Arsenal vs Everton: Five Key Battles

Wilshere 2

Tonight sees two of the contenders for a Champions League place go head to head at the Emirates, and if Everton beat Arsenal just one point will separate third from sixth in the Premier League.

Here is a run-down of the key battles...

Olivier Giroud vs Phil Jagielka

Giroud has threatened to burst into for most of the season without ever finding the net consistently, but he has been an important player for Arsenal during their recent run of league victories. The Frenchman will face a strong defensive unit on Tuesday night, and will have his work cut out against Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin. If the English defender can nullify Giroud as an outlet for Arsenal, the home team will find it far harder to threaten Tim Howard's goal.

Laurent Koscielny vs Victor Anichebe

Arsenal's defensive record has been an up and down affair this season, but they are looking more compact of late and Koscielny has been impressive either alongside Per Mertesacker or Thomas Vermaelen. Anichebe turned in a superb display when Everton drew 2-2 at Tottenham Hotspur, and his team will need another powerhouse performance from the Nigerian striker to come away with a good result on Tuesday night.

Theo Walcott vs Leighton Baines

Walcott returned from injury to help spark Arsenal's comeback against Norwich on Saturday, and will likely feature from the start against Everton. He will have a fair bit of defensive work to do against Baines, who has been outstanding for the Toffees this season. If Walcott lets him join Steven Pienaar to overload Arsenal's right back, Everton could create plenty of chances for Anichebe and Fellaini to feast on in the centre.

Lukas Podolski vs Seamus Coleman

It is a similar story on the other flank, where Podolski will have to keep tabs on Seamus Coleman who has been very impressive going forward in recent weeks. The German striker has been conspicuously underused over the past few weeks, but has scored some important goals for the Gunners in his debut season, and look the most potent option on the left flank of their attack.

Jack Wilshere vs Darron Gibson

Wilshere is another man who returned from injury against Norwich, but Arsene Wenger does not quite seem to have found the perfect set up for his team when Wilshere plays, as for all of the midfielder's quality, Arsenal looked at their best once he went off on Saturday. Nevertheless, he will surely start against Everton, and Gibson will need to put Wilshere under plenty of pressure to stop the England international running the match from the middle.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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