Last updated April 5th, 2014
In-form Everton could move to within a point of Arsenal with victory when the sides meet at Goodison Park on Sunday (13:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Everton come into the match on the back of five consecutive victories that have put them firmly in contention for a top four finish. They are fifth in the table, with 60 points from 17 wins, nine draws and five defeats and that means they are four points behind Arsenal but with a game in hand.
The Toffees produced a superb second half performance to win 3-1 away to Fulham last weekend. Their hosts wasted a number of good opportunities in an impressive first half display, but it was Everton who were the better side after the break. Goals from substitutes Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith, in addition to a Fulham own goal, saw them to victory.
Best Betting Odds
6/4 Everton (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, SkyBet, William Hill)
2/1 Arsenal (BetVictor, Stan James, William Hill, Betfair Sportsbook)
12/5 Draw (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes, Boylesports)
Roberto Martinez (pictured) has done an excellent job since taking over from David Moyes last summer, introducing a more vibrant, possession-based style of play that has transformed Everton into the one of the league’s most attractive sides. They combine experience and good organisation on the defensive end with plenty of youthful exuberance in attack.
Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin form one of the best central defensive partnerships in the league and James McCarthy and Gareth Barry provide a solid midfield base in front of them, giving Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman license to get forward from full-back in support of a front four that combines pace, power and trickery to good effect.
Martinez will be without the injured Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Darron Gibson (knee), Lacina Traore (hamstring) and Steven Pienaar (knee) for Sunday’s match, while Ross Barkley (calf) and Jagielka (hamstring) will face late fitness tests.
Arsenal travel to Merseyside on the back of two wins, three draws and three defeats in their last eight league matches. It is a run of form that has seen them fall away from contention for the Premier League title. They are fourth in the table, with 64 points from 19 wins, seven draws and six defeats.
It has certainly been a difficult second half of the season for the Gunners, who, since of the turn of the year, have both scored less and conceded more goals per match than earlier in the season, and been outscored and outshot from dangerous central areas. They remain a good team, but have lacked that little extra quality and squad depth required to maintain their title challenge.
Arsene Wenger’s men came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home to Manchester City last weekend. They were largely outplayed in the first half but were the stronger of the two teams after the break, with Mathieu Flamini scoring the equaliser and Lukas Podolski having a shot well saved by Joe Hart in the City goal.
The second half performance was based more on perspiration than inspiration, but it was nevertheless a credible result against the current favourites for the Premier League title. With a number of key players sidelined through injury, Arsenal may be forced to rely more on effort and application than quality until they return.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Abou Diaby (knee), Laurent Koscielny (calf), Mesut Ozil (hamstring), Theo Walcott (knee) for Sunday’s match. Aaron Ramsey (thigh) returned to training this week and could make the squad, although next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Wigan is probably a more realistic return date for the Welsh midfielder.
Everton vs Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal were 4-1 winners when these sides met at the Emirates in the FA Cup last month, but that result was an anomaly in recent meetings between the sides, with no more than a goal separating them in their previous eight encounters. Each of their last three league meetings have ended in a draw, including a 1-1 tie at the Emirates earlier this season.
Everton suffered a slight dip in form in the first couple of months of the year but were on fire during March, recording five consecutive victories. They have scored three times in each of their last three league matches and are playing confident, assertive football at a pivotal point of the campaign.
Arsenal were certainly more impressive in last weekend’s draw against Manchester City than in the 2-2 draw at home to Swansea and the 6-0 defeat away to Chelsea that preceded it. With a number of important players still out injured, including Ozil, the architect of the FA Cup victory over Everton, a draw is probably the best they can hope for from Sunday’s fixture.