It's first vs fifth in the weekends biggest tie. Arsenal will be looking to restore daylight between themselves and the chasing pack, while Everton want to drag themselves into an improbable title contender.
Lasting the distance maybe beyond Everton for this season, but the fact they are a part of the chasing pack shows the progress they have been making this season. Under Moyes this fixture would have been labelled 'beauty and the beast'. Under Martinez Everton have undergone a transformation, they are like the ugly frog who needed intervention to change into a charming prince - yet still retaining all the qualities that made them so hated.
Enough with the poor Disney analogies, lets get into some stats:
At the other end to two teams are just as frugal as each other. Screenshot three shows they are almost inseparable on most accounts except for clearances - perhaps an ode to Arsenal's talent on the ball and Martinez yet to fully stamp his authority.
With this taken into account we can expect the tie to be a tight match with very little separating the teams. In matches like this, the number of game changers a team wields, the more likely they are to win the tie. Most will immediately look to Arsenal, but in regards to the actual stipulations of the match, Everton have more match winners available to them.
Giroud, Ozil and Ramsey have been the most consistent match winners of Arsenal this season, in addition to that Cazorla on his day is a top notch player. The problem Arsenal will find against Everton is that they are all relatively slow players, who love to combine with slick passing. Everton's center of midfield is incredible congested; Gareth Barry sits holding the middle and James McCarthy is a hard working player - both are not afraid to put their foot in.
Had Chainberlain and Podolski been available, I would have expected Arsenal to put a couple past Everton. As it stands they are not and even Theo Walcott who would have done the job is unlikely to play despite overcoming injury.
Everton do have more match winners who are able to create something out of nothing: Lukaku, Mirallas, Barkley and Deulofeu are who Everton will look to; yet as their relatively low goals scored in comparison to how much possession they stake suggests, they have yet to find a consistency on which to hurt teams. The game against Liverpool is the perfect example: they had cut open Liverpool several times and despite scoring three, on another day they could have had six.
Arsenal 1-1 Everton