Arsenal V Everton at Emirates Stadium : Match Preview

08 December 2013 04:35
Arsenal V Everton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Walcott keen to prove worth

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is determined to remind people just what an asset he is for both club and country this season.

The 24-year-old has just returned to action after almost two months sidelined by an abdominal problem which required minor surgery.

Walcott was Arsenal's leading scorer last season, and an integral part of Roy Hodgson's squad as they battled to secure a place at the 2014 World Cup.

With the Gunners top of the Barclays Premier League and the now qualified Three Lions set for a tough group stage against Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica next summer, Walcott is confident his domestic form can book a seat on the plane to Brazil.

"The first priority is to play well for Arsenal to make sure I am there," said Walcott, who was a controversial omission from Fabio Capello's final squad for the 2010 World Cup, a tactical decision which the Italian coach has since admitted was wrong.

"It is healthy to have competition (for places), we all want to see English players playing really well

"I bounced back from the disappointment of 2010 with a very good season for Arsenal, and then last season I finished as top goalscorer, which was a massive personal achievement."

Arsenal are certainly in confident mood ahead of Sunday's showdown with Everton at the Emirates Stadium, having recorded a sixth straight home Premier League win when beating Hull 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Walcott - who on Friday visited the Teenage Cancer Trust facility in University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre, which is supported by the Arsenal Foundation - feels the Gunners have the firepower to maintain their good form against the Toffees.

He said: "Everton had a great result against United, but they will be coming to the Emirates to tackle the best team in the Premier League at this moment in time, and with what we have got going forwards, I don't think Everton will be able to deal with that."

Arsenal will again be without full-back Bacary Sagna (hamstring).

Manager Arsene Wenger reported no fresh injuries for the league leaders from their midweek win over Hull, when several first-team players were rested.

German forward Lukas Podolski is back in training after his hamstring injury, but not yet match fit. Forward Yaya Sanogo (back), midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) are all still sidelined.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes victory over defending champions Manchester United was ideal preparation for taking on current league leaders Arsenal.

The Toffees ended a run of 21 years without a win at Old Trafford in midweek and are now looking to break a similar, if slightly shorter, sequence on the Gunners' home turf.

Graham Stuart and Andrei Kanchelskis were the goalscorers when Everton last won at Arsenal in January 1996 but Martinez has brought a belief to the club - strengthened by the win over United - which raises hopes of an end to their misery in north London.

"I don't think we've played with fear at all this season," said Martinez, who has won at the Emirates with Wigan in April 2012.

"We beat Chelsea at home and to beat Manchester United away showed an incredible improvement to our performance from Manchester City (Everton's only defeat of the season so far back in October).

"I felt when we went to City we didn't have the right belief in our performance but I think we showed that at Old Trafford.

"Arsenal deserve a lot of respect because if you win 11 of your first 14 games you are the outstanding team in the competition.

"We are looking at ourselves to try to use this as a terrific test to see how quickly we can improve and challenge these sides.

"The Emirates Stadium is one of the hardest places to go and be yourself.

"Arsenal as an attacking team are as good as it gets and their movement and forward play requires maximum concentration in everything you do.

"From our point of view we are ready for that test. We are excited about challenging the best team in the league so far."

Centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, who has yet to make his debut after a summer move because of injury, travelled with the team to Old Trafford and could come into the matchday 18 in north London.

Left-back Leighton Baines is still three to four weeks away from recovering from a broken toe while striker Arouna Kone and midfielder Darron Gibson are long-term absentees.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44