Arsenal and Everton will both harbour ambitions of progressing to the last four of the FA Cup when they meet in an evenly matched Sixth Round tie at the Emirates on Saturday (12:45 GMT, live on ITV1).
Arsenal have not been in the best of form in recent times, having won just three of their last eight matches in all competitions, but are still in the Premier League title race in third, with 59 points from 18 wins, five draws and five defeats.
In the midst of their relative new year slump, Arsenal’s most accomplished performance came in their 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. The 10-time winners had previously seen off local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and League One side Coventry City and with other top sides already eliminated are the bookies’ second favourites to lift the trophy: see the FA Cup outright odds here.
The Gunners have a difficult schedule coming up, with matches against Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton, in the league, following Saturday’s tie. They are both taking less and conceding more shots in dangerous areas than before the New Year and are in danger of seeing their season derail at a critical point.
Injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott have robbed Arsene Wenger of two of his most potent attacking contributors and have clearly affected the form of Mezut Ozil, who has no goals and just one assist in his last 12 appearances. Olivier Giroud continues to be a patchy scorer and the decision not to sign attacking reinforcements in January now looks foolish.
Wenger (pictured) will definitely be without Abou Diaby (knee), Kim Kallstrom (back), Ramsey (thigh) and Walcott (knee) for Saturday’s tie, while Nacho Monreal (foot) looks unlikely to be part of the squad.
Everton come into Saturday’s match on the back of run a form that while far from poor has nevertheless dampened expectations of a top four finish. They are sixth in the Premier League table with 48 points from 13 wins, nine draws and five defeats.
The Toffees have impressed in reaching the last eight of the FA Cup, recording 4-0 victories against Queen’s Park Rangers and Stevenage and a 3-1 home victory over Swansea City in the Fifth Round. Roberto Martinez won the trophy with Wigan last season and will be hopeful of becoming the first manager to win back-to-back FA Cups with different clubs.
Martinez has crafted a neat, well organised side since taking over from David Moyes last summer. His team have parlayed the sixth-best Total Shots Ratio (shots for as a percentage of total shots) in the league into the joint second-best (with Arsenal) goals conceded per match average (1.00) and the sixth-best scoring rate (1.41 per match).
With a strong defensive unit and a focus on control of possession, matches involving Everton are usually tight affairs, with few goals separating them from their opponents. Only West Brom have recorded more draws than Everton’s nine so far this season, while nine of their 13 victories have been by a single goal margin.
Martinez will definitely be without the injured Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Darron Gibson (knee) and Lacina Traore (hamstring) for this match, while the participation of Phil Jagielka (hamstring), who was left out of the England squad for the midweek friendly win over Denmark, is highly doubtful.
Arsenal v Everton Betting Tips Verdict
These sides drew 1-1 when they met in the league at the Emirates earlier this season, with Gerard Deulofeu scoring a late equaliser for Everton after Ozil had put Arsenal in front. Recent matches between them have generally been tightly contested affairs, with four draws and four one-goal Arsenal victories in their last eight encounters.
Arsenal have not been in the best of form recently and have concerns over the fitness and form of some of their key players. Their season is on a precipice and with difficult fixtures to come, Wenger would certainly have preferred an easier FA Cup draw.
Everton usually look to stay compact and feel their way into matches on their travels. They have been level at half time in 10 of their 14 league away matches, conceding just six times, three of which came in their heavy derby defeat to Liverpool. They will make life difficult for Arsenal and hope to provide an attacking threat of their own as the match progresses.
The bookies have Arsenal as favourites, but Everton are certainly capable of forcing a replay or, indeed, progressing at the expense of the North Londoners
- Back Everton +0.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 1090/1000 (just better than evens) with Ladbrokes. The bet pays out if Everton win or draw
- Both of these sides score the majority of their goals after half time, which combined with Everton’s propensity to keep things tight in the first half away from home leads us to suggest backing the second half to be highest scoring half @ best odds of 23/20 with BetVictor.