I’ve been an Arsenal fan for more than twenty years and I can’t remember a more disappointing season than this one.
Currently, the Gunners—do I need to remind you?—are in sixth place, eight points out of the top four, six points behind Tottenham. A top-four finish seems increasingly illusionary. On top of all that, Wenger’s side was humiliated earlier this week against a bottom-of-the-table Swansea side.
But right now, I don’t care. I’m not worried about where we’re going to finish. I just want to enjoy watching Arsenal again.
After an exhausting, uncharacteristically busy January transfer window, I’m ready to see the Arsenal of the (near) future. On paper, our new front four—Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Özil—is as good as any in the EPL. The goals will follow in the coming months.
But what should we expect tomorrow?
Unfortunately, not too much.
As you probably know by now, we might have to wait another week to see Aubameyang’s debut. Wenger has admitted that the club’s record signing is dealing with an illness and hasn’t been able to train much since arriving at the Emirates.
We don’t know how much playing time Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang (even if he’s healthy) will get, and we should expect that it will take a few games for this offense to start, as they say, firing on all cylinders—especially considering it's not immediately apparent how this front four will fit together.
On the Everton side of things, Sam Allardyce wants to throw a wet blanket on all this Arsenal enthusiasm. And he might have the firepower to do it.
With Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott joining the Toffees, don’t be surprised to see Everton running through Arsenal’s less-than-stable defensive line. Theo Walcott—who has been impressive since joining Everton with two goals and an assist—will want nothing more than to haunt his old manager and score at the Emirates.
In addition to Aubameyang’s aforementioned fever, Jack Wilshere, who missed the Swansea debacle, is reportedly still dealing with his own illness. Danny Welbeck also remains sidelined.
For the Toffees, Morgan Schneiderlin Ashley Williams, Jonjoe Kenny, Cenk Tosun, are all healthy and available to start. Although Seamus Coleman has officially returned to the first-team, he’s still getting back to full fitness after suffering a broken leg. Meanwhile, Leighton Baines, James McCarthy, Ramiro Funes Mori are doubtful to play.
I want to say that we are going to see an unstoppable Arsenal attack tomorrow. And, while there is no doubt that we have much more fearsome, fast-paced front line, I have to remind myself that our leaky defense gave up three fairly soft goals to Swansea at Liberty Stadium earlier this week.
We may have added strength to the attack, but it’s our defense that still needs the most improvement.
What’s more, I expect Big Sam to pack the back (doesn’t everyone against Arsenal?) and try to frustrate Wenger.
Still, Arsenal is unbeaten in 19 of 20 home fixtures, and have won 16 of 20 home matches against Everton. Meanwhile, the Toffees have only won one of their last 20 away matches in the Premier League, and have conceded at least one goal in six straight games.
There is no way this fixture is a low-scoring affair, right?
Lineups I hope to see
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette, Aubameyang
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Jagielka, Martina; Schneiderlin, Gueye; Walcott, Rooney, Sigurdsson; Tosun
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Everton F.C.
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Saturday, February 3rd 9:30 PT | 12:30 ET | 5:30 BST
US TV: NBC, online stream here.
OUTSIDE THE US: Check out livesoccer.tv for all of your streaming information.
As always, please do not discuss or share links to illegal streams here.