By Randy Osae
Both Arsenal and Everton can reflect on relentless toils given on some strenuous travels in the past fortnight or two.
Arsenal dealt with resurgent ambiances at minors Hull and Cardiff cities while in the Toffee’s case, it was epic Merseyside derbies at hand. Neither side return rattled from those treks and now a test of who has more exertion left in them will be in the offing at Goodison Park.
Proving points in every single game has become Arsene Wenger’s men’s orthodoxy ever since glitches began to mark on their title credentials.
If anything, this is the time to display the tireless character of a team capable of keeping up with the aces.
Beware; this match-up is no foregone conclusion – when there are scarcely any in this tough campaign. David Moyes’ men are well equipped to not just put the Gunners’ title mount on trial but sink them into farther burdens too. Everton lie just behind Arsenal at sixth on the table and causing Wenger’s men to succumb on Wednesday night could see them get within reach of leapfrogging.
Thankfully, there is a reason to sight an Arsenal success at the North-West. Since a lately inflicted 1-0 defeat in this fixture during the closing stages of the 2006/07 campaign, Arsenal have put in a class act every time they show up against the Toffees. All the latest three confrontations have been decided in the Gunners’ favor, with last season’s corresponding fixture and October’s meeting at the Emirates resulting in staggering second-half comebacks – 4-1 and 3-1 respectively.
To state it simply, Arsenal do have a prolific record against Everton. But many may bet Wednesday’s battle will be nip and tuck.
Wenger’s side is targeting a league double over Everton in this trip, but mind you, Goodison Park has been unkind ever since Ashley Young notched a cruel injury-time winner for Villa some weeks back. Not a single goal has gone past Moyes’ men at their ground since, and neither has an opposition left there with three cheers.
Gallas will be available for selection to play his first game of 2009 while Clichy returns from suspension, but Silvestre, Fabregas, Walcott, Eduardo and Rosicky remain on lay-off.