Wenger eyes top spot, at least briefly

Olivier Giroud (centre) with Alexis Sanchez (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after scoring the first goal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Giroud and Theo Walcott are both in stellar form for Arsene Wenger's team.
Olivier Giroud (centre) with Alexis Sanchez (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after scoring the first goal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Giroud and Theo Walcott are both in stellar form for Arsene Wenger's team.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsenal can go to the top of the Premier League table, for 24 hours at least, if they beat Everton today with manager Arsene Wenger in the enviable position of deciding which of his in-form players will lead his attack.

Theo Walcott,who has scored four times this season, is expected to lead the frontline for a sixth straight game. But Frenchman Olivier Giroud showed his worth by scoring his fourth goal as a substitute this season in the 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"It's always hard, honestly, because they are two top players," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said yesterday. "I consider the form and the game of the day but at the end of the season, both will have played their share of games.

"At the moment, it is Theo (starting) and in a few weeks, it might be Giroud, but what is most important is that they both contribute."

Arsenal are on a good run, having won five of their last six games in all competitions, and will move up from second if they win because current leaders Manchester City and third-placed Manchester United do not meet until tomorrow.

"If you want to play at the top of the Premier League, you have to do well at home in big games," Wenger said.

"Our target on Saturday is to take advantage of it, because we play before everybody else."

Everton have not beaten Arsenal away since January 1996. It is a statistic Everton manager Roberto Martinez is keen to change even though he believes that his side have caught the in-form Gunners at the wrong time.

"You look at what Arsenal have achieved in the last few weeks and we know we are going to find a team probably in their best moment of confidence and belief," said the Spaniard.

"I wouldn't say a team as experienced in those European nights as Arsenal will suffer a hangover - if anything, they will have incredible momentum from that win and they have a big-enough squad."

Tom Cleverley is in contention to return to the Everton midfield, having been out of action since suffering ankle ligament damage in late August.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ARSENAL V EVERTON

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 12.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Wenger eyes top spot, at least briefly'. Print Edition | Subscribe