This weekend’s game against Everton see’s us back in the battle for 4th place in the Premier League. For those of us who remember the words of Wenger from the beginning of the season stating we would be fighting for titles this year, it’s a bit of a disappointment to see us fighting for 4th place so late in the season. However the one thing we have on our side is history. Wenger has gone 17 straight seasons finishing in the top four and history would lead you to believe he will make it 18.
Arsenal have been hit with the injury bug in recent weeks. Missing Walcott, Wilshire, Ozil, and Ramsey for multiple weeks has clearly had an effect on the team. With some notable losses lately against big teams, you can see that we’ve been missing our big names in a big way. Did I say big enough? Well let’s throw that word around a few more times.
The big news for the weekend is the big return of Aaron Ramsey to the squad. Ok, that’s enough. The re-insertion of Ramsey in the squad is sure to breed confidence. The man who was in the form of his life prior to his injury is now back. Ramsey is usually the hardest working man on the pitch. A box to box central midfielder who is as likely to stop goals from happening as he is to score them. His penetrative runs from the middle of the park can move defenses around and create spaces for others to work in. Let’s not forget that he can also put a few in the back of the old onion bag. Ramsey had his finest goal scoring run at the beginning of the campaign always making runs from deep. He will give the holding midfielders in the Everton squad a headache trying to keep track of his runs. His energy on the defensive end will also be key.
I could see Ramsey getting paired up with Flamini in the middle of the park. Everton boast’s a young attacking midfielder named Ross Barkley. He has been a standout this year with incredible technical ability, great tactical awareness, and an eye for a killer pass. He will be someone Flamini and Ramsey (if he gets the nod) will have to keep an eye on in the defensive half of the pitch. However, Typical to the arsenal style, sometimes the best form of defense is offense, and keeping possession of the ball.
Everton are a team that likes to have their fair share of the ball as well. Roberto Martinez has instilled the team with an attacking formation and mind-set that has seen them grow as a team this year. What we will see is two teams looking to land knockout blows against each other. Just like two heavyweight fighters with huge right hooks, you wonder if they will be looking to swing away from the first whistle, or will there be a period of feeling each other out. Knowing the implications of this game, and knowing that these teams have faced each other twice already this year, I lean on the side of aggression. I think we will see an open game, especially in the second half if things are coming down to the wire. My prediction: 3-1 to the Arsenal and another sliver of hope of crawling up the table in the last few games.