Everton vs. Arsenal – Premier League Preview
We travel up to Goodison Park, and face off with the Toffeemen on Sunday.
Everton’s form has improved over the past few weeks, with some wins against Chelsea and a strong victory over West Ham to boot.
Everton is a traditionally great club in English football – and it’s only been a lack of finances that has impeded their capacity to compete. Now they have the finances, they want to be in our position as part of the top six and a global player. So for them, this is a key test to show that they have the mettle to match us. This will by no means be an easy game – they do have players who can hurt us on their day.
Everton is resurgent in their quest for a Europa League place, with a strong upturn in form lately. They face competition from Wolves, Leicester and Watford, so they will be looking for all the points possible in this context.
They also possess Richarilson, who is a regular feature in the Brazilian national side, and despite some fan angst towards manager Marco Silva, they will look to rectify this in a strong season’s end.
Their home form is reasonable, and they will be looking to get amongst us and expose our defensive weaknesses. Their forward line is pretty quick, and as their best asset will surely be prominent. In the home game, they were unlucky not to get something from the game, as old boy Theo could have scored early on.
They may not be able to rough us up as they have in the past, since we’re a bit more hardened than previously. But they certainly will look to be progressive, and be as our head coach states “the protagonist” in this case.
As for us, our form has also been good lately. We briefly went ahead of our friends from near Edmonton (new stadium and all…) though, despite United losing to Wolves and Chelsea beating Brighton, it’s imperative that we win this game.
As for why our form has improved, I don’t think there is a reason. Maybe injuries cost us, or maybe our luck from our good run ran out. The Everton home game victory saw them dominate early on, and it was our attacking guile that won the game late on. I think also Emery made some poor decisions tactically in certain games, though this has been balanced out by various strong decisions in others. The Rennes loss was done to this – but then the Spurs draw showed his strong acumen.
This game, like the Newcastle win, is another six-pointer since Everton won’t lie down and would love another top six scalp.
Our away form isn’t the best, and is “mid-table” when analysed by itself. But then all trends come to an end sooner or later – and it’s about time we got a good away win to match our stellar home form.
It seems there aren’t many major injury worries here. Xhaka, Koscielny, and Ramsey have knocks and could yet feature, but the only other injuries are long-termers (Bellerin, Holding and Welbeck). So I’d see us playing in a way to counter Everton, and then utilise our own strengths:
Mustafi is much-maligned, and rightly so in some quarters. But if Koscielny doesn’t make it, then he may need to come and play well.
The back-four here would limit their attacking options, since they may play with width to try and stretch us. Of course, Mr. Emery may think differently, but for me, I would employ Jenkinson here.
The midfield would be a mix of Elneny, Guendouzi, and Maitland-Niles, since they both battle and create when required. All are players with high energy, and who can match their midfield in intensity.
Ozil features too, with Iwobi and Auba starting.
Iwobi did well here a few years ago, though I’d favour him since he can run at their defence, and with him and Ozil combining, this may be too much for their defence to handle.
Of course, Lacazette would be on the bench, but I feel Auba’s pace would help against their defence better than Laca. Laca is in my view the more technically able of the two – but even though Auba is amongst the goals this season, we’re still not playing fully to his strengths. Ozil and Iwobi can provide through balls for him to utilise his pace, which is arguably his prime asset.
Everton 1-2 Arsenal
I feel we may concede, though a clean sheet would be optimum since goal difference may be a factor in the top four shake-ups.
Despite Everton looking to take the game to us, I feel we would have too much-attacking edge for them.
However, we must be mindful of defensive lapses, and this includes those who have been performing (Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal) and those who haven’t (Mustafi). They have the players to punish us, and the Goodison atmosphere would be raucously egging them on. Though our forwards are better, and use this advantage accordingly. Auba hasn’t been in the goals lately that much, and Salah, Mane, Kun Aguero, and even Mr. MBE are amongst the Golden Boot hunt. It doesn’t matter who scores ultimately, but it’s nice to see Auba amongst the goals and doing what he does best.
A strong performance from Mesut Ozil, amidst his “rehabilitation” at the moment, would silence critics and show he can perform in tough away games. To cite that he doesn’t do it in big games is nonsense (were people asleep when he played well in the 2017 FA Cup Final?). But he would reinforce his return with a good game here.