Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side take on Everton on Tuesday, so to find out more we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Dave Prentice for their views.
Everton generally play cautiously when travelling away to top five clubs, but David Moyes’ approach at White Hart Lane last weekend was more adventurous than usual, perhaps in recognition that Everton require wins against fellow challengers for the Champions League places, to keep their hopes of fourth place alive.
At the Emirates, Moyes has often instructed his wide players to play defensive roles, remaining in deep positions and shutting off the passing angles towards Arsenal’s wingers. Here, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas might be given more freedom, staying in positions where they can launch quick counter-attacks.
Leighton Baines’ delivery is exceptional, and as the most-fouled side in the Premier League this season, Everton have plenty of opportunities to whip the ball into the boxMichael Cox
Everton’s attacking gameplan is based around using the wings effectively. Central midfielder Darron Gibson is crucial to this approach, playing simple lateral passes to switch the play between the flanks - an approach replicated by his midfield colleague Leon Osman, who also shuttles forward to create neat passing triangles on the wings, allowing Everton to work the ball into crossing positions.
On the left, Pienaar’s understanding with Leighton Baines means Everton boast the most effective wing partnership in the division. The South African drifts inside to create space for Baines to overlap into, and the England left back has created a league-high 102 chances for teammates in 2012/13.
On the opposite flank, Mirallas is more direct on the ball and dribbles past opponents at speed, while Seamus Coleman but has pace and energy.
Arsenal must defend crosses effectively on Tuesday. Marouane Fellaini will be the primary target - he breaks forward from an advanced midfield position, so his runs can be difficult to track. He’s also capable of playing towards the left, pinning back the opposition’s right-sided centre back to collect forward chips from Baines on his chest, bringing Pienaar into play.
Set-pieces are a major source of attacks for Everton. Baines’ delivery is exceptional, and as the most-fouled side in the Premier League this season, Everton have plenty of opportunities to whip the ball into the box.
At the back, Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka have a reliable centre-back partnership, although using Johnny Heitinga in front of them, as an extra shield for the defence, is an option if Moyes is afraid of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere’s creativity.
DAVE PRENTICE, LIVERPOOL ECHO
It's an absolutely huge game for both clubs, perhaps even more significant for Everton than it is for Arsenal. Everton would be very much in the mix for Champions League qualification with a win but if they lose, I think the focus will shift to the Europa League.
David Moyes is very good at taking pressure off his players. At his press conference on Monday, he said that Everton have a 15 per cent chance of reaching the Champions League. It helps if the players go out with lower expectations. Don't be misled though, the Everton players believe they can do it - they have a stronger sense of conviction than they may admit publicly.
For me, the player of the season has been Leighton Baines again. He's been a huge influence on the team throughout the season and I think he has created more goalscoring opportunities than any other player in EuropeDave Prentice
Everton have had such a successful season because a number of players have stood out. Marouane Fellaini was outstanding for the first four months of the campaign. For me, the player of the season has been Leighton Baines again. He's been a huge influence on the team throughout the season and I think he has created more goalscoring opportunities than any other player in Europe. For a left back, that's not bad going! Kevin Mirallas, when available, has also been a game changer. He's been influential in the past few months along with Victor Anichebe, who has finally started to believe what a good player he can be. He's looking like what I would call a proper Everton No 9 now.
Everton have never won at the Emirates and you worry that some places could turn into bogey grounds. They have had a few near misses in recent years, though. There may be a lack of belief that they can go to Arsenal and win, given how well Arsène Wenger's team are playing at the moment.
I think it will be a score draw. I'll go for 1-1 or 2-2. But that won't really help either team.Copyright 2013 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 16 Apr 2013