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Everton V Arsenal at Goodison Park : Match Preview
Published : 21 Mar 2012 16:20:19
Everton are likely to be without Darron Gibson, Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League meeting with Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Gibson is still struggling with a knee problem, while fellow midfielder Rodwell has suffered a slight recurrence of a hamstring injury and winger Coleman picked up a knock in the FA Cup draw with Sunderland on Saturday. But playmaker Steven Pienaar is back available to Toffees boss David Moyes after being cup-tied for the Black Cats clash.
Both teams will take confidence from their recent form, with Arsenal having won five league games in a row while Everton's 3-0 derby defeat by Liverpool last week was their first loss in any competition for two months.
In that time they have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham at Goodison Park, and assistant Steve Round said:
"We've had a really good run of form against the big teams of late so we are looking forward to it. "It should be a cracking game because I think Arsenal are currently top of the league on current form, they've won five on the bounce in the Premier League, we've lost one in 11 so it should be a really good game, and one both teams will go out and try hard to win."
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has shrugged off a minor calf problem to be fit. Midfielder Abou Diaby has recovered from a hamstring injury, but will not be involved in the first team after a run-out for the reserves. Francis Coquelin (hamstring) is close to a return, but centre-back Per Mertesacker (ankle) and midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain sidelined. Robin van Persie has called on his Arsenal team-mates to push themselves to the "maximum" over the remainder of the season - starting at Everton.
The Gunners head to Merseyside on the back of five straight Premier League wins which have catapulted them up into the top four. Indeed, should results go their way this week, then the Gunners could even be third heading into the next round of fixtures.
Van Persie, though, knows nothing less than 100% commitment will produce the result needed at Goodison - where rivals Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City have all been beaten this year.
"It is tough to play the way we all want. We need to be consistent and get a win over the line, like at Liverpool," Van Persie told Arsenal Player. "We did it now, and we can enjoy it, but we need to show it again (at Everton) and it may even be a harder game, but we have to give it our maximum and see where it ends."