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Focus: How Everton will look to bring Arsenal back down to earth

As exemplified by the superb 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in midweek, this Arsenal team are synchronising perfectly. The cohesion between their midfield five – all playing entirely different roles – is overwhelming most of their opponents. Everton’s best chance of a positive result, therefore, is to focus their attacks down the left flank.

Everton have gradually become more direct in the past 12 months, with the statistics suggesting that Roberto Martinez has taken on board some of the criticism from within his own squad. In 2014/15, Everton averaged 495 passes per game with their main distributing centre-back, Phil Jagielka, making 5.7 long passes per match. This season they are making 436 passes and Jagielka is launching 8 long balls per game.

This peaked in the recent visit of Manchester United, when Jagielka played 17 long passes and John Stones pumped 11 – many of which were aimed at releasing Everton’s wingers quickly on the counter-attack. It didn't work against Louis van Gaal's team, but through a similar approach they can unlock Arsenal. 

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Hector Bellerin is a brilliant full-back, but Arsene Wenger’s reliance on him for creativity can leave Arsenal light on that flank. Jamie Vardy scored against the Gunners last month by receiving a long pass in behind the Spaniard; Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku (who often drift to the left) could flourish in this area.

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The swarming press of Arsenal’s midfield makes counter-attacking very difficult, but those long Jagielka punts are surely their best chance of beating the Premier League’s most in-form side.

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