AFC

A different kind of Pressure: Everton hosts Arsenal

Wow, feels good to be able to hit the keyboard again without feeling much pain with the plaster and bandage off my fingers all is well again, haven’t written anything since the preview for the draw against City and nothing really of note has happened aside from the return of Aaron Ramsey which is the best piece of news I have heard in these first few days in April. Ramsey was hugely instrumental to our run at the summit of the league early on not just with his goals but also his tackles both of which we have been missing since his departure through injury. Don’t think we can expect him to start against Everton but with the pressure to qualify yet again for the Champions league on again we can use any player who is available and one with Ramsey’s talents are more than welcome.

 “Financially, the pressure is less,” claimed Wenger. “On a sporting side it is greater because we have been the leader of the league this season so not to make it… the pressure is bigger.“We want to be in there, but it’s down to our results in our last six games to make sure that happens.What plays a part is the memory that you have done it before, so we know we can do it.“It is (a six-pointer). For us, it’s an opportunity to go up forward and as well an opportunity to make a distance with Everton of course. It’s both.“As I told you after the last game against Man City – we look in front of us and behind us as well. That’s what the game is about on Sunday.

The life of a premier league manager, at the start of the season he had to deal with just being competitive and then it changes to maintaining your top of the league status with no one but you thinking you are good enough to be there, then it switched to keeping pace with the new leaders of the league and now it’s back to the yearly basics of trying to qualify for the Champions League with Everton closing in on us.

Wenger’s has experience dealing with this kind of pressure, actually I’m pretty sure it would be hard to find a manager in Europe who is more skilled in guiding his team to last minute qualifications. Oh how our hearts have suffered, having to wait till the last day of the season to know if we were going to be enjoying Champions league nights. West brom a few seasons ago and then Newcastle last season….surely not experiences any of us would love to relive.

Dealing with pressure is what we all have to live with everyday but dealing with it in front of millions watching all over the world is of a different kind and that’s what we expect the Arsenal players to do when they file out to play Everton. Our last 3 encounters with them in the league have ended in draws and if our ambition is to just qualify for Europe I think a draw again would not be a bad result but Wenger has refused to give up on the league title so I would suspect he would go for an all out victory. Get a win here and with our last 6 games against sides below us and with all the teams above us still having this threesome of games with themselves who knows we might be in with a long shot.

Martinez has set up his team extremely well and it’s hard to decide which of the Merseyside teams tops the media darlings list, Liverpool or Everton and you can’t argue that they don’t deserve it. We have already written on this blog about the love Martinez has all around him so we won’t dwell on it again but he too has heaped some pressure on himself with his promise to bring Champions League football to Everton again matching the success of his predecessor David Moyes

“When David [Moyes] first came to see me, he sat down 11 years ago and we were in a bad state, and he said ‘we’re not going down’,” said Kenwright.

“Roberto’s first words were ‘I’ll get you in the Champions League’.”

Good luck to Roberto with achieving his dreams but not at Arsenal’s expense however they do have a team that can test us. Lukaku scored against us at the Emirates, Baines will trouble Sagna all though the game, Coleman is the brightest right back in the league now and Gibbs with his propensity to go forward would have to really pay attention to Coleman’s talents.  In the middle, Barry, Naismith and Mirallas might not possess the flair of midfields of the teams above us but Martinez has got them to be a very solid unit that would play at a very high tempo for 90 minutes.

Arsenal responded extremely well to going behind against City and if we can maintain that tempo from the start against Everton then I feel we can get a very good result them. Wenger seems to have found some faith in Podolski as he started him against City and that faith almost paid dividends but for Hart’s outstanding save from a well drilled Podolski shot. That is where his power lies, in front of goal Poldi and Walcott are by miles the best finishers we have but Poldi doesn’t offer much cover for Gibbs and with the Left back’s tendency to keep going forward should we intend to get anything from here the manager might have to curtail our full backs attacking instincts. They have been caught too many times in the opponents half when they start attacking us and with Per not being the fastest defender around it leaves our defence completely out of shape and we concede needless goals.

Everton have one of the best home records in the league this season (73% win and 20% Drawn) and to get anything from here we would have to work for it. I don’t think the result here really would be season defining in any way as even if we lose I think we can pick up points from all the remainder of our games with Everton still to play Man City and a seemingly rejuvenated Man United.  Would I love a win here? Definitely! Will I take a draw? Surely! Even if we fail to register any points here I won’t join the #WengerOut brigade either because we can be sure the swords would be out should that happen. I’m already in my Wembley mood and with a chance of a final so close by I won’t let anything spoil that groove.

Cheers Gooners!

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