In the cluster of sides competing for European qualification, Arsenal welcome Everton to the Emirates on Sunday (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports).
With under a third of the season left to play, there are a multitude of different possibilities at play for all of the teams currently positioned between fourth and 11th in the table. Just seven points span that entire eight team group, while fourth and ninth are separated by just five.
There could even be more at stake than was first assumed for many of those teams. If Manchester City’s two-year ban from European competition is upheld, fifth in the table could yet yield a Champions League place. For Arsenal and Everton that opens up an additional opportunity to achieve something at the end of a season that hasn’t always gone to plan.
Both teams parted company with coaches before Christmas. Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal at the end of November following a seven-match winless streak in all competitions. A week later, Everton’s Marco Silva followed him following a thrashing from local rivals Liverpool that left his side in the relegation zone.
Arsenal eventually turned to Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s former assistant at Manchester City, as their permanent replacement for Emery. His appointment has stimulated a mild uptick in results. Arsenal have claimed 1.38 points per match under him compared to 1.28 previously.
Defence has clearly been a focus. The ratio between goals for and against has improved markedly. Arsenal conceded 1.5 goals per match before Arteta came in compared to just 0.88 per match thereafter. They are now conceding almost four shots less per match, albeit of higher average quality. Combined with a slight improvement in attacking output, it all bodes relatively well for the future, even if Arsenal’s inability to turn more of their draws into victories has limited its more immediate impact on results.
The Gunners had been on a four-match drawing streak before last weekend’s 4-0 win at home to Newcastle. After a goalless first half, quick fire goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe early into the second period set them on course for a victory that was embellished by late strikes from Mesut Ozil and substitute Alexandre Lacazette.
Another win on Sunday would represent their first back-to-back triumphs since the opening two weekends of the season. It is not a result they can necessarily rely upon achieving given the sort of form Everton have been in since Carlo Ancelotti became their new permanent head coach in late December, just a day after Arteta took over at Arsenal.
In that time, only league leaders Liverpool have taken more points than Everton’s haul of 17 points from eight matches. Their underlying numbers always looked more promising than top-line results under Silva and Ancelotti seems to have benefited from some reversion to the mean in that respect. His side travel south on the back of a five-match unbeaten streak and consecutive victories over Watford and Crystal Palace.
The second of those wins came a couple of weeks back at Goodison Park. Bernard gave the Toffees an early lead, and although their visitors hit back early into the second half, Everton regained the lead through Richarlison shortly after. They then wrapped up all three points when Dominic Calvert-Lewin added a third two minutes from time.
Ancelotti’s side are actually two points ahead of Sunday’s hosts in the Premier League table. They are just five off fourth place and four off fifth, which is potentially the new benchmark. With that said, their run in looks very difficult, with home matches against Liverpool and Leicester City and away trips to five other members of the current top 10, starting this weekend.
Of those, the trip to the Emirates is arguably the one from which they would most fancy themselves to pick up all three points. It is necessary to go all the way back to 1996, when Arsenal were still playing at Highbury, to find the last time Everton have won away to the Gunners. They have taken a draw and win from their last two home matches against them and seem a little underrated by the leading bookies in terms of emerging victorious on Sunday.
Our Preview’s Arsenal vs Everton Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Everton to win @ best odds of 11/4 as in the odds comparison table below.
Compare AFC vs EFC Match Betting Odds from Best UK Bookies