- Teams: Arsenal v Middlesbrough: Cazorla out, Elneny in
- Team news: Wenger’s update on Ramsey, Welbeck, Giroud & Cazorla
- Preview: Arsenal v Boro, team news, line-up & prediction
- [Photos] Arsenal duo step-up injury comebacks in training today
- [Photos] Arsenal boost as injury doubt trains ahead of Boro game
- Arsene Wenger sets comeback date for forgotten Arsenal man
- Arsenal boss confirms fresh injury doubt for Middlesbrough game
- Team News: Arsene Wenger offers update on Ramsey & Giroud
- Arsenal boss confirms defender could leave in January
- 4-2-3-1 v Boro: Iwobi & Cazorla out? My Arsenal starting XI
PREVIEW: Arsenal v Everton, Injury News, Preferred XI + Prediction
It’s not something many would have envisaged back in January when we were flying high at the top of the league, but tomorrow we face Everton in whats being described as a ‘Champions League showdown’.
A run of just one win in our last five league games has seen us drop down from first to fourth and has pretty-much put an end to our title hopes for another season.
If that’s not bad enough, Everton are on a terrific run and five wins on the bounce has seen them move to within just four points with a game in hand, so unfortunately, Sunday’s game is rightly being billed as a decisive game in the battle for fourth place.
If we lose, it’s out of our hands as Everton would go two points above us if they win their game in hand – which will be away at Sunderland next weekend. However, on the flip side, if we can come away with all three points we’ll be the red-hot favourites to once again qualify for the Champions League, so it’s all to play for.
The big news is that Aaron Ramsey is back in the squad after recovering from a thigh injury that’s kept him out since Christmas. The Welshman only returned to training on thursday though, so I would expect he’ll be among the subs.
Laurent Koscielny is still short of fitness but could return for next weeks FA Cup semi final with Wigan, while Mesut Ozil could also return from his hamstring injury the following week.
Nacho Monreal returns from a foot injury and is likely to replace Kieran Gibbs at left-back with the England international struggling with an ankle knock. Serge Gnabry is also a major doubt with a knee problem so he could join Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott on the sidelines.
Abou Diaby has been training this week but he’s still well short of fitness and wont be under consideration just yet.
As for Everton, Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar are expected to be missing, but Ross Barkley should recover from a minor calf problem to start.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Mikel Arteta’s lack of pace is beginning to be exposed more and more these days, particularly in the games against the top teams, and I think he’ll struggle against the youthful legs of Barkley and McCarthy in midfield. Therefore, I’d leave him out and play Flamini and Rosicky in midfield, or possibly even hand Kim Kallstrom his full debut.
The attack would then pretty-much pick itself, with Rambo kept in reserve to come off the bench in the second half to score the winner!
That’s the side I’d go with, but in reality I’d expect to see Arsene pick Mikel Arteta alongside Mathieu Flamini in midfield. Lukas Podolski will most likely drop to the bench with Tomas Rosicky replacing him in attack.
This is going to be an extremely tough game, make no mistake about it. We do have a very good record against Everton but this is the best side they’ve had for many a year and Roberto Martinez has them playing some great football.
If we play like we did in the second half against Man City from the off, then we’ll have a great chance. As long as we avoid defeat we’re still in the driving seat for fourth, but I’m going to back the boys to edge it.
Everton 1-2 Arsenal COYG!!!!
What are your thoughts ahead of the game? Confident?