Everton vs. Arsenal: How Gunners Can Take All 3 Points at Goodison Park
Arsenal will hope to exact revenge on the last team to beat them in a competitive fixture when they return to Goodison Park, the scene of that last defeat, to clash with Roberto Martinez and his Everton side on Saturday.
In April, the Gunners came unstuck against a resurgent Toffees in a 3-0 loss in Liverpool, but Arsene Wenger will be adamant that such a result is not repeated following their midweek draw with Besiktas.
Corralling Romelu Lukaku, who scored in that match in April, as well as curtailing the efforts of Everton's left side of attack, will be crucial to securing the Gunners the result they're after.
Read on to gauge what else the Gunners will have to do to take all three points from this intriguing Premier League encounter.
Keep Everton's Attacking Threats in Check
The most direct way of keeping Everton at bay is to disrupt Romelu Lukaku, the club's record signing, to the point where his impact on the game is so limited that the Toffees are forced to rely on other players.
Lukaku's immense power and physical stature make him a nightmare for opposing defenders to defend, and this alone will make him a difficult combatant for the Arsenal pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers.
In front of his home crowd—an environment where Arsenal have a less than impressive record—Lukaku will expect to hit the ground running in his first Goodison Park fixture as a permanent member of Everton's squad, and the Belgian will be more than geed up for the clash.
However, Koscielny has never been one to shy away from a scrap, and the Frenchman, should he be able to utilise his own pace and power to outmanoeuvre Lukaku, might be able to keep his foe at bay.
With Arsenal making their own reinforcements to combat left-sided attackers this summer, with the introduction of Mathieu Debuchy to the side as well as the workhorse presence Alexis Sanchez provides, Arsenal have the tools to out-duel Pienaar and Baines.
With the two new Gunners eager to prove what they're about, expect a lively showdown between the two sides in what will be a vital area of the battleground.
Breed Organisation and Discipline from the Back
An important and oft-overlooked part of the cause of Arsenal's downfall last season was how easily they were undone organisationally against teams they lost to on their travels. In the games against Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Saturday's opponents Everton, the discipline that had become their trademark against the lesser teams simply vanished.
With Mikel Arteta injured, Mathieu Flamini will enter the fray in his stead as Arsenal's most withdrawn midfield presence. Vocal and shrewd as an organiser, the Frenchman will ensure that his colleagues both behind him and further up the pitch keep their shape and maintain their organisation against a well-drilled Everton midfield.
Gareth Barry and James McCarthy do a sterling job running Everton's midfield, and Flamini will have to be at his most dynamic to ensure his colleagues mirror the Toffees' efforts.
What Arsenal do possess is an energetic talent in defence in Calum Chambers, who will be eager to showcase his discipline as well as his ability to make vital tackles and break out from defence with a lung-bursting run.
With Koscielny, Chambers and Flamini doing their bit to keep Arsenal's shape, Everton should find it difficult to break them down.
Utilise Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal made the headlines this summer in securing the very definition of a marquee signing in Chile's Alexis Sanchez, but thus far in the infancy of the winger's Arsenal career, his team-mates are yet to truly realise what the Chilean's greatest strengths are.
Viewers of the Besiktas clash saw glimpses of Alexis' pace, power and positional nous in how he made blinding runs on his right flank to free up Olivier Giroud on more than one occasion. Yet when he did create opportunities for his team-mates, he rarely saw such actions reciprocated despite finding himself in potentially threatening positions.
It's not unusual for new signings to take time to adapt to a new system, and this situation with Alexis is surely no exception. Yet having a player of his calibre in the squad should surely allow the play to gravitate toward the Chilean on the right side of attack.
If Arsenal are to not only defeat Everton, but defeat greater foes in the Premier League, unlocking the endless potential that Alexis possesses will be crucial.
Give him the ball in a dangerous position and allow him to test Tim Howard with his finishing. Let him co-ordinate with Giroud, Debuchy, Aaron Ramsey and his other colleagues to create a strong chemistry that goes past language barriers.
On paper, he will be the most talented and most threatening player at Goodison Park come Saturday. If Arsenal are to claim all three points, utilising Alexis is an absolute prerequisite.
What do you make of Arsenal's chances against Everton on Saturday? Let me know with a comment, or alternatively sound off on Twitter.