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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Barkley On The Bench

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Ross Barkley has been declared fit enough to make the bench for this afternoon's game against Arsenal.

The midfielder was withdrawn at half-time of the Blues' last outing - the 3-1 win at Fulham - with a calf complaint.

But Roberto Martinez had been able to name the 20-year-old among his substitutes in making two changes to the team that started at Craven Cottage.

Steven Naismith and Leon Osman are the men to come into the line-up in place of Barkley and winger Gerard Deulofeu.

Tim Howard's backline therefore remains the same for a seventh successive fixture, skipper Phil Jagielka remaining sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, John Stones and Seamus Coleman will be tasked with thwarting the Gunners offence, while Osman takes the armband in midfield in front of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.  

Naismith and Kevin Mirallas will be given licence to support Romelu Lukaku in attack as the Blues go in search of a ninth straight home win.

Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Osman (c), Naismith, Mirallas, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Deulofeu, Barkley, Garbutt, Alcaraz.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Monreal, Vermaelen (c), Mertesacker, Sagna, Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, Podolski, Cazorla, Giroud. Subs: Viviano, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Kallstrom, Bellerin.

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