By Chris Harris
Liverpool was tricky, Manchester United was tough, but Saturday's trip to Everton could be Arsenal's sternest test of the season so far.
Arsène Wenger's side have a pretty mediocre record at Goodison Park while David Moyes' side are one of the Premier League's form horses. Their only defeat in 14 matches was an ill-deserved, last-gasp loss at Old Trafford before Christmas.
Everton have pace, power, creativity and, since the signing of Yakubu and the return to fitness of Tim Cahill, a real cutting edge. If any team is going to break into the 'Big Four' this season, you suspect it will be them.
We spoke to Dominic King of the Liverpool Echo ahead of Saturday's game at Goodison Park. Read on for his take on Everton's season so far, the influence of Cahill, the impact of the new signings and the tactical approach of Moyes.
THE STORY SO FAR
"They have been in terrific form. Whether the Merseyside derby defeat was the thing they needed to jolt them into life I don't know but it certainly seems that way. The run of form has been fantastic. This is comfortably the best squad David Moyes has had. The significant thing now is when he takes one of his big guns out of the team he's got quality to replace them with. They say you need two players for every position and it's definitely getting that way. The top four and the Champions League will certainly be the aim. Christmas is a hugely important time so they need to keep their run of form going with some tough games ahead."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"The goals that Tim Cahill brings from midfield are absolutely phenomenal. He's got the knack of being in the right place at the right time which is absolutely priceless for a manager to be able to call upon. But not only that, people underestimate the drive and determination Cahill brings to the team. He can make things happen in games when things might be going a bit flat. Mikel Arteta is also important to Everton but the pressure has been taken off him a little by the form of Steven Pienaar, who's on loan from Borussia Dortmund. His influence has grown and grown with every game he plays."
"Leighton Baines has been terrific, I think he'll be England's left back in a couple of years, maybe even next season. He's got everything you want from a defender. Jagielka is settling in and in recent weeks he's looked like he's got to grips with things. Yakubu's goals have been a huge bonus, he's right up there with the top scorers in the league and I think this will be the season where he'll finally get 20 goals. There aren't any obvious areas which need strengthening in the Everton squad but the manager has made no secret of the fact that he wants to bring in another midfielder, maybe someone with a bit of stature, someone with strength who can pick a pass. He might be after a left-sided midfielder as well but I don't think there's a pressing need to bring players in as there was a couple of years ago."
"David Moyes will set Everton up the same way he always does. He favours a 4-1-4-1 formation with Lee Carsley sitting deep in midfield and Arteta, Cahill, Pienaar and maybe Thomas Gravesen and then Yakubu up front. As usual Everton will be difficult to beat and they will try to cause problems if and when they can."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"I think the view of Arsenal on Merseyside is the same around the country. They are a fabublous side, comfortably the best in the league to watch. Arsène Wenger has done an absolutely magnificent job, they have a really impressive team developing. It's always good to see Arsenal at Goodison because you know they are going to play good football."