Everton vs. Arsenal
The Martin Keown Chalice
Kickoff: Wednesday, March 21, 4 PM EDT
Goodison Park, Liverpool L4, United Kingdom
Form: Everton WDWLD | Arsenal LWWWW
SBN Everton Coverage: Royal Blue Mersey
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Arsenal will travel up the road a piece (209 miles, to be exact) to Liverpool to face Everton FC for the second time this year. In the reverse fixture at the Emirates in December, both teams chugged away for 70 minutes before Robin van Persie slammed home a quite good volley for the match's only goal. Everton aren't terribly better at home than they are away, and they've lost five matches out of 14 at Goodison this season, so Arsenal should feel pretty good about their chances of continuing their excellent form, but there is no reason to get complacent up north, as Tottenham found out two weekends ago.
More after the yump:
Everton have only one injury of note, and that is to Darron Gibson. Other than that, they can pretty much run out whatever side they want. It is a little hard to predict what they will do, and they have options: Denis Stracqualursi and Victor Anichebe can play up top, or they could roll Leon Osman up there. Steven Pienaar on the left with Leighton Baines behind him seems likely, along with Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell in the middle and Seamus Coleman on the right. Some Yank will be in goal; I've never heard of him.
Baines and Pienaar bombing up the left hand side presents a big threat, but on the other hand, it could work very much in Arsenal's favor. Arsenal have heavily played up the right hand side lately through Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott; this flank will probably present the key battle tomorrow (although, knowing football, all the goals will come through Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coleman, and Tony Hibbert, just to spite me). Keep an eye on how much Sagna, Walcott, Baines, and Pienaar are getting forward early.
Arsene Wenger today in his press conference implied that the lineup that Arsenal send out will be the same as the one against Newcastle last week, so look for Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Walcott, van Persie, and Oxlade-Chamberlain to start for the Gunners. There are no new injuries for the squad, but Sebastien Squillaci is back in full training (hooray!) and Abou Diaby played 60 minutes for the reserves today against Liverpool.
Match prediction: the match ends 7-6 in Arsenal's favor after both sides score two in the first five minutes because nobody can find Tim Howard (camo!) and Szczesny gets lost in the tunnel. Gervinho comes on for Ox in the 67th minute when the score is 6-2 Everton and scores five goals from five shots, including a 35-yard rocket. He's due.