Everton - Arsenal: A chance for the Blues to capitalise on Gunners slump?

Five things to watch as Everton prepare to face Arsenal in the Premier League at Goodison Park.

Everton - Arsenal: A chance for the Blues to capitalise on Gunners slump?
Everton and Arsenal do battle once again. Photo: Daily Mirror

As Everton prepare to host Arsenal in the Premier League in an early kick off on Saturday, here are five things to look out for ahead of the game. 

Arsenal’s European Hangover

After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford last weekend, Arsenal were promptly dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona. This game is a chance for the Blues to target a wounded Arsenal side and capitalise. 

Playing Barcelona is physically and mentally draining. You need to keep concentration for 90 minutes and while Arsenal may have not, they still battled and only have a couple of days recovery before a game that should be fiery and gritty. 

Everton need to start a run of games towards the end of the season where they can build momentum for their FA Cup run and to simply get some fans back on their side. It has been another poor season at Goodison Park and one the Toffees need to rectify. 

Lionel Messi finishes the job for Barcelona. Photo: Daily Mail
Lionel Messi finishes the job for Barcelona. Photo: Daily Mail

Blues building momentum after last week

A superb hard working win over Chelsea in the FA Cup has boosted spirits surrounding Goodison Park.

It should be a joyous time to be an Evertonian. New investment has finally arrived and there is a real chance to win one of the last trophies on offer this season, the FA Cup.

The Toffees should be looking to use the momentum gained from last weeks win in this game. A start similar to that like last week will get the fans behind them and the old ground rocking. If that happens, the Gunners are in for a long Saturday afternoon. 

Romelu Lukaku celebrates sealing a win over Chelsea. Photo: Liverpool Echo
Romelu Lukaku celebrates sealing a win over Chelsea. Photo: Liverpool Echo

Blues flexibility at the back

Roberto Martinez spoke in his press conference about how his side is flexible, especially in defence. It’s been a running theme for a few weeks now regarding John Stones, but while he is not in his best moment of form, he is still a top player.

The Blues boss may opt for a three at the back system to accommodate all of his centre halves, especially with Gareth Barry suspended. The system did not work against West Ham United as Stones was substituted at half time but Martinez has shown in the past he is willing to try again.

Martinez may choose Muhamed Besic in the place of Gareth Barry or he may even choose to play Tom Cleverley next to James McCarthy, freeing up a space out wide for Gerard Deulofeu to make his return to starting eleven. 

Another chance for Muhamed Besic to shine

Shaking off injury without any set backs and being available for this game is huge for Muhamed Besic who is still trying to break into the Everton team. He has shown in patches that he can be a big player for the Blues but his inability to stay fit has hampered him.

With Gareth Barry suspended due to his dismissal against Chelsea, there is a spot open for Besic to walk into, in a game where his tenacious style of play will be needed.

In games against Manchester City, Besic has been able to singlehandedly shut down arguably City’s best players in Yaya Toure and David Silva. He may be needed to do that against Arsenal, shadowing Mesut Özil, giving him little time to think or make a pass. 

Muhamed Besic tackles David Silva. Photo: Zimbo
Muhamed Besic tackles David Silva. Photo: Zimbo

Strong end to the season for the Toffees

With ten Premier League games remaining for Everton, this game represents a chance for them to start a late run up the table. 

A win against an Arsenal who are still trying to battle for the league title would set the Toffees in good stead for a upcoming run of fixtures which present a number of challenges.

The Blues still have to play a number of teams battling at each end of the table which can work as much in their favour as it can be a negative. Playing a Leicester City that will attack the Blues looking to clinch the title, will present Roberto Martinez’s side with time and space to counter attack, a style they enjoy.

Equally, they face a Sunderland Athletic team that is fighting relegation and will look to stand tight in defence and look to beat Everton in the last portion of the game, something of a weakness for the Blues.