x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Everton’s Martinez thinks Arsenal ‘are better than they were last season’

Everton and Arsenal clash at Goodison Park this weekend, and Roberto Martinez expressed admiration for his arriving opponents, saying their style 'has earned a real sense of admiration from people in world football'.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, second right, runs a team training session on Monday. Olly Greenwood / AFP / August 18, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, second right, runs a team training session on Monday. Olly Greenwood / AFP / August 18, 2014

Santi Cazorla wants to return to his scoring consistency of two seasons ago and strengthen Arsenal’s challenge for honours this season.

The Spain midfielder struck seven goals last season and will hope to open his Premier League account this term when Arsene Wenger’s side face Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

His goal return in the 2013/14 campaign was down on the 12 goals he scored during his first season at the club and, while Cazorla missed out in the narrow opening day win over Crystal Palace, he provided a reminder of his threat with Arsenal’s first goal in the Community Shield win over Manchester City.

“Kicking off a new season in that fashion is always nice: winning a title and also helping by scoring a goal,” Cazorla said. “That keeps your morale high. As I always say, my target is helping the team with goals.

“I hope to equal or beat my goalscoring tally from last season. That’s something every player wants to achieve.”

He added: “Hopefully, I’ll help the team with many goals because that would be a signal that I can be useful.

“My first season here was very good. I managed to beat my scoring record – which had been nine with Malaga – with 12 goals.

“Last season I wasn’t so consistent because I struggled with ankle problems after an injury with Spain. For this reason I lacked consistency,” Cazorla explained.

“But in the end we managed to win a title after so many years and hopefully this year I’ll be able to give 100 per cent physically and mentally in order to lift more trophies.”

Mikel Arteta will miss out on the chance to face his former club after injuring his ankle during the goalless draw at Besiktas in this week’s Champions League qualifier.

Wenger, the Arsenal manager, must decide whether to restore Per Mertesacker to central defence or continue with 19-year-old Calum Chambers in the role.

Mertesacker, along with Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski, was given extended leave after helping Germany to win the World Cup.

But Chambers has impressed in an unfamiliar role following his arrival from Southampton.

Everton collected four points from their two Premier League matches against Arsenal last season but finished seven points behind them in the table.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez feels FA Cup-holders Arsenal will be a much better side this season and is predicting an exciting contest at Goodison Park.

“I think this Arsenal side are better than they were last season with the additions they have made,” Martinez said. “But they’re very similar to us with the philosophy that they have.

“The way Arsenal play has earned a real sense of admiration from people in world football. At Goodison, we really enjoy our football and we can’t wait to get our season started at home from that perspective,” the Spaniard added.

“I think both teams are going to fight really hard to control the game and get on the ball. The difference is how good you can be in the final third.”

Everton will have Republic of Ireland duo Seamus Coleman and Darron Gibson available for the match.

Right-back Coleman suffered a hamstring problem in pre-season but came off the bench during last week’s 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Leicester City, while Gibson is now fit again after suffering a serious knee injury in October.

However, Ross Barkley, Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone remain long-term absentees.

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