Everton - Arsenal Preview: Toffees hoping to build some momentum after FA Cup triumph

A week after definitively severing the string on the final trophy hope of one of English football's big four, Roberto Martinez's side have a chance at effectively doing the same for another at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Everton - Arsenal Preview: Toffees hoping to build some momentum after FA Cup triumph
Everton take on Arsenal at Goodison Park at 12:45 (GMT) on Saturday 19 March. (Image: VAVEL)

A week after definitively severing the string on the final trophy hope of one of English football's big four, Everton have a chance at effectively doing the same for another.

The Toffees welcome Arsenal to Goodison Park on Saturday hoping to follow up their FA Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea last weekend with a win against the Gunners.

Head-to-head

This is a fixture that has undeniably been dominated by Arsenal in recent years. Since March 2007, Everton have only won one of their last 17 league meetings with the Gunners.

When the two sides met earlier in the season, goals from Oliver Giroud and Laurent Koscielny earned the London club a 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium. However, Goodison Park has not been the happiest hunting grounds for Arsenal in recent years. The Gunners have not won there in four years.

Olivier Giroud scores the opening goal past Tim Howard when the two sides last met. | Photo: Getty Images
Olivier Giroud scores the opening goal past Tim Howard when the two sides last met. | Photo: Getty Images

Everton hoping to end the season strongly

It has been a strange season for Everton supporters. On the one hand they are just one step away from a first FA Cup final since 2009, but on the other, it is hard to shake the feeling that they have underachieved in the league.

Roberto Martinez's side sit 12th with nine wins from 28 matches, but the Everton boss has urged his side to maintain their recent run of form and end the season strongly, starting with the visit of Arsenal to Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Toffees have won three of their last five Premier League outings to leave them in 12th place, with matches in hand on their rivals and an outside chance of European qualification. Victory against Arsenal would lift the Blues into the top half of the table at least temporarily.

However, new investment has finally arrived and there is a real chance that Everton could lift their first trophy since 1995 after last weekend's 2-0 victory over Chelsea booked the Toffees a place in the FA Cup semi-finals. As satisfying as the cup progression may have been, Martinez recognises the need for Everton to finally display consistent form in the league.

If the Blues are to end the season with a flourish then the form of Romelu Lukaku will be key. The former Chelsea striker returned to haunt his former club last weekend as the 22-year-old scored both of Everton's goals. The Belgian's double took his tally for the season to 25 in all competitions, 18 of which have come in the Premier League.

Can the Toffees make home advantage count?

While Everton have won six of their last eight matches across all competitions, the blemishes have come in two of their last three league matches and both at Goodison Park. A 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion highlighted season trends for the Toffees, while a disappointing end to an all too familiar story against West Ham United followed.

Their 16 home points are better than only Crystal Palace and bottom of the table Aston Villa, and their defensive record at home is the worst in Europe's top-five leagues. However, the mood of impatience and tension was replaced by the sounds of triumph, fight and harmony that reverberated around Goodison Park at the final-whistle along with a feeling of unity and togetherness.

The Toffees will be hoping to use the momentum gained from last week's win and if there is another feeling of unity and togetherness around Goodison on Saturday then home advantage could prove key for Martinez's side.

Romelu Lukaku showed sheer strength, brilliant balance and a fantastic finish to score Everton's opening goal against Chelsea. Photo: Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku showed sheer strength, brilliant balance and a fantastic finish to score Everton's opening goal against Chelsea. Photo: Getty Images

The opposition

Arsenal travel to Goodison Park aiming to end a miserable week on a high; having gone out of two competitions in five days. There is not time for Arsenal to feel sorry for themselves and the Toffees will be hoping to take advantage of the Gunners' slump.

At the start of the year, Arsenal were two points clear of Leicester City at the top of the table and in contention for three trophies. Three months later, Arsene Wenger's side trail leaders Leicester by 11 points in third position and have been eliminated from the FA Cup by Watford and the Champions League by Barcelona.

In the league, the Gunners have taken just a point from their last three games, losing to Manchester United and Swansea City, but they did fight back to record a 2-2 draw at rivals Tottenham Hotspur despite being reduced to 10 men.

Now the clamour for Wenger's 20-year reign in North London to end is growing louder following a run of one win in eight games and four in the past 15 and there may not be a better time to welcome this weekend's opponents to Goodison Park.

Team news

Everton will be without suspended duo Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas, while Martinez is hopeful Bryan Oviedo will be able to play some part as he continues to recover from a serious chest infection. There is better news, however, on Leighton Baines and Muhamed Besic, who have shown no ill effects following their own respective comebacks from injury.

For the Gunners, Laurent Koscielny returned to action in their Champions League defeat, but there are still absentees in Arsene Wenger's squad. Midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla are all still sidelined, while David Ospina should again deputise for Petr Cech in goal.