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Arsenal v Everton: Gunners poised to reach summit

Arsenal have started to find their stride this season and will go top of the Premier League with victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger’s men have scored 11 goals on their way to winning their last three top-flight fixtures, and got their Champions League campaign back on track with a 2-0 win against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

The Gunners thumped Manchester United 3-0 in their last home league match – a result from which Louis van Gaal’s side bounced back with victory by the same scoreline at Goodison Park last time out.

“It was a really bad day for us, one of those results you couldn’t see coming, you couldn’t expect and as a team we want to be back to reach our level,” Everton manager Roberto Martinez said of the United defeat.

“We’ll have to do it in one of the hardest arenas in the league and against one of the hardest opponents. Look at what they’ve achieved in the last few weeks and especially against Bayern Munich, we know we’re going to find a team in their best moment of confidence and belief.

“But in the same manner we need to look at ourselves and react to our performance at the weekend.”

And Martinez does not anticipate Arsenal will display any ill-effects from their memorable Champions League result.

“I wouldn’t say that a team as experienced in those [European] nights as Arsenal would suffer a hangover,” he added. “I don’t expect them to have any negative effect. 

“If anything, they get an incredible momentum after that victory and they’ve got a big enough squad to find fresh legs if they need to and Arsene Wenger is the best man in doing that.

“Historically it’s not a fixture we do too well in at our football club so it’s another incentive for us.”

Arsenal have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League meetings with Everton, but four of the last six have ended all square.

With leaders Manchester City taking on rivals Manchester United – currently level on points with Arsenal – on Sunday, a win for Wenger’s side would see them go a point clear at the summit for the time being.

Danny Welbeck (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (knee) all remain sidelined, while Aaron Ramsey picked up a hamstring injury against Bayern and his facing a spell out of action.

Everton, meanwhile, could welcome back Tom Cleverley following an ankle problem, and Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo are also nearing a return.

Key Opta stats:

– Petr Cech has the best saves to shots ratio of any goalkeeper in the Premier League so far in 2015-16 (82.1 per cent).
– Cech has now kept 167 Premier League clean sheets, just two away from David James’ record (169) in the competition.
– Olivier Giroud has netted four goals in the Gunners’ last four meetings with Everton in all competitions.
– Theo Walcott has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 15 Premier League starts for Arsenal (12 goals, three assists).
– Romelu Lukaku has now scored 47 Premier League goals – only four players have reached 50 PL goals before the age of 23 and the Belgian will become the fifth if he scores three more goals this season.

Thu 22 Oct, 2015
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