Those worrying about the trip to Wolves following the midweek games get some respite from those concerns. This afternoon we travel to Everton to put our two wins in nine away Premier League games up against their two home wins in the last nine Premier League games.
It’s got draw written all over it. And that will be enough to send us back to third on goals scored. However, will it be enough in the context of the run-in? I don’t think so.
The team news for the match isn’t bursting with sunshine in that sense. Koscielny and Xhaka are both “being assessed” but unlike Ramsey, they didn’t take part in the latest training session. Or maybe they did and the photographers complied with the request not to take snaps of them. Subtefuge and all that…
It’s unlikely given Unai told the press they were working with the physios.
Just as with Wolves, there is a danger in building the opposition up too much in your own minds. Everton, don’t get me wrong, have some good results under their belts in the three or four games but not all of them are impressive. Beating Chelsea and drawing the Merseyside derby, however, point to a team which can raise its game for the big occasion and that, I suspect, is the Everton we must overcome.
Just to point out, we’ve only lost one of the last five at Goodison Park. That’s the Arsenal Everton must overcome: bogey team.
You can read too much into the past, however. How far do you go back before bogey becomes favoured, etc? This season is the only measure which really matters and we’ve been pitiful on our travels since the draw at Old Trafford.
That was a costly night in more ways than one.
Talk the Talk, Now Walk the Walk
That Unai Emery felt the away warranted comment is telling:
We are thinking game by game and we know we have five of seven matches away. For us it’s a big challenge, away [from home] we want to achieve the same good performances as when we play at Emirates Stadium.Unai tells it like it is
The reality is confidence is hard to come by away from but scraping the win in Huddersfield proved enough of a boost for us to go to Wembley and snatch a point from the jaws of victory.
Mesut Ozil is a running theme at present. Emery pointed out that he is no different from any member of the squad:
He’s working very well, playing very well, he’s helping us. I’m very happy with him. I think the team has a good atmosphere, good spirit with each player helping us with their qualities and good behaviour. That’s the spirit I want, they are doing that, and Mesut is like the others [in that regard].We’ve got Ozil…
Murmurings of Emery ‘ruining’ the player continue on social media but at present, his performances are better than they were. I still think he can deliver more and having re-watched Monday night’s game, am still baffled over how he got Man of the Match. Hopefully, his performance this afternoon will make the decision much more clear cut.
The line-up I think Emery will go with ought to make that possible:
Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette
Choosing his strikers is maybe the toughest call. I know we’d like to see PEA and Lacazette start but frankly, it leaves us too open, especially with Koscielny, Xhaka and Torreira absent. I can’t see the pair playing and while PEA is the main goalscorer, Lacazette is more the team man.
The last word, however, goes to Emery. He openly talks about third, claiming the immediacy is more important than the long-term today.
If we win, we are third. If we don’t win, we can’t hold this position. But football is each moment to enjoy, to prepare, to work, to play. It depends if we are efficient on the pitch. If we are – for 90 minutes – competitive, then I think we can achieve these three points.Carpe diem.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.