Following their tremendous, convincing win over United on the opening day of the season, Everton preceded to take the Premier League by storm for the opening few months of the season. Normally slow starters in the league, the bucked the trend and have been one of the surprise packages in the league so far, with Baines and Fellaini standing out as key performers so far.
The swift attacking movements down the left hand side, with Pienaar and Baines in tandem, plus the added twist when Fellaini drifts into an almost inside left role can be very hard to deal with. Fellaini has progressed into one of the top midfielders in the league, after being deployed in an advanced role so far and is becoming one of the hottest properties in Europe right now. The attacking flair shown by these three also adds an extra element to the usual fierce determination and grit that you get with any Moyes side. Everton have been a lot more attacking this year, with the additions of Naismith and Mirallas adding a blend of pace and technique which have changed the whole dynamic of the side, with Everton possessing a genuine threat down both the right and left hand side.
Moyes bases is side on a solid defence, with Jagielka and Distin forming a formidable partnership at the heart of defence. Jagielka has for a long time been rated as one of the best defenders in the league, and has been rewarded with some appearances for England lately, whilst Distin's strength makes him very hard to get the better of.
Another key performers for the Toffees has been Osman in the centre of midfield. His stunning form earned him his first England cap in the recent friendly against Sweden. Osman epitomises what Moyes wants form his side, by possessing good technical ability and quickly moving the ball out to the flanks as well as being strong in the tackle. The recent addition of free transfer Thomas Hitzlsberger will only helped that, as the experienced German knows all about the rigours of the Premier League and playing at the highest level.
Moyes, who defended Wenger following the criticism he has received recently, like to play a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Baines and Coleman as attacking fullbacks, and Fellaini playing just behind a strong striker in Jelavic.
Yet despite their great start, things have not been as rosy in the last few weeks for David Moyes. His side have struggled recently with injuries and suspensions taking their toll on the small squad. 1 win in 7, against a very poor Sunderland side is not the greatest form, especially for a side with aims of finishing in the top four.
A draw with QPR, defeat at Reading and most recently a draw with Norwich at home have been the most disappointing results in the last few games, and Moyes will be looking to rekindle some of the great form that they started the season with, with a win tonight.
He is set to welcome Fellaini back into the side following his suspension. The Everton boss is also known for being able to get his players up for these big encounters, and any trip to Goodison Park is also ways going to be a difficult match for any side. The blues have already defeated Manchester United and, it will take a big performance to take three points from tonight's fixture.
The 3 key players that we have to watch tonight are:
Nikica Jelavic - The Croatian has been very impressive ever since he joined from Rangers last January, and was exactly what Everton needed. He settled straight into the side, and managed to score 11 goals in 16 appearances before the end of the season. His Strength and Power from his 6ft 2in frame, make him a match for any defenders and he always causes problems for different defences. But the Croatian international also has superb technique to add to his power. He may only have 5 goals in 12 appearances this year, but with Arsenal's defence regularly being questioned over performances, he will certainly have some influence on the match.
Leighton Baines - Baines has developed significantly over the last few years, and is arguably one of the best left backs in the world right now. As previously stated, he has a great connection down the left with Steven Pienaar, who drifts inside to let Baines drive on and use his excellent crossing ability. The way he gets up and down the left is a joy to behold at times, whilst his defending is certainly underestimated. Not many right wingers tend to get the better of him. Moreover, Baines is always a threat from set plays and has 2 goals and 2 assists already this season. Not bad for a left back. Considering we have always had problems defending set pieces and crosses, we will definitely have to watch out for Baines, and try and limit the amount of fouls we give away. *Vermaelen are you listening?*
Marouane Fellaini - Marouane is definitely the main man for Everton though, and is set to return to their starting line up following a one match suspension. The Belgian international has used his height and power to drive them forward from midfield. His powerful surging runs are second only to Yaya Toure in that sense, and cause all sorts of problems for any defence. Arsenal's midfield is likely to feature Cazorla - Arteta - Wilshere as its central three, and it will be significant that Fellaini has at least 6 inches on all of them in terms of height. He is regularly used in the air and likes to take the ball down and spread play out wide, which we cannot let happen on a regular basis, whoever is in midfield will have to close him down quickly and try and stop him from influencing the match. We will also have to be weary of his late runs into the box which have helped him to 6 goals in his 12 starts this year. His finishing has definitely improved, as shown by his goals ratio, and we cant afford to give him any opportunities tonight or he will punish us.
Arsenal can definitely have some success against Everton though, if we deal with their key players well, we can lets our star men try and dominate. The midfield trio of Cazorla - Wilshere - Arteta have the technical ability to dominate the games. If we try and limit the space in midfield, we can let them run the show. The return of Walcott to the squad will certainly help us. As his pace can exploit the gaps left behind by Leighton Baines. Giroud can also attempt to continue his form against an Everton defence that has conceded in every one of their last 6 games.
Arsenal tend to have a good record against Everton, who have not beaten us in the last 10 games. We also have a better record against Everton than any other Premier League side. It will take a big performance to beat the Toffees tonight, but we are certainly capable, and following the disappointment of Saturday's dismal performance, it will certainly improve the feeling across the squad.
Here's to three points, Come On Arsenal!