Two sides riding high meet on Sunday with Premier League leaders Arsenal face an Everton side fresh from their victory over champions Manchester United in midweek. Arsenal have now won three league games in succession since going down to defeat against United and, with a four point lead in the standings are beginning to change skeptics’ minds about their title credentials.
But manager Arsene Wenger says that there is little danger of his players becoming complacent following their fine start to the season.
“I don't think there is a danger because we are hungry, we want to win, and we have just put a few results together that will make us more ambitious, but as well conscious that in every single game you need to put a top-level performance in,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
“It is a continuity as well because since the beginning of 2013 we have been quite consistent in our results, but now we have a big week in front of us starting with Everton and we have to show we have the hunger and the quality to do it.”
With Saturday’s results giving them the chance to open up a seven-point lead on closest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea, Arsenal are unlikely to get away with taking their foot off the gas. Against an in-form Everton side, they would likely be punished fully should they do so. The manner in which Roberto Martinez came out on top against his predecessor David Moyes to get Everton’s first win at Old Trafford in 22 years suggested that he is well on track to in taking the club forward.
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In contrast to Moyes, Martinez took his side to the home of one of the Premier League’s big guns and showed plenty of attacking intent and the former Wigan manager is delighted by the manner in which his squad has adopted his philosophy.
“We had to break that mentality and I thought we were outstanding in the manner in which we played the game,” he said, according to Everton’s official website. "This squad has shown that it has got the arrogance and the belief to work hard and make our fans proud and that's very important for us."
Everton now lie in fifth place in the Premier League standings and, with the chance to move up to fourth with a win, will again be looking to prove their credentials to qualify for the Champions League at the home of the league leaders.
Bryan Oviedo, who scored for the second match running in midweek, will again deputize at left-back in place of Leighton Baines. However, Martinez believes that the England international is recovering quicker than expected from injury and could be back in time for the busy festive schedule. Summer signing Antolin Alcaraz has returned to full fitness, but it remains to be seen when he will be included in the squad for the first time.
Wenger will also be missing a first-choice full-back with Bacary Sagna again ruled out with a hamstring injury. Lukas Podolski is now back in full training, but is not yet fit enough for a first-team return.
Where to watch: The Premier League clash will kick off from the Emirates Stadium at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.