“It’s a question of nerves,” Arsene Wenger declared in his pre-match address. Albeit Arsenal are in pole position to qualify for next season’s Champions League do they possess mental backbone to see it through? On the evidence of Saturday’s victory over Norwich that question has already been answered. Seeing off the Canaries in the dying stages was indicative of the Gunners’ late season surge. Seven wins from their last eight puts them amongst the form teams in the division and, more importantly, heaps the pressure on London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham, who’re now playing catch-up after Wenger’s side leapfrogged them both into third. Now it’s just a case of holding on for dear life.
Everton, although rank outsiders, are still very much in the frame for Champions League qualification and lie three points and two spots shy of the top-four. Only the two Manchester sides have been beaten less than the Toffees although 13 draws has hindered them somewhat. That being said they’ve displayed an uncharacteristic consistency from the first kick this season that has kept them amongst the European contenders. Four victories in their last five league games has put them within touching distance and David Moyes will be urging his troops to do all they can to grab a seat at the continents top table. A further incentive is finishing above Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the second year running and a mid-week success in North London would push them eight points above the Reds.
Thomas Rosicky (hamstring) should return for Arsenal, while Nacho Monreal looks set to play after being rested at Norwich. There are concerns over goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi after he sustained a rib injury on Saturday.
Everton have a number of minor knocks to assess before they arrive at the Emirates Stadium but there no serious injuries for David Moyes to contend with.
What the managers said…
“We have good spirit, good mental strength and desire and we are up for a fight and that’s what we want to show again on Tuesday against Everton. It has strengthened our belief that we can do it (finish in the top four), but we will go with the right focus against Everton and we know what is at stake. We will really go for it.” Arsene Wenger insists Saturday’s victory over Norwich was down to Arsenal’s character, not luck. (Liverpool Echo)
“It’s an opportunity which we will try and take. The players know that this is a chance, and because of that, there is not a great deal, which needs to be said to them. It’s a small chance, maybe a 15% chance, something like that. It’s not a big chance, but there are not many teams who can say they have even got a chance. We are happy to be in that position.” David Moyes quantifies Everton’s Champions League chances (Liverpool Echo)
Pre-match Statistic: The 18 goals Arsenal have scored in the last 15 minutes of games this season is a Premier League high.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Everton