Marouane Fellaini is suspended as Gunners look to build on victory over Wolves...
Arsenal steamrolled past Everton in this fixture last season, running riot with a mammoth 6-1 victory on opening day. That was the start of what proved to be a disappointing period before the Toffees slowly caught up through the second-half of last term to navigate their way to a modest eighth-placed finish.
But such a shock is unlikely this time out, as Moyes’ men are currently on an undefeated run that has lasted seven games. To add more weight to their form, the Merseysiders have conceded just 11 goals so far this season, with only Chelsea (five) and Manchester United (10) having let in fewer.
But what has been worrying the gaffer all along is the lack of goals, as his strikers have had some trouble finding the back of the net. And with a clash against the Gunners looming large on the horizon, he has called on his charges to take the game to their opponents.
"We are creating opportunities without making them into chances.
"We had opportunities against Bolton but never made the goalkeeper make any saves.
"We had opportunities to make him make saves but didn't hit the target, didn't shoot or didn't cross at the right time. A little bit of decision-making is part of it."
He added: "I don't think Arsenal will be coming to Goodison trying to stifle Everton.
"I think they will come and do what we would do, they will play their game.
"But when you play Arsenal or any other team near the top you have to play well to get a result."
Tricky Trip To Goodison
The situation that presents itself to the Gunners is very different from the one that saw them put some serious daylight between themselves and these opponents last season.
The visitors only recently returned to winning ways, as two goals from Chamakh during midweek were enough to secure three points against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And the scoreline was arguably an untrue reflection of the game, as Mick McCarthy’s charges put in a resolute performance on the day. But a win is a win and the three points are all that really matter, as the Toffees await the Londoners' arrival on Merseyside.
Recent history favours the travellers, as they remain undefeated in their last six games against Everton. And Goodison Park has also proven to be good hunting ground for the Gunners, as they have scored 11 goals in their last three visits to the Blues’ backyard.
But having just endured a bit of a rough patch in the form of two losses before the hard fought victory over Wolves, Wenger’s men will need to put in a strong performance to restore lost confidence.
This will be particularly important, with a north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur coming right up after this encounter. And with table-toppers Chelsea five points away, anything less than three points could cause some damage to the club’s hopes of winning the Premier League.
Victor Anichebe (knee), Leon Osman (ankle) and Ross Barkley (broken leg) are all out with their respective injuries, and will play no part in this encounter.
David Moyes will also be without Marouane Fellaini, who will start his three-match suspension following the red card he receved in the last game against Bolton Wanderers. John Heitinga has recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the 1-1 draw with the Trotters, and he would be expected to play in place of the banned Belgian.
Jermaine Beckford put in a noteworthy performance during midweek, but the gaffer believes that he still needs more time to adapt to life in the top-flight. And with Louis Saha having played 80 minutes of the game against Owen Coyle’s charges, Yakubu is likely to be played as the lone man up front.
Possible starting XI: Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Arteta, Heitinga, Pienaar; Cahill; Yakubu.
Kieran Gibbs has shaken off a knee problem to return to the squad, but has played only 19 minutes for the first-team since September. So manager Arsene Wenger is unlikely to hand the youngster a start.
Manuel Almunia (elbow) remains sidelined, but recent performances from Lukasz Fabianski have been positive and haven’t given the gaffer any significant cause for concern.
Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) also remains injured, as does Abou Diaby (ankle).
Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky were used in the midweek trip to play Wolverhampton Wanderers, so the manager could bring in Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri for this fixture.
Nicklas Bendtner may have been in line for a start at Goodison Park, but Marouane Chamakh’s brace against Mick McCarthy’s men in midweek means that the Morocco international is likely to make the line-up.
Possible starting line-up: Fabianski; Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Wilshere; Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri; Chamakh.
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