Gooners, it's hard not to be happy right now isn't it? It's been a tough season for us as Arsenal fans. But with the recent run of results we have at least some proof that we don't have a bad group of players – we beat Bayern Munich after all – even if we've failed spectacularly to challenge for honours.
Sweeter though is that the seven point gap Spurs led us by just last month can be reversed if our next two results bring us the full six. With Tottenham not playing until Sunday, this week would be the perfect time to crank up the pressure. And when the other team from north London does take to the field it'll be to face the now FA Cup finalists, Manchester City. Not an easy prospect that, even if AVB's team has looked impressive spearheaded by a certain worldie-wielding Welshman.
But let's not talk about Spurs here. After a grateful turnaround against Norwich, kickstarted thanks to a should-be-but-hardly-ever-given penalty call, we actually saw the strength of character Arsene Wenger loves to talk about. We obviously lacked a certain Super Tom and his direct, driving style even with the return of Jack, and the midfield trio looked unbalanced and somewhat clueless. Gervinho meanwhile had one of his off days, and that might have added to the issues when it comes to team selection.
The problem is, how do you set up against a strong Everton side? It's hard to know if the same three (Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere) will start again. If the zip and direct play of Walcott and Podolski shown late on against the Canaries is favoured, Gervinho might make way for Walcott, while Cazorla drops in to the middle for Ramsey. Equally, Wenger could reunite Gibbs or Monreal with Podolski while Ramsey plays wide right right to provide cover against the forward reaching Baines. Options, upon options in midfield, and that's without even mentioning the physical presences of Gibson and Fellaini, both of whom who are sure to make life as tricky as possible all evening.
Equally important is how we'll deal with the potential combination of pace and technical abilities possessed by Kevin Mirallas, and the sheer power of Victor Anichebe. Both have been growing in confidence of late, and with a battling midfield behind them and fairly reliable wide service, there's lots of potential for danger which needs guarding against.
And this is the thing. This Everton side is good. They're a threat, and they've been consistent right throughout this season. Rightfully they sit sixth in the league and are well within striking distance. They'll come to fight, with a plan to try and take the points, and you have to think we need to give them a real game to come out on top.
Not the game we gave Norwich, no way. No disrespect to the stout defending Chris Hughton's side provided for much of Saturday, but Everton this season are at a slightly different level. Give them any sort of lead and fail to turn up for much of the match and we're in big trouble.
The one way to avoid that is to battle from the off. We now know we have the mental strength to face adversity and still triumph. We know we have the ability to play effective football that's easy on the eye. What we don't know is if we can mix both of those with fight and desire on demand for a full 90 plus minutes of football. But we'll need it. Everton will test us, they will challenge us and they will try to threaten us.
If we want to keep on rolling, if we want another three points towards fourth, we need the strength to push past them.