Everton looking to maintain fine record against Arsenal


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The Independent Football

Everton assistant manager Steve Round is hoping Arsenal will be the latest big name to come unstuck at Goodison Park in tonight's Barclays Premier League clash.

A run of only one defeat in 11 games, albeit a painful one in the Merseyside derby last week, sees the Toffees go into the match full of confidence, particularly given the scalps they have taken.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham have all gone home with nothing in recent weeks, helping Everton climb into the top 10.

Round said: "It's going to be a tough game, we know that. Arsenal are bang in form, they've got some really exciting players but we're at home, we've got a good run going and we've beaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham, so Arsenal will hold no fear for us.

"I think Arsenal are top of the league on current form, they've won five on the bounce in the Premier League, we've lost one in 11 so it should be a really good game, and one both teams will go out and try hard to win."

It will also be a chance for Everton to end a winless run against the Gunners that stretches back to 2007, with Round saying: "We've been very close recently, we've given them some really tough games so we're hoping we can go one step further."

Their most recent meeting came in December, when Robin van Persie scored the only goal with a tremendous volley to earn Arsenal three points.

Round knows it is the 33-goal Dutchman who will offer the main threat again, and he said: "He's a tremendous player, one of the best in the world at the moment, and his goals record speaks for itself.

"But also his general all-round play, he links up really well, and the goal he scored against us to win the game up there was really top drawer, as good as I've seen from any player. We know he can do that. You've just got to try and shut him out."

Another player Everton will be attempting to keep quiet is midfielder Mikel Arteta, who makes his first return to Goodison Park since moving to Arsenal last summer, bringing to an end a six-and-a-half-year spell with the Toffees.

Round expects the Spaniard to be given a warm welcome by everyone at Everton when he walks out in a red shirt.

"He was a big favourite here and I think the Everton fans are very knowledgeable and respectful towards the senior players who have played for the club," said the assistant manager. "I think they'll give him a good reception.

"We do welcome him back and obviously we'll be fighting hard to make sure he doesn't have an influence on the game."