Everton vs. Arsenal: Can the Gunners Cause an Upset at the Goodison Park?

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Everton vs. Arsenal: Can the Gunners Cause an Upset at the Goodison Park?
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Arsenal travel to Goodison Park on Sunday to take on Everton, a team on rich vein of form in recent weeks after a shocking start to their season.

The Toffees have comfortably moved away from the relegation hassle to midtable and will be hoping to qualify for Europe after having missed out the qualification spots in the 2009-10 season.

It goes without saying that the Toffees are a tough side to beat at home or away, but Arsenal will have to get three points to keep pace on Chelsea as well to make up for the baffling defeats they suffered at home to newcomers West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United.

Arsenal's recent form does have a story in itself which is not a story that Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger would like to hear again and again. The Gunners are well known for keeping the possession for incredibly long periods, be it home or away, but in recent games, surprisingly, they have failed to do so.

This is a real cause for concern. Arsenal's most potent weapons are their ability to keep possession and slick passing; in recent games they have been anything but that.

Arsenal got back to winning ways in midweek at Molineux with a comfortable 2-0 scoreline even though the game was played in Arsenal's half for almost two quarters. Speaking on performance, it was a nightmare and had Wolverhampton been more clinical in front of goal it could have been a different story.

It also showed an unfamiliar face of Arsenal defying the norms that described them in recent years. It was a rough and tough Arsenal on show at the Molineux, with tackles flying around.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Lukasz Fabianski yet again showed why he's the most confident person in London at this moment. Not many times you would hear about a goalkeeper playing a big part in Arsenal's win but against Wolves, rightly, the goalkeeper was one of the standout performers.

Marouane Chamakh's brilliant brace in midweek also means a selection headache for Wenger. Certainly, Robin Van Persie is ready to start, but where? When fit, he used to be an automatic starter, but now Wenger has options galore on his hands to choose from.

Andrei Arshavin is the misfiring gun in the forward line, so it shouldn't surprise if Van Persie replaces him on the left flank against Everton. Having played as a left winger to begin with, Van Persie wouldn't find himself out of place on the flanks, and his magical left foot can also weigh inch-perfect crosses for the "head-master" Chamakh.

Plus, the goal-threat and vision that Van Persie could provide from the wings ensure that there is more than one reason to justify his selection on the wings if that does happen.

That's a tough call to make but one thing is not tough to figure out: Arshavin needs to be on the bench more often for all his awful work on the field.

Everton will consider themselves lucky at the weekend if Wenger opts for Arshavin as it would expose Gael Clichy, and going forward, Phil Jagielka and Co. will only have to worry about wayward shooting and misplaced passes. That's the type of worry you relish.

Arsenal's misfiring captain, Cesc Fabregas, has lately been learning the art of tackling, with an eye on dislodging Barcelona's Sergio Busquets to take up the defensive midfield slot when his "long-cherished dream" to play for his boyhood club becomes a reality.

However, the question that persists after the Wolves game is whether he's taking the coaching from Paolo Maldini or Roy Keane.

Coming to the point, he needs to step up and find his passing rhythm as well as his shooting boots which has alienated him in recent games. It wouldn't be a bad option to give him some time out to work on his fitness and start Samir Nasri—who rested against Wolves in midweek—in a playmaking position.

Meanwhile, you would be wondering why folks are dyeing their hair white. If you didn't know, that's what you have to do to score goals and tee up accurate crosses. Alex Song's steady progress toward becoming one of the best in his position has taken a new twist which saw him scoring and assisting critical goals this season.

If he could only improve on his long-range shooting, you could be looking at the next Michael Essien.

Everton, on the other hand, along with Liverpool, had been struggling since the start of the season. When these two teams met in the Merseyside Derby they decided to initiate "Operation Merseyside Midtable", at which time both teams were facing the ignominy of a potential relegation.

Guess who was the mastermind behind the resurgence? Linda Pizzuti. With the beauty to kill for, the gorgeous lady with an envious smile has charmed Merseyside with her aphrodisiac presence.

The spellbound players have been transforming that magic on to the pitch which explains how an out-of-form Fernando Torres curled the exquisite rainbow-ish goal against the Champions Chelsea, and how Steven Gerrard inspired his team with a hat trick to come from behind to beat Napoli.

Back to the preview mode of the game, Everton, like Arsenal, enjoyed success on the road with their home form not being up to the expected high standards thus far. That's a positive for the Gunners.

Everton will also have to do without Marouane Fellaini who is suspended as a result of his red card against Bolton in a hard fought 1-1 draw in midweek.

What does that mean? The highly rated Seamus Coleman, who has been one of the flag bearers in the Toffees revival after their dismal start to the campaign, gets another chance to shine.

With Baines, Coleman, Arteta, Cahill and Yakubu in good form, Moyes will be hoping that his team can thwart Arsenal's title surge. Last season, in the corresponding fixture, Arsenal dismantled Everton with an embarrassing 6-1 scoreline thanks to the self-destructing work of Joleon Lescott.

It wouldn't be easy this time around without Lescott, and expect Everton to give Arsenal a good run for their money.

Prediction:

Although Everton has not relished playing Arsenal in recent years, expect a very tough game for the Gunners. Even when the Toffees are not on song, they generate an extra bit of effort while playing the top teams. Now that they are in good form, it will be tough for Arsenal to take all three points without improving the game in midfield, which looked awfully mediocre this past week or so.

I would try a 2-2 draw.

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