Besiktas was our first 'tricky' match of the new season. Today's late afternoon kick off at Goodison is what you'd call a real test. Our 3-0 defeat last season will be relatively fresh in the minds of most even if the form of both teams went in opposite directions after that result thankfully.
I can't help but believe that this fixture will be important for the psychology of the team. A bad defeat and all the self doubt from last season against teams around us could be difficult to shake off but then a convincing away victory against a strong Everton team could be the perfect tonic to spur this talented team on.
That's the thing about this fixture, both teams could quite easily win this 3-0 so it makes it rather difficult to predict.
Arsenal Team News
As we know Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta are unavailable through injury but our German double ride in on horse back to save the day. The duo being Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil. If rumours are to be believed then Lukas Podolski should have been the third member but he hasn't traveled due to the club allowing him to sort out his future elsewhere. We'll see if there is any truth to that closer to kick off.
I reckon Arsène has had to do plenty of thinking when it comes to today's line up. We've already had a few fixtures in a short space of time if you include the community shield but I don't think that is so much of an issue at this early stage of the season, especially as Arsène would really want his players to sharpen up and get the team understanding at our regular level which it hasn't been since last season.
Arsène hinted that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will start the game judging by his press conference, I've been kinda hoping for Chambo to start since the beginning of the season so I hope he does impress if he gets his chance.
I don't see Chamberlain playing in a central position so the only candidates to drop out would be a straight swap for Cazorla on the flank or a swap for Giroud moving Alexis into a central position. Given how little we've seen Alexis there since he signed you have to think that is unlikely to happen so I'm going for Santi to miss out.
But that is not it when it comes to our attack. Yaya Sanogo who should be fit or doesn't need his passport, depending on what you believe. So given Oliver Giroud's under performance in midweek you'd think he has every chance to start the game especially with his additional pace and forward movement off the ball. At the same time Oliver Giroud cannot regain his match sharpness by not playing games so it's a difficult one.
In midfield Arsène needs to find someone to replace Mikel Arteta at the base of our midfield. Mathieu Flamini and Calum Chambers are the most likely choices. If Per Mertesacker is not ready or if Koscielny is rested due to a persistent achilles problem then that choice gets removed. Mesut Özil could return to the team if ready and that could see the side switch back to a 4-2-3-1. Would Wilshere be the one to miss out? or would Arsène risk asking Ramsey and Wilshere to share that responsibility?
This is not even considering the likes of Tomas Rosicky who has hardly had a sniff this season.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
I don't know do I? But I'll give it a go anyway.
It is likely to be an incredibly tough test for us this afternoon. I hope we don't go all out and leave ourselves exposed, especially as we have had traveling and a tough game on a difficult pitch so the Toffees have an advantage in that regard. I'd like us to focus on being tough to break down and use the pace we have to hit them when we have the ball. I'd happily take a draw today and a good performance.
Check back later for confirmed line ups and post match Q&A from a few Arsenal supporters.
Fingers crossed today.