Four wins in five games have dragged Everton right back into the European football picture. However, with away trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea still ahead of the Blues, this could be quite a tall order. David Moyes does not have a good track record playing at the Emirates or Anfield, and only marginally better at Stamford Bridge, and making it to Europe despite that would be testament to his managerial abilities.
Meanwhile, tonight's opponents Arsenal are on a great streak themselves with four straight victories and seven wins in their last eight games, which has propelled the Gunners into third place. Moyes has never won at Arsenal, with Everton's last win there coming in 1996. Since then, the Blues have been dismal in the capital, with just two draws and fifteen losses.
Team News -
Everton should have the full squad to choose from, with a a few players nursing minor knocks and bruises. Tony Hibbert remains on his long path back to full fitness after a long layoff.
Arsene Wenger has a couple of injury worries, with first choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski out and Thomas Rosicky returning from a hamstring injury. Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski both came off the bench to make telling contributions in Saturday's win and could feature again, while Nacho Monreal was rested over the weekend and should take his place at left-back.
Keys To The Game -
Everton have been quite happy to cede possession to the home team and rely on the counter attack and dead-ball situations for their goals. However, there is a widespread feeling that will only lead to a mauling for Moyes' side today were he to adopt such conservative tactics. In fact, in recent weeks we have seen the Scotsman surprise the fans with some aggressive moves so it should be interesting to see what tricks he has up his sleeve today. The starting line-up should be the same as on Saturday, with Marouane Fellaini supporting Victor Anichebe up top. Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar will switch around as the game progresses to keep the defenders guessing.
For the home side, Wojciech Szczesny could step in between the sticks for Fabianski, and his composure will go a long way towards determining his defence's performance. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are a ball-hogging midfield pair and will be key in ensuring successful ball distribution for whichever speedy wingers Wenger plays - Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arteta-Ramsey versus Leon Osman and Darron Gibson in the middle of the park might be where this game is won or lost.
Match Facts -
- Everton have given up 14 points from winning positions on the road, second to Southampton's 16. - The Toffees have scored 15 times in the last 15 minutes of the first half, most in the League. - Everton lead the Premier League in headed goals scored (13) and conceded too (14). - The Gunners have scored 18 goals in the last 15 minutes of the second half, leading the League. - Arsenal have kept only three clean sheets at the Emirates in their last 15 League games. - However, the London side are tied with Manchester City as the best second-half defence having shipped just 15 goals.