Everton welcome Arsenal to Goodison Park hoping to continue an impressive season and maintain, if not increase, the one point lead over the Gunners. David Moyes' side have been as steady as ever this season and with six draws in the first 13 games of the year are proving to be a very difficult side to beat.
Arsene Wenger's men, meanwhile, saw a mini-revival halted by the goalless draw at Aston Villa this weekend. The match at Villa Park was only the fourth time this season that the Gunners have failed to score a goal.
The Toffees are fifth, as the midweek fixtures start, with 21 points from 13 games. They lead Arsenal in sixth by a single point and, importantly, occupy the final European competition position for next year. But they will have the weight of history against them. The Gunners are unbeaten in the last 10 league games against Everton and have conceded the least number of goals, in away matches, this season.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 7.45 pm GMT and live radio commentary is on BBC Radio Merseyside.
Everton are unbeaten at home this season and Moyes must be quietly confident of his chances after seeing Arsenal's draw at Villa Park. The fact the Toffees were also held to a draw (1-1 at home to Norwich City) could be an issue but will not deter the Scot from considering a shock win.
The unexpected opening day win against Manchester United and the subsequent rush of three wins in six games aside, the Toffees have been forced to settle for draws in recent games, with five of the last seven ending level. And that will worry Moyes a little bit, particularly if traditionally more powerful clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool, both of whom are below Everton in the standings, start stringing wins together.
Nevertheless, the Goodison park club are, as they have always been, a tough opposition. They are combative, hard-working and in Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini, have a top-class player to build attacking plays around.
Meanwhile, Wenger came under immense pressure from his own fans after the draw in the Midlands. And the Frenchman was not happy about the criticism, attacking and disowning that section of supporters. However, that will not change the fact Arsenal were well below par in their last game and need a win in this one, any sort of win really, if they are to keep in touch with the likes of Everton, West Brom and Chelsea above them.
The Gunners are unbeaten since the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford but, like Everton, have found wins a little difficult to come by. The 5-2 hammering of Tottenham and the 2-0 midweek Champions League victory against Montpellier aside, Wenger has not picked up three points since October's narrow win against QPR; three of the seven matches since have been draws.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D L W D D
- Last Match: Everton 1 - 1 Norwich City
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D W W D D
- Last Match: Aston Villa 0 - 0 Arsenal
The home side will be massively boosted by the return of Fellaini. The 25 year old was suspended for the Norwich game after picking up five yellow cards in earlier games. In addition, Tony Hibbert is also expected to return to a starting position, after a bench role in the last game.
In more good news, both Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas are recovering well from their hamstring injuries. They will almost certainly not start this game but may be declared fit to play from the bench, if needed.
Midfielder Darron Gibson faces a late fitness test, while former Manchester United wing back Phil Neville remains sidelined with a knee injury. Also likely to be unavailable is Seamus Coleman, who may have to be content with a bench role, like Anichebe and Mirallas.
Probable Line-Up: Howard; Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Pienaar, Osman, Hitzlsperger, Fellaini; Jelavic, Naismith
Wenger will be similarly boosted by the return of England international Theo Walcott. The 23 year old hurt his shoulder in the north London derby against Spurs but could be available to play and even start at Goodison Park.
The long-term injury list, fortunately for Arsenal fans, is slowly reducing. The latest to return to active duty is veteran Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky. However, the 32 year old is still training to be match fit and is not likely to play a part in this game. France midfielder Abou Diaby, Brazil left back Andre Santos and Polish goal keeper Lukasz Fabianski are all definitely unavailable.
England international Jack Wilshere rested for the game against Villa is likely to return for this one, as is Frenchman Bacary Sagna. This means youngsters Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey are likely to return to the bench for this match.
Meanwhile, all three central defenders - Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen - are fit and ready for the game, meaning one of the three will have to sit on the bench. Vermaelen is likely to start this game, despite talk he is low on confidence, and expect German international Mertesacker to partner him. Englishman Kieran Gibbs will take the left back role.
The match will see a former Everton player return to the Goodison Park - Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard, one of the best midfield orchestrators in the league, will be joined by compatriot Santi Cazorla and Wilshere to form Wenger's first-choice midfield trio.
Up front, Walcott, if fit and ready to play, will resume his partnership with summer signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. If not, expect another Englishman, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to start in his place.
Probable Line-Up: Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere; Walcott, Giroud, Podolski