Arsenal vs. Everton
The Emirates Stadium, next to where Highbury was, North London, England
Saturday, 10 December 2011, 10 am EST
TV: Fox Soccer
ARS: WDLWL | EVE: LLWWL
SB Nation Everton typings: Royal Blue Mersey
Arsenal's 125th anniversary game will be played against one of the few Premier League teams for which I can muster emotions other than "loathing," "mild distaste," and "total apathy" as the blue half of Liverpool visits the Emirates. The Gunners will look to match the historic day with a performance more like Saturday's against Wigan and less like the midweek LOLing against Olympiakos.
Why do I not-hate (and not-not-care-about) Everton? Let me tell you my reasons. The main one is the American connection: I am an American, and Everton, whether they realize it or not, are Team America. Tim Howard, my favorite non-Szczesny goalkeeper in the world and True American Hero, starts for them in goal when he isn't trying to think of words that rhyme with "orange." Also they had Landon Donovan that one time and even though I don't really like him that much, he is indisputably American. He did this too, which I liked. And even though he was kind of an ass when we played in London last year (though maybe right?), I've always had a lot of respect for David Moyes. He hasn't had a lot of money to spend for the most part, and he's been able to get Everton to overachieve pretty much every year since I've been paying attention. They're really a team nobody other than a Liverpool fan could hate.
Everton are 10th in the table right now, which is probably right around where you'd expect. They were disappointing last week against Stoke in a 1-0 loss at Goodison Park, in large part because (by all accounts) they tried to beat Stoke at their own game. Hopefully they'll remember how to play football tomorrow, because I really hate having to watch the game played like that, and it's not something that the Toffees have been known for in the recent past. Has the loss of Mikel Arteta (I forget where he went) done such damage to Everton that they've had to drastically change their style? Hopefully the answer is no. Not just because it's gross to watch, but because Everton are good enough that they shouldn't need to resort to that kind of thing.
The team news continues to be vexing. Andre Santos is crocked for a while, so he's out. Sagna, Gibbs, and Jenkinson are all also out. Since we have no fullbacks, I presume we will see an all-centerback defense on Saturday. The question is this: which ones start where? I was assuming that we'd see Vermaelen-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Djourou, but this picture that Aidan just sent me from the dot-com shows part of Ignasi Miquel's face in training. WILL HE START?! Honestly I would still like to see the line that I already mentioned. Miquel has looked pretty good so far this year, though, so if he starts I don't think it would be madness. There is also another, far more terrifying picture from the website that reveals a likely bench selection. LOOK UPON THIS, AND EXPERIENCE A FEAR LIKE NONE OTHER. So yeah, I guess we really, really need to hope more than we already were that Szczesny doesn't get hurt.
So, the team!
Djourou - Koscielny - Mertesacker - Vermaelen
Song - Arteta
Walcott - van Persie - Gervinho
I think we put out our strongest possible team. There's over a week before the Big Game with Manchester City, and Everton are not a side to be taken lightly. Miquel would be acceptable, in which case Vermaelen either replaces Mertesacker, or Kos shifts to the right while Djourou meets the bench and TV5 pairs with Per in the middle. If Miquel plays I would prefer the former rather than the latter. The rest of the side will remain unchanged from the usual, unless someone comes down with the consumption or gets hit by a bike messenger or something.
Prediction: The statues of Thierry Henry and Tony Adams come to life and come on as late additions to the squad. They go on re-enacting their notable goals, and though Tim Howard does his best to go America all over everyone's ass, but come on - they're magic statues. van Persie also scores a hat trick, because why not? Arshavin giggles at the walking statues, then falls off his chair. Arsenal 3-0 Everton.