Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has described the Gunners midweek Premier League clash with Everton a ‘six-point’ game with both teams aiming for top four Champion’s League qualifying spots in May.
The North Londoners travel to Goodison Park on Wednesday evening to face an Everton side that sits above them in 5th place, just one point ahead.
In the wake of their lackluster 0-0 draw at Villa Park on Saturday, their No1 has called for his team to get back to their best, as they still aim for ambitions higher than just fourth place.
"It will be a six-pointer," he claimed.
"It will be a very good game for us to win. We managed to get three points last year and it was a really tough match.”
Everton made a strong start to the season, taking 10 points from their opening six league games. But the Toffees form has slid off track – they’ve drawn four of their last six games and have been overtaken by West Brom who have now moved ahead of Chelsea with their weekend 2-4 victory over Sunderland.
"We are outside the top four so our first target is to reach that top four. But our ambitions are much higher than that,” continued the Polish keeper.
His manager has taken the heat – criticism directed in the aftermath of the Gunners’ performance on Saturday after they had hoped to go on a run since beating North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-2, followed by confirming their qualification for the knockout rounds of the Champion’s League by beating Montpellier at home last week.
"I think the last two matches against Tottenham and Montpellier, offensively we have played really well," Szczesny noted.
"We have had a few disappointing performances before that, so it's important we get back to that level and I think we are in a good position to do so."
The implications of a loss for either side on Wednesday would be damaging and crucially detrimental to their top-four contention. David Moyes’ Everton have their gaze firmly fixed on continental qualification this season, whilst Arsene Wenger is coming under increasing pressure to bag some kind of silverware at the Emirates.
Should Arsenal lose the game, they would remain on 20 points, whilst Everton would remain in 5th place on 24 points. Conversely, if Arsenal win the game, they would move above the Toffees into fifth, just one point off the top-four with Chelsea playing their archrivals Fulham in the West London derby at the same time.
A draw would be unlikely to suit either party a it would further widen the gulf between the current top four and the chasers behind them, especially if Chelsea win their game.
Meanwhile, despite Arsenal’s victory over Spurs, their rivals now sit right behind them in 7th on equal points – Arsenal may have won the North London battle but they may lose the war, if they leave Goodison with nothing.
Can Arsenal afford to get anything but three points at Goodison?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald