After two good away wins, we have a couple of home games coming up, beginning tonight against Everton.
This one, of course, is our game in hand, and a win this evening would extend our lead at the top of the table to five points. After a difficult game and a poor result at Goodison Park just a few weeks ago, there’s a measure of ‘revenge’ to this one, a need to put things right.
Playing at home ought to suit us better, given that we’ll have a familiar, well manicured pitch to play on. In the away game, the Everton pitch was dry, slow and while it wasn’t the only reason we didn’t win that day, it played a part. Our inability to move the ball quickly enough was a factor in that performance, but we have to acknowledge it was a bit of an off-day too.
Mikel Arteta spoke at his press conference yesterday, saying:
It’s a case of doing things better than we did when we played them a few weeks ago and earning the right to win the game. Obviously with Sean it’s quite clear what he’s done and where the success they’ve had is coming from.
We have to look at certain matches, what they do and try to get the right tactics to beat them – and as well the same mentality and expectation of what we demand in the game.
After a well controlled performance against Leicester, it’ll be interesting to see if the boss makes any changes. If Thomas Partey is 100%, you would definitely bring him back ahead of Jorginho who has been good, but who also looked a bit leggy at the end of the last game. That extra zip in what’s likely to be a packed midfield could well be crucial.
The other decision is whether or not to recall Eddie Nketiah ahead of Leandro Trossard. Personally, I’d stick with the Belgian this evening. He was unlucky not to have a cracking goal to his name last weekend, and provided the assist for Gabriel Martinelli’s winner. His substitution for Eddie in the 70th minute was no reflection of his performance, he was probably our best attacking player on the day, and the way he plays that central position might be more useful to us tonight against an Everton side who are going to do what they did at Goodison and sit deep.
Eddie has worked on his combination play in the last 18 months and developed well, but Trossard – who plays most of his football out wide – is a bit more natural in that regard. When you consider it’s going to take slick passing and movement to pull the opposition out of shape, to make space for the chances we’ll need to win the game, he seems like the best option to me. It doesn’t mean Eddie won’t have a role to play at some point, but I’d stick with the January signing from the start.
There is an inevitable pressure with games like this in seasons like this. These points are so important, and we haven’t quite been at our best in the last couple of home games. Hopefully a good start will settle everyone down, and the support from the fans can set Everton back on their heels. It’s worth remembering we had moments against them in the away game that could easily have changed the complexion of the game. Being efficient when we get chances, using the width of the pitch to pull and stretch them, playing with a bit more pace – all of those things should help.
We know we have the quality to beat almost any team in this league, so let’s hope we can build on these last two wins and take all three points tonight.
As I mentioned yesterday, the game is not on TV in the UK and Ireland, so to help you keep up with matters, we’ll have live blog coverage for you as always. Plus all the post game stuff on Arseblog News.
The preview podcast is on Patreon now too.
Catch you later for all of that. Come on Arsenal!