Before every Arsenal fixture, we'll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners' next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side take on Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Dave Prentice.
Having already met Everton twice this season, Arsenal should be fully prepared for Roberto Martinez’s side ahead of this weekend’s trip to Goodison Park.
Everton were authoritative and confident in possession on their two trips to the Emirates - drawing 1-1 in the league before losing 4-1 in an FA Cup tie (which was closer than the scoreline suggests) and they’re even better at Goodison Park, averaging 2.4 points per game at home this season.
Martinez has encouraged a more positive, proactive style of football than his predecessor David Moyes, and has strengthened the squad significantly, particularly in the final third.
The revelation of the season has been Ross Barkley, who has performed excellently against Arsenal three times in the past 12 monthsMichael Cox
The Toffees are particularly good at winning games in the final 15 minutes. Last weekend’s win at Fulham showed the extent of Martinez’s squad, with Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith coming off the bench to turn a 1-1 into a 3-1.
Everton usually keep a defensive ‘square’ in position - the two centre backs and the two central midfielders rarely advance. Phil Jagielka could return after injury, but his understudy John Stones has performed very well alongside Sylvain Distin, while Gareth Barry and James McCarthy have an excellent relationship deep in midfield.
This allows the full backs to advance, and while Leighton Baines has been one of the Premier League’s best left backs for a while, Seamus Coleman has been equally impressive this season. Less of a crosser than Baines, but more of a direct goal threat, Arsenal must be extremely wary of his forward runs.
The revelation of the season has been Ross Barkley, who has performed excellently against Arsenal three times in the past 12 months. He’s capable of dropping deep to overload the midfield, darting either side to find pockets of space, or storming forward to score - his brilliant 50-yard run and goal against Newcastle recently underlined his goal threat.
Barkley faces a late fitness test, but could be Everton’s main threat.
Martinez has a plethora of talented wingers to call upon. Mirallas has a great turn of pace, Barcelona loanee Gerard Delofeu boasts brilliant dribbling skills and hit a fine equaliser at the Emirates in December, while Aiden McGeady and Naismith are both capable of playing on either flank and running directly with the ball. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar, two of the old guard, tend to drift inside more frequently.
Up front, Romelu Lukaku has returned from a spell out injured and, while still young, is the complete all-round striker on paper, capable of linking play, scoring with his head and sprinting in behind the opposition defence.
DAVE PRENTICE, LIVERPOOL ECHO
This game is going to be huge. If Arsenal win, I think fourth place will be pretty much nailed on. If Everton win, you would have to say that the door would be very much ajar and they would be confident of seeing the job through.
Everton are very confident. They have won five in a row in the league and have some real momentum. Roberto Martinez has accepted that the displays haven’t been as good as the results have been, but there have been some signs in the last couple of games that performances are picking up as well. There’s a lot of confidence around the place.
If Arsenal are leading in the second half, the game won’t be over.Dave Prentice
They have scored late goals all season. I think that a substitute has scored after being brought on 13 times this season - so be wary if he brings anyone on in the last 20 minutes! Everton have scored more goals in the last 10 minutes than any other team in the Premier League this season. If Arsenal are leading in the second half, the game won’t be over.
They were excellent in the league game at Emirates Stadium earlier in the season. In last month’s FA Cup fixture, they made some sloppy mistakes and were quite disappointing all round.
The atmosphere at Goodison Park will be great. In 2005 - when Everton last finished in fourth place - there was a famous game against Manchester United at a similar stage of the season. The atmosphere that night was sensational, it certainly rattled United and Everton won. That was pivotal to them finishing in the top four and they will be hoping for something similar this weekend.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 4 Apr 2014