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The General
11-05-2005, 10:18 AM
James McFadden is hoping for the chance to finally wipe away the memory of a clash with Arsenal that all but wrecked his Everton career.

It was the first day of the season when Everton were mauled 4-1 by a stunning Arsenal display at Goodison Park that had the Toffees labelled as relegation fodder and McFadden dumped from the side for six months.

He was linked with moves back to Scotland, but has battled back to re-establish himself in boss David Moyes' squad.

The Scottish international would relish a place in the starting line-up at Highbury when fourth-placed Everton take on the deposed champions.

McFadden says: "We caught them on a very bad day for us back in August. It set me back and took me a while to get over that game, and six months to get back in the side.

"I have not been involved as much as I would have liked but the boys that have been playing have been magnificent. Now I am looking forward to getting my first taste of European football.

"I signed a four-year contract when I joined from Motherwell and there are still two years left on that, and it is frustrating if I am not involved.

"I just want to get in the team, but obviously I have got a lot to learn. There are players who are 30 and they are still learning."

The Toffees have doubts over Tim Cahill (back) and Tony Hibbert (knee) and David Moyes may well shuffle his pack after the weekend, when fourth place and Champions League football was assured.

The Everton boss said: "We still recall the heavy defeat we suffered at Arsenal's hands on the opening day.

"People thought after we had lost 4-1, 'here we go again, another rocky season.'

"But I think back and still believe we did not play that bad, Arsenal were just unbelievable.

"They had just beaten Manchester United in the Community Shield and looked very good then a week before, they were awesome. They then arrived at our place full of confidence and battered us.

"But I never felt we were that bad, when you lose by four at home it looks a bad day but it was more to do with Arsenal's brilliance that day than us."

He adds: "Now we have two hard games to finish the season with, at Arsenal and then Bolton, and we want to go out on a high, but the hard work has been done and to finish fourth is a tremendous achievement.

"We are in a good position and if we could finish with a few more points it would be great, but if not then we won't be complaining about the efforts from the lads this season."

Both teams are assured of their league positions but will be wanting to end the season on a high come Wednesday night's penultimate fixture.