3 Reasons Everton Will Beat Arsenal --- And 3 Reasons They Won't

Why might we see something like this again this weekend? - Paul Gilham

Everton host Arsenal in their biggest league match of the season; what should supporters prepare for?

Why Everton will win

1. Arsenal is riddled with injuries

The Gunners' injury crisis is a huge reason why Everton is back in the top four race at all. Arsenal is missing their preferred central midfield trio of Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, and Aaron Ramsey, in addition to starting center back Laurent Koscielny and winger Theo Walcott. Of course, the Gunners have players like Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Lukas Podolski, Thomas Vermaelen, and Tomas Rosicky to replace such players, but the top quality has certainly been missed in previous weeks, and will continue to be.

Much will fall on James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, and Ross Barkley (or whoever else plays behind the striker) to exploit the absences of Arsenal's central midfielders. If they play well, the Toffees are quite capable of bossing possession against the London club.

2. Roberto Martinez is pulling the right strings and getting the best out of most of his players at crucial moments

Injuries or dips in form have threatened to derail the season of almost all Everton players this season (excepting perhaps Sylvain Distin, McCarthy, and Barry), but this five match winning streak has been a story of different players coming up big every week.

Against West Ham, Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines combined to give the Toffees a 1-0 victory, with both having missed significant time through injury this year.

Against Cardiff, Martinez brought a fully fit Gerard Deulofeu into the starting lineup, who put Everton up 1-0 in the 59th minute. Substitute Aiden McGeady's cross in stoppage time led to the Toffees' late match-winner.

Against Newcastle, Martinez's choice of Deuofeu, Barkley, and Osman in the midfield paid dividends as the Toffees marched to victory on the backs of these players.

Against Fulham this weekend, the introduction of Steven Naismith turned the match around massively, spurring Everton to a fifth straight victory.

Clearly, the gaffer has gotten into a rhythm with rotating his squad, and his decisions have worked across the board.

3. Everton have made Goodison Park a fortress

The Toffees' single loss at home this year came in a match in which they spent 65 minutes with 10 men.

Since that match against Sunderland on Boxing Day, have won all nine home matches they have played (seven in the BPL, two in the FA Cup) by a combined score of 19-6.

The supporters will know exactly how massive this match is for the club, and will certainly be all-in behind the players once the match is underway; Goodison Park should provide a huge advantage for the Toffees.

Why Everton will not win

1. The FA Cup fiasco

Supporters will certainly have not forgotten the FA Cup quarterfinals beat down that the Gunners put on Everton. Arsenal will have the same players available in this match that they had for that one sans Mesut Ozil, so clearly their injuries weren't too big a factor in that match.

That match may have been at the Emirates, but it certainly must weigh in the minds of the players nonetheless. Arsenal proved that day that they have true quality, even if they sometimes seem to lose it for stretches of the season. If the Arsenal that showed up in the FA Cup match shows up this weekend, Everton will need to put in a far greater performance than they did then.

2. The schedule has turned

Everton's five match win streak, impressive in its own right, has been against clubs that are no higher than ninth in the table. Of course, the team can only beat the teams that it plays, but Arsenal will be a huge step up from the competition they have faced the rest of the month, and they will need to be ready for that from the first whistle.

If they are not ready for the increase in quality, they will be made to pay early.

3. The pressure is on

When Roberto Martinez said that his goal for this team was the Champions League in his first press conference after being hired, I doubt many thought that the club would be in this situation come April.

But yet, here we are, looking at a situation where the Toffees have their destiny in their own hands with just 7 matches to play, starting in this crucial match.

The problem is, there are very few players with Everton at the moment who have experience in these sort of situations, and performances in matches in which everything is on the line haven't been up to par the last two seasons.

Last year's FA Cup debacle against Wigan stands out, as does last season's away draw to Tottenham, in which Everton had a glorious opportunity to close the gap on the Spurs and conceded a late equalizer to Gylfi Sigurdsson.

This year, they simply did not show up at Anfield, in a match that had massive implications in the table at the time, and never really hit top gear in the FA Cup loss to Arsenal.

If the Toffees are going to beat Arsenal, and make a run at the last Champions League spot, they need to figure out how to pick up result under pressure -- and they need to do it now.

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