Two of last season’s top five meet when Everton host Arsenal at Goodison Park on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Everton finished fifth last season, seven points shy of Arsenal in fourth. Following a winless pre-season, Roberto Martinez’s side began the new Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw away to newly promoted Leicester City last weekend.
The Toffees led twice through excellent strikes from Aiden McGeady and Steven Naismith, only to be pegged back on both occasions. They had the better of the first half and went in at the break ahead, but Leicester improved after the break and limited Everton to just a single, off-target shot during the second half. Leicester’s 86th minute equaliser was a deserved one.
Everton did limited but good business over the summer. They kept hold of all of last season’s regular starters, secured permanent deals for Gareth Barry (free) and Romelu Lukaku (£28 million) and added Muhamed Besic (£4 million) and Christian Atsu (loan). Relative to the club’s financial standing, Martinez has a solid and well-varied squad at his disposal.
The draw with Leicester suggested there will be no material change to the way Everton play this season. A solid central-midfield duo will supply a defensive platform that allows the full-backs to get forward in support of a fluid attacking midfield line. Lukaku will provide a strong and mobile presence up front, while in defence, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin (pictured) are still key.
Martinez will be without Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg) and Ross Barkley (knee) for this match but otherwise looks to have a fit squad to pick from.
Arsenal finished fourth last season, seven points behind title winners Manchester City, but are hopeful of closing the gap this time around after a fruitful summer of transfer business. They began their campaign with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
The Gunners were not particularly impressive, struggling to break down a well-organised Palace defence and only doing so decisively in stoppage time, when Aaron Ramsey bundled in from close range after Mathieu Debuchy’s effort had been parried into his path. Arsene Wenger was nevertheless pleased to get the season off to a winning start.
Alexis Sanchez was Arsenal’s star summer signing, moving to the Emirates in a £30 million+ move from Barcelona. The Chilean international had an excellent World Cup and will bring additional drive and vitality to the Arsenal attack. Debuchy was signed in place of the outgoing Bacary Sagna, while Calum Chambers and David Ospina have also come in.
Wenger now has a fine squad at his disposal, with good options in most positions. The Gunners are slightly weak up front, with just Olivier Giroud and the inexperienced Yaya Sanogo to call upon, but the signing of Sanchez does give Wenger the option of using a False Nine if desired. The title is probably out of reach, but Arsenal should go closer than last year.
Mikel Arteta suffered an ankle injury in the 0-0 midweek draw with Besiktas and will miss this match against his former club. Wenger will also be without Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Ospina (thigh) and Theo Walcott (knee), while Serge Gnabry (knock) and Sanogo (hamstring) are doubtful. Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker will all return.
Everton vs Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
Everton were impressive 3-0 winners in last season’s equivalent fixture. The reverse league fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, but Arsenal were comprehensive 4-1 victors when the sides met in the quarter finals of the FA Cup. The last five matches between the sides at Goodison Park have resulted in three wins for Arsenal, one for Everton and one draw.
Martinez will be keen to snap his side’s winless streak with victory and will be relatively confident of doing so having tactically out-smarted Wenger in last season’s equivalent fixture. Everton certainly have sufficient pace and craft in the final third to cause the Arsenal defence problems and also have a strong home record on their side.
Arsenal have not convinced in either of their two fixtures to date, but will certainly get stronger as players return from injury and their new signings settle. Wenger will be fully aware of the threat posed by Everton, but his side also has plenty of attacking talent and can be fancied to score and a score draw appears the most likely result.
- Back the draw and both teams to score @ best odds of 10/3 with Ladbrokes, Boylesports or Stan James. When looking for this betting event at the bookmaker of your choice be aware that this is also known as the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market.
- Early goals were scored in two of the three fixtures between the sides last season, while Everton took just 20 minutes to open the scoring against Leicester last weekend. The Toffees will start the match on the front foot, so expect to see an early goal. Back ‘under 28 minutes’ on the ‘time of first goal’ market @ 19/20 with BetVictor or Boylesports.