Moyes warns against dismissing Gunners' title bid

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The Independent Football

Arsenal may be off the pace in the Premier League this season but Everton manager David Moyes has warned they are still capable of punishing his side at Goodison Park tonight.

Arsenal's visit to Merseyside pits the fifth-placed Gunners against the side just one place below them in the league table.

Arsène Wenger's side are renowned for playing attractive football but since the "Invincibles" season of 2003-04, when they went an entire Premier League campaign undefeated, their only silverware has come in the FA Cup in 2005.

That has prompted claims of a decline at the Emirates Stadium but Moyes refuses to subscribe to that notion and believes Arsenal are dangerous enough to derail Everton's bid for a top-six finish.

He said: "I think people think that [they are in decline] because you normally see Arsenal in the top one or two and right on the tails of the top teams. I think people are thinking that they are not as close as they were in the past.

"But I think Arsène Wenger is still thinking about winning the Premier League and he thinks they still have a chance, so it is still a very strong Arsenal team."

He added: "They have talented individuals and we don't need to remind our players of that and how good Arsenal can be. On their day, and given time and space, they can be very fluent and open you up."

Everton sit five points behind Arsenal but Moyes has urged his side to keep "attacking" the clubs above them in the hope of a place in the top four and Champions League football next season.

And the former Preston manager does not want his players worrying about anyone's performances but their own. He said: "We have not thought about anything else but us.

"I have said before that we would like to be in the top six if we can, but we are certainly not going to give up attacking the ones above us. It will be hard with the form of the teams above us, but we will keep going.

"There is always a chance to pip somebody so we will try and catch Arsenal and Aston Villa and whoever else there may be, but we will have to go on a very good run to do that."

Moyes, though, is unlikely to be signing any new players to improve the chances of that happening, adding: "There is nothing to report at this moment in time. We have made a couple of tentative enquiries about people on loan and we will try to get them.

"I would love to be really positive about it and say there's a good chance but I think they are slightly against rather than for at this moment in time."

Midfielder Mikel Arteta is "50-50" for the game according to Moyes. The Spanish playmaker is still struggling with the rib injury which counted him out of Sunday's FA Cup 1-1 draw with Liverpool, and he could miss his first league game of the season.

However, it is not all bad news for Everton as Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini is eligible to play after serving the two-match ban he received for picking up 10 bookings this term.


Everton have won three of their last 29 league matches against the 'Big Four' since the start of the 2005/06 season.