Three back to back victories have taken Arsenal only three points behind league leaders Chelsea before their midweek Premier League outing against Everton at Goodison Park.
Everton, on the other hand, have lost their way after a stunning start under newly appointed manager Ronald Koeman and currently without a win in last five fixtures. Koeman is in desperate need to turn things around in their Tuesday night encounter against in-form Gunners which is going to be a tough ask considering their current run of form.
Can Everton Capitalize on the Gunners’ defensive blow?
Injuries have been a stumbling block in Arsenal’s title hope in recent past. However, things have not changed much this term as well with defender Shkodran Mustafi has suffered a hamstring strain last Saturday that will keep him out of action for at least three weeks. Veteran centre-back Per Mertesacker is still unavailable following his knee surgery whereas, Mathieu Debuchy is out for more than a month with hamstring injury.
The nesting partnership of Mustafi and Koscielny (a.k.a “Kostafi”) started clicking for the Gunners and now a new combination will take time to settle down at the heart of Gunners’ defense.
On whom else Koeman should rely on along with Lukaku?
Everton have been vulnerable defensively and their midfield has been too static at times. All eyes will be on Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku who scored a brace on Saturday during their 3-2 defeat over Watford. But the former Saints boss has failed to utilize James McCarthy, one of his finest midfield options, so far and the Irishman needs to be paired alongside Idrissa Gana Gueye to muster their midfield with his tireless runs as well as box-to-box movements.
Why an experienced backline is needed to resist free-scoring Gunners’ trio?
Arsenal have a number of key players who are in great run of form. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott are among goals and Arsene Wenger, the Gunners’ boss, will rely on the trio in order to keep pushing for a title fight.
Koeman dropped veteran Phil Jagielka recently and Ramiro Funes Mori was handed a start against Watford. But things did not change as the Toffees conceded three and suffered a 3-2 defeat against the Hornets. Defending from set-pieces has been a major concern for Everton and the experience of Leighton Baines, Ashley Williams along with Jagielka might work to hold their defense firm in such an intense home fixture.
Everton are currently ninth in the league table with five points lower than sixth placed Manchester United. Might not be too late, but the Toffees should fix their complications as soon as possible and start picking up points in order to stay in race for a place in Europe.