Everton vs. Arsenal: Tactical Preview of Early Blockbuster Premier League Clash

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 22, 2014

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16: Romelu Lukaku of Everton is tackled by Liam Moore of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at the King Power Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Our first blockbuster Premier League tie occurs on Saturday evening, with Everton hosting Arsenal at Goodison Park.

Both sides struggled to impose their will against "lesser" sides on the opening day, with the former drawing 2-2 at Leicester and the latter squeezing past Crystal Palace at home.

Let's take a tactical look at how this game could play out.


Everton Setup

Everton resumed service in their regular 4-2-3-1 formation at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with the XI looking oh-so-familiar after the recruitment of last year's loan stars on permanent deals.

Romelu Lukaku looked a bit rough around the edges in his second debut, failing to hold onto the ball much how he did in the FIFA World Cup 2014 for Belgium, but the Steven Pienaar-Leighton Baines connection returned with a vengeance.


Gareth Barry and James McCarthy should continue in the engine room, with Irish duo Seamus Coleman and Darron Gibson also available, according to Roberto Martinez.

 "I expect him [Coleman] to be available for the weekend," the manager told Evertonfc.com. "Darron Gibson has been working really well this week as well and has put in a lot of work for his own programme.


Arsenal Setup

There's only so much you can take from an attack vs. defence situation like Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace, but the Gunners have shown their colours against AS Monaco, Manchester City and Besiktas, too.

The Germans are back in contention to start, per The Islington Gazette, but the 4-3-3 formation used in lieu of Mesut Ozil's presence looks a good fit for this fixture and could continue.


Mikel Arteta is out for at least two weeks, per The Guardian, so Mathieu Flamini should slot in to the lineup.

Arsene Wenger would be loath to play Ozil half-fit and put him in the firing line just as he did last season, and Calum Chambers has played superbly in place of Per Mertesacker.

If they do switch to a 4-2-3-1 it'll be the first time since playing Benfica in the Emirates Cup before the season, but the formation was their 2013-14 norm and shouldn't throw up any issues.


Key Area 1: Leighton Baines & Steven Pienaar vs. Mathieu Debuchy

Steven Pienaar was marginalised last season under Martinez, but he returned to the left wing on the opening day and looked as if he'd never been away.

With Lukaku struggling to find a foothold in the game against Leicester and Wes Morgan mopping up plenty in defence, the Toffees targeted the left side and used the Baines-Pienaar combination to good effect.


This will be another major test of Debuchy's defensive abilities. He came out the winner against Aleksandar Kolarov in the Community Shield, but this is a two-punch combo that's tough to contain.

Additionally, Steven Naismith has emerged as a clever playmaker who knows how to find room to work in and around the No. 10 space. With Baines and Pienaar attracting a three vs. two, Naismith can thrive.

Mathieu Flamini, we're looking at you.


Key Area 2: Stopping Aaron Ramsey

Without Ozil, Arsenal are looking to Ramsey to carry the load in midfield. The 4-3-3 allows him to play box-to-box and surge into space a la Angel Di Maria, and he's quickly becoming one of the most menacing midfielders in the league.

Barry and McCarthy are going to have to sit deep and reduce the space between themselves and the centre-backs, therefore limiting the chances Ramsey has to dictate play in the final third.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal in action during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 10, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Whether it's him surging in behind or picking out clever passes to Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, he's a threat on the ball. Everton must do all they can to limit his influence.

While Ozil is out, Arsenal can be bottled by focusing on Ramsey. It's Everton's big chance to secure three points that most teams won't get.