Everton v Arsenal preview
It’s been an interesting few days in the world of premier league football, what with FA Cup weekends causing dispersed fixtures and athletes with seemingly full health succumbing to the unpredictability of the human form. It goes almost without saying that the vast majority wish him a speedy recovery, and the latest news reports are certainly emanating from a more positive than negative field.
The FA have released a statement declaring that they intend to do more to safeguard the health of their athletes, but with Muamba having already had four check-ups since 2008 it seems to me as if these freak occurrences are just that, and there’s really not too much that can be done to prevent them.
Many have said that the FA are simply a reactionary body who don’t do enough to prevent instances such as this from happening, yet the Tottenham team have all requested full heart checks in response to this rather shocking incident, which is in itself reactionary. I personally do not begrudge either’s reactions; no one can see this sort of thing coming.
Moving on to the Arsenal game and the squad will be more of the same from what I can gather, which at the moment is surely no bad thing.
Thomas Vermaelen had a knock apparently but is fine to play, Andre Santos is back in the squad but will almost certainly be parked on the bench and the usual subjects from recent weeks will all be present.
This is a mature team with plenty of grit and premier league experience now, and the interspersing of some of our young starlets like Wojciech Szczesny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain brings a very nice balance of youth and exuberance, couple that with the reinvigoration of Tomas Rosicky and we seem to have stumbled across a very strong team.
Everton are on a nice little run in the Premier League so it is unlikely to be a walk in Goodison Park, they have only lost in one of their last eight league games, and have won their last three home games against Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham.
The full three points will not be easily come by, yet if we perform as we have done in the recent past I can’t see us not winning.
Aside from Stoke they are currently the least injury plagued team in the league, so we can expect them to be throwing everything they have at us come 8pm Wednesday.
Thus my team would look like this:
Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Van Persie.
It will be an emotional return for our immaculately well gelled Spaniard who will be sitting in the away changing room for the first time at Goodison, I’m sure the Everton faithful will give him the rousing ovation he deserves after so many years of giving his all for the shirt, while at the same time I’m sure he will be happy with no less than the three points.
Gervinho hasn’t shown enough in my book to knock Chamberlain from his perch just yet, and I’m more than happy for us to ride his wave all the way to the end of the season and beyond.
Walcott is looking to increase his on field productivity which is no bad thing; if he can step up and be a player that wins us games in the coming weeks I’m sure it will more than make up for any lackadaisical showings he’s displayed since Christmas.
The back four selects itself at the moment, at least until Santos is fully fit and ready to challenge.
That’s as much as I can give this week, be sure to return for player ratings and the like on Thursday.
(Follow halls_dja for more news and views on twitter, if you have the inclination).