am… 😀

    The international break, I guess, also gives us time to get back into the bigger plans for a new manager and (5, 10 or 15…) new players… Just gotta hope the owner doesn’t choose to move the team over the summer…

    It’s a shame that Leicester seem able to eke out these 1-nil results week after week… Would love to see Totts drop points after barely showing up vs Dortmund in the Europa League…Seems a big ask for Bournemouth, however…

    They’re bigging up these Sunday derbies here on the Stateside telly…And announcing that Mourinho has signed a “pre-contract” with ManU… So, on top of his continued salary from Chelsea, he also gets payments to ‘remain available’ from United. It’s all disgusting to me, but exactly what many Arsenal fans would prefer for our club… I guess Jose truly is a “winner…”

    Anyhow, if anybody has anything to talk about, I’m around… 😀

  • Pool lose, giving up a two goal lead at the break…No such luck for Spurs…

    Manc derby goes to Mourinho’s new club… City now just 1 pt ahead of them and West Ham for 4th…

    Alright, then, cheers for the chat… Damn that Arsenal, winning a match and chasing everybody off…

  • 17ht. We are all in shock after the team turned up and played. It’s left everyone dumbstruck. As you suggested I was waiting for the match report. Not sure if you can access the Bergkampesque G mail account, but I plotted out how we can still win the league and sent it to T A if you are interested in my ramblings

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    It was a good victory yesterday. Every line of the team worked well – from the defence that both kept Lukaku away from dangerous positions in our box and didn’t get drawn wide so that he could dazzle past our defenders like he had done against Chelsea in FA Cup to our midfield and attack that were sharp enough to win us the game. Welbeck’s and Iwobi’s pace were our main strength once again. Let’s see what we can do in the remaining eight games. It’s easy to draw a lot of positives from yesterday’s performance – a clean sheet for Ospina, an assist for Bellerin, Gabriel the Braveheart, Coquelin the Enforcer, Iwobi the Scorer, Welbeck the Quickfeet, Alexis the Assistant. Arsene got the team right and his substitutions were logical given the circumstances and lack of options in the midfield.

    Even if we can’t be happy with the Sp*rs and Foxes’ results, we can be happy that results of the chasing pack went our way. Manchester City, United, West Ham, maybe even both Liverpool and Southampton, could be all in the game for Champions League places. That might serve our cause as Leicester have to play Southampton, West Ham, United and Chelsea until the end while Spuds have to play Liverpool, Southampton, United and Chelsea.

  • 17HT

    Busy day for me as a day away from family cannot be followed by another one hugging the blog… 😉

    Nice comment Admir; please move the next post.

    Retsubster, I got your email, thanks. Will publish Tuesday or Wednesday. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s