If Arsenal are gonna get through December with a firm grip on the title then utilising our strength in depth will be more than crucial for games like this.
The Gunners have got a crazy schedule coming up off the back of a frustrating Champions League draw, but they’re keeping pace with the likes of Chelsea despite having added European fixtures.
Up first is a trip to Merseyside, with an Everton side who are struggling to find their form in the Premier League under new boss Ronald Koeman.
You have to stretch back to the final day of October when The Toffees last celebrated a league victory, and after shock losses to Watford and Southampton they’re very fragile in ninth place.
Arsenal on the other hand have the chance to go back to the top of the table with three points and keep the pressure on Chelsea, who play Sunderland on Wednesday night.
The news we were all dreading was confirmed instantly after the 3-1 win at the weekend, with Shkodran Mustafi set to be sidelined for at least three weeks.
Gabriel is likely to move into centre back with the fully fit again Hector Bellerin ready to get his first start since the 1-1 draw with Tottenham a few weeks ago.
Aaron Ramsey will sit this one out again after missing the weekend’s clash with Stoke, he’s picked up another hamstring injury but is pushing to be back for the trip to Manchester.
Santi Cazorla is recovering well following “perfect surgery” whilst Mertesacker and Welbeck are maintaining their fitness in full training as a comeback nears ever closer.
Arsenal Absentees: S. Cazorla (ankle), M. Debuchy (hamstring), S. Mustafi (hamstring), A. Ramsey (hamstring), P. Mertesacker (match fitness), D. Welbeck (match fitness)
Despite their dodgy run of form in the league Everton can’t use injuries as an excuse, with just one major first team player missing from the squad.
Koeman’s summer signing, Yanick Bolasie, is still battling to overcome a knee injury and that’ll be a welcome relief for Nacho Monreal who’s struggled recently.
The real question is whether Koeman starts to change things in the hopes of picking up some points at home, where the majority of fans are starting to get fed up with seeing their side fail to perform.
Everton Absentees: Y. Bolasie (knee), M. Besic (knee)
Premier League Form
Arsenal Last 10: WWWDWDDWWW
Things have been good for Arsenal in the last few weeks after topping their Champions League group and hitting the top of the table for the first time since October.
They have to ensure they don’t let their heads go though, and especially in a game like Everton we can’t afford to see players getting lost out on the pitch.
Momentum is key and we’ve got something to work towards in the long-term future now, the challenge now is to start pulling away from our rivals and playing before all of them is a great way to do it.
Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City all dropped points last weekend so Wenger must capitalise on that by fielding a strong team that want to be playing week in, week out.
Everton Last 10: LDDLWLDLDL
On paper, it’s tough reading for Everton fans. However, out on the pitch things don’t get much better and their mentality is not where it needs to be ahead of the festive period.
Watford outplayed them in all areas of the pitch at the weekend coming out as 3-2 winners, and during Match of the Day the Everton defence got absolutely dispatched.
For yet another season, Romelu Lukaku is popping up to spare their blushed and he’s got nine goals in the league already, but it’s Koeman’s back four that are letting the fans down.
Summer signing Ashley Williams has failed to dictate his leadership skills in Merseyside and his partner Funes Mori doesn’t exactly strike fear into the mind of Alexis and Ozil.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis
Everton (4-3-3): Steklenburg, Coleman, Funes Mori, Williams, Baines, Barry, Gueye, McCarthy, Mirallas, Deulofeu, Lukaku
Prediction: Everton 0 – 3 Arsenal
Everton have been awful recently and if they think their form is going to change against a side that want to be top of the table at Christmas then they should think again.
Arsenal are rocking in confidence and even if Wenger wants to rest a few players, he’s got quality in every aspect on the bench despite injuries to Mustafi and Ramsey.
Everton will have to rely on set pieces to have a go at the Gunners, and will zone in on Gabriel’s ablity in the air knowing that Lukaku is likely to beat him for power and accuracy.
Sitting in this 4-3-3 formation will suit their ambition to break and try to catch Arsenal out, but this is one of those games that when Arsenal go 1-0 up, you can’t see Everton fighting to get back in it.
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