The Super League is done and dusted but the Premier League continues apace with Arsenal hosting Everton on Friday.
Despite being part of the “big six” clubs, the Gunners are nowhere near such a lofty position and currently sit three points behind Everton having played a game more than their Friday night rivals.
CLICK HERE to join Karamba (18+ only) and compete in Squawka’s betting tournament for Champions League fixtures.
18+ only. Uk only. New depositing sport players only. Tournaments run every Friday at 00:00 CET until Thursday 23:59 CET. Tournament Timeout Limit: 35. Stake contribution per bet: £1. Minimum odds: 3/10. Minimum bets in tournament to be eligible for reward: £10. 1st Place Prize: £1000. Prizes granted up to 48h after tournament ends. Free Bet does not contribute towards leader board. Please Play Responsibly. BeGambleAware. T&Cs apply.
Mikel Arteta’s men will be looking to get back to winning ways after their disappointing draw against Fulham while Everton are seeking a first win since March. We’ve come up with some predictions.
1. Predicted Arsenal XI
Arsenal’s squad is beset by injury and illness. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is touch and go to play after falling sick with Malaria while top scorer Alexandre Lacazette sits out with a hamstring problem just as he had found serious goalscoring form.
Bernd Leno will return from being rested against Fulham, while Granit Xhaka continues to deputise at left-back alongside Gabriel, Holding and human moral compass Hector Bellerin. Thomas Partey should return to the XI alongside Dani Ceballos in midfield. Arteta has admitted there are some “doubts” over Martin Odegaard so don’t expect to see him just yet.
With the extra day of rest ahead of the Europa League semi-final you can expect to see Arteta go as strong as he can in attack so once again Nicolas Pépé will play on the left of young guns Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka. Aubameyang will probably come off the bench to get some minutes ahead of the Villarreal tie, with Eddie Nketiah given the start.
2. Predicted Everton XI
Everton could play a 3-5-2 to shut the Gunners down but it’s more likely that Carlo Ancelotti goes with a 4-2-3-1 having used it to such good effect in the season’s earlier victory over Arsenal. Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne are fixtures of the side with Seamus Coleman returning from being rested to play wide.
In midfield Andre Gomes’ return to fitness should see him thrust into midfield alongside tackle merchant Allan while Gylfi Sigurdsson will hope to build on his impressive form of late (he’s been directly involved in five goals in his last seven games).
Meanwhile Alex Iwobi will drop out of the XI to make way for the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Richarlison will drop back to left-wing and hope that he can re-find his form (the Brazilian hasn’t scored in his previous six games but with goals against Liverpool and Manchester City under his belt, he won’t fear the Gunners). With Calvert-Lewin back to lead the line and Gylfi Sigurdsson behind him, James Rodriguez will be out to show his worth and stun a super-club.
3. The (Young) Gun Show
Arsenal this season have been a curious beast, in that the squad has quite a lot of superstar talent but the three best performing players have been a left-back they signed for £15m and two kids from their youth system.
And with Kieran Tierney out injured, the match against Everton will see the focus fall solely onto Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. These two youngsters have been a shining light in the darkness for the Gunners and you can expect that to continue again on Friday.
Sure they weren’t at their best against Fulham, but as anyone in the Europa League can tell you these two come alive under the lights and so on Friday night you can bet they’ll be back in the saddle.
With Saka coming in off the right, penetrating the space left behind Lucas Digne, he will have the dribbling and shooting skill to get Arsenal into scoring positions (and take those chances himself, he has 5 goals and 2 assists in the league this season). Smith Rowe, conversely, is pure energy. He doesn’t always get the goal or assist himself but his impact on Arsenal’s performance can be felt in the tempo and rhythm with which they play. The Gunners dance to his beat, and Everton will struggle to handle him.
4. Sticky Toffees at the back
With 40 goals conceded so far this season, Everton aren’t really the most solid defensive outfit in terms of consistency but they can turn up on their day to spoil and stifle and that is exactly what Carlo Ancelotti will do to Arsenal.
Carlo Ancelotti will know that Arsenal are vulnerable on the counter-attack, especially with Granit Xhaka at left-back. The Swiss has done well in his makeshift role so far, but Everton will look to test him like he hasn’t been tested before via James Rodriguez and Seamus Coleman.
However that counter will only be possible because Everton will put in an incredible rearguard performance. It may seem like the last thing Everton could do right now, but they have the potential. The Toffees are well-stocked with talented centre-backs and, led by Michael Keane (who can expect to add to his 132 clearances) and the returning Yerry Mina. Moreover as the game wears on you can expect to see the excellent Ben Godfrey come off the bench and Everton switch to a back three to further shut Arsenal out.
5. An incredible draw
Normally a draw between two sides so close in the table and in performance as Arsenal and Everton wouldn’t be a surprise. The tension involved in the match, and the ability for a loss to be so devastating to their form at a crucial point of the season, usually leads to a closely fought match where neither side wants to give anything away.
Everton in particular are desperate for a victory after 26 years without a win away to Arsenal (and 6 games without a win right now this season). They beat them at Goodison and haven’t completed a league double over the Gunners since the mid-80’s. However they’re not going to get the win they want, they will fall just short. You can’t just switch around form as bad as theirs on a dime.
Ordinarily they would be heading for defeat, especially on the road in North London. But the thing is; Arsenal are a bit of a shambles themselves. The Gunners have won their previous 8 games against Everton but their recent form shows a side riddled with holes and problems and the loss of Alexandre Lacazette to injury is a real bodyblow.
The result? All square at the Emirates for the first time since 2013.