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Everton vs Arsenal: Match Preview

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The Toffees take on Arsenal in their first home game of the season as the squad looks to impress after a disappointing result against Leicester City.

Seamus Coleman is likely to return for Saturday's clash against Arsenal
Seamus Coleman is likely to return for Saturday's clash against Arsenal
Paul Thomas

With a disappointing draw to Leicester City now behind them, the Toffees return home for their first game at Goodison Park of the 2014-15 campaign. Their opponent will be an improved Arsenal squad that has added the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy during the transfer window. Despite these additions, Roberto Martinez's men will look to capitalize on an Arsenal squad that is playing its second game this week.

Team News

The injury to Ross Barkley appears to be less severe than previously believed, with the timetable for a return being shortened from five months to seven or eight weeks. There is still no definite timetable for the young midfielders return, but there is hope that Barkley could return sooner rather than later.

Seamus Coleman may make his return to the starting lineup after coming on as a late substitute in the draw to Leicester City last weekend. The right back has been declared fully fit by Martinez and his return comes a week after defender John Stones struggled to impose himself along the right flank. Martinez has declared his side fully fit and will be able to field a full team, not including Arouna Koné, Bryan Oviedo and Ross Barkley who are all dealing with long term injuries

For Arsenal, the team is coming off a tough draw to Turkish side Besiktas in Tuesday's Champions League play-off. Former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta suffered an ankle injury earlier in the week and will be unavailable for Saturday's match. Arsenal Manager Arsene Wegner said that the German trio of Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski may be fit for the match, but a final decision has yet to be made on the players fitness.

What to Watch For

Romelu Lukaku struggled to assert himself against Leicester City, failing to net a goal against the newly promoted Foxes. The Belgian's touch failed him on several occasions and was largely unable to positively impact the game. Look for Lukaku to have a better game this week, with another full week of training under his belt.

With Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman likely returning to the lineup this week, the attack down the right side should be far more potent than it was last week. The Toffees now have both of their starting fullbacks in the line-up meaning the squad will be able to feed the ball to both flanks, giving their attack more variety. Everton found success on the left side with Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar, but their strategy was figured out and both players struggled to influence the game late in the second half.

Fitness will be a concern for Arsenal after playing most of their starters in their mid-week Champions League game. It is possible that some of Arsenal's regular starters come off the bench or are rested altogether, meaning that Everton may be able to capitalize on a slightly weakened squad. However, if Özil and Mertesacker are declared fit, the Toffees will have a tough test ahead of them.

The final thing to watch for will be how Everton's defense improves after allowing a late equalizer that cost them two points at King Power Stadium. The central defensive pairing of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin were not on the top of their game last week and the defense as a whole struggled to defend on set pieces. The Toffees will be facing a much more potent attack this week and will need to improve on last week's mistakes if they are to gain a positive result in their home opener.

Match Facts

  • The last meeting between these two teams saw Everton come away with a 3-0 win with goals from Romelu Lukaku, Steven Naismith and an own goal from Mikel Arteta.
  • In the past three seasons, Arsenal haven't won an away game against any team that finished in the top five, going winless in 14 straight such games.
  • Historically, Everton have not had great success against Arsenal with a record of 6-12-26 since the inception of the Premier League.
  • Last season's victory was the first time Everton had defeated Arsenal since 2007.