When Everton travels to North London to take on Arsenal, the stakes couldn't be any higher. With just five league games left for each team after Tuesday's games, and both sides holding on to slim hopes that they'll finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League, this is a must-win.
When these teams first met in November, the game ended in a 1-1 draw. That result would be disappointing for both teams this time around.
Arsenal comes into this game on fire, with five straight wins and six wins in the past seven games across all competitions. But Everton is on fine form as well, with three wins and a draw in its last four games.
This game has all the makings of a classic match. Let's take a closer look at this key Premier League clash.
When: Tuesday, April 16 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
For much of the season, Arsenal looked in danger of missing the Champions League and finishing outside of the top four. Now, the team has moved all the way up to third place. But that isn't what matters, according to Arsene Wenger (via ESPN):
"At the moment the position is not important," Wenger told reporters. "What is important is to keep our run going. At the moment the team that is the most consistent that will get there. We have the most consistency.
"Finishing in the top four is a question of nerve. Today was a balance of nerves, quality and intelligence. We didn't do anything stupid when we were 1-0 down. That side of the game is important.
"We need spirit and nerves. In the end we deserved the win. Credit to Norwich, they played well. They will not go down. They defended well, they gave us problems. We showed absolute resilience."
Wenger might not think the position is important, but Arsenal supporters surely will feel better if the team can remain in third place.
Arsenal Player to Watch: Theo Walcott
The speedy winger and occasional striker has been fantastic for Arsenal this season, scoring 18 goals and 14 assists in 37 appearances. Recently returned from injury, he was subbed on for Arsenal in the second half against Norwich City and instantly made a major impact on the game.
While Walcott is best out wide—at least in my opinion—he has been one of Arsenal's most consistent finishers when he finds himself with an opportunity to score. His pace and skill on the ball give defenders nightmares, and Arsenal is simply a better attacking team with him on the pitch.
For my money, Arsenal has been at its best this season with him and Lukas Podolski on the wings, Olivier Giroud at striker and Santi Cazorla sitting atop the midfield trio. It will be interesting to see what lineup Arsene Wenger rolls out against Everton.
Everton Player to Watch: Marouane Fellaini
There won't be a hotter name in the summer transfer window. And for good reason—Fellaini has once again been excellent this season.
You could simply look at the numbers—12 goals and seven assists in all competitions this season for Everton—and determine that Fellaini is once again having a great campaign. But it's his versatility that makes the attacking midfielder so dangerous.
For one, he's a terror in the air and is one of the most dangerous targets in the box in the Premier League. He's a clever player in the buildup as well, and while he's a box-to-box midfielder, he does his best work in the attacking third.
Arsenal's back line has been shaky this season and the team in general has been suspect on set pieces, so Fellaini could pose a serious threat for the Gunners. Don't take your eyes off the man with the giant hair—he'll do something special.
Both of these teams are peaking at the right time and have plenty to play for, so trying to pick a winner is tricky. Arsenal always seems to find a way to finish in the top four, while Everton is gunning for a Europa League spot at the very least.
In what should be an exciting, back-and-forth contest with everything on the line, I think we'll see a 2-2 draw. It won't be the three points both teams desire—and the lone point will hurt Everton more than Arsenal—but the result won't cripple either side.
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