After their second straight Premier League (PL) victory on Saturday at Leicester, Arsenal’s recent struggles appear to be behind them. After dropping seven out of a possible nine points at the beginning of February, their quest for a first title in 19 years appeared to be faltering. However, this weekend’s resolute performance, which gave Arsenal their first clean sheet in six league games, has given them a platform to increase the lead at the top to five points with a win.
Three weeks ago, Everton defeated the Gunners 1-0 in the rematch, but Mikel Arteta’s team should be confident of avenging themselves because they frequently dominate the Merseyside team at home (Arsenal has lost just one of the last 26 home Premier League meetings; W21, D4) and have only lost once this PL season (W8, D2).
Sean Dyche, the new manager of Everton, has had a rollercoaster first month in charge. In his first four Premier League matches in charge, he has won two and lost two. The relegation-threatened Toffees will attempt to win away at a team that is starting a game at the top of the table for the first time since September 1986. He believed Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa was “harsh” based on the performance level of his side (since: D5, L19).
Yet given that they’ve won four of their previous five head-to-head games against the Gunners, Arsenal might be the ideal opponent for them to achieve that feat (L1). For a side that has trouble scoring goals, Everton has also scored in six straight games against its opponents. Everton has scored less goals this season than only two other Premier League teams.
Players to keep an eye on: Gabriel Martinelli has scored in each of his previous two Premier League games for Arsenal; this is the first time in his career that he has done so in the same season. James Tarkowski, who scored the game-winning goal three weeks ago, may become the first Everton player since Tomasz Radzinski in 2003/04 to score both at home and away against the Arsenal in the same Premier League season.
By defeating Everton here, Arsenal might become the first team in English league history to accumulate 100 victories over a single opponent.
Thomas Partey’s return to the Arsenal bench against Leicester after overcoming a minor thigh issue was a sight to behold, leaving knee surgery patients Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny to keep each other company in the recovery area.
Eddie Nketiah was unceremoniously dropped from the starting lineup due to reports of a possible injury, and the Englishman may face a tough fight to reclaim his spot over Trossard or Martinelli, who survived a knee injury from Wilfred Ndidi while scoring the winning goal against Leicester and still played the full 90 minutes.
Players like Partey, Nketiah, and Fabio Vieira—whom Arteta believes are on the verge of starting—should, nevertheless, be vying for starts during the difficult March schedule given that Arteta has recently demonstrated his willingness to switch up his starting lineup.
Everton avoided injury at Villa, but Dyche is concerned. The recent thigh issue Dominic Calvert-Lewin is experiencing can be fixed in time for him to play against Arsenal, who were previously said to be interested in buying him.
Andros Townsend’s recovery from a significant knee injury will likely take a few more weeks, and Nathan Patterson’s progress from a similar issue has been hindered and he is still out of the lineup. James Garner is trying to recover from a back injury, but he’s not going to be ready in time.
Neal Maupay’s performance against the league leaders could force Dyche to go with Ellis Simms or Demarai Gray as his primary striker, but Alex Iwobi should be safe when he faces his former team.
Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; and Trossard might be Arsenal’s starting lineup.
Pickford, Coleman, Tarkowski, Coady, Mykolenko, Doucoure, Gueye, Onana, Iwobi, Gray, and McNeil might be Everton’s starting eleven.
We predict Arsenal 2-0 Everton.
Everton cannot reasonably hope to win twice against the Gunners despite being one of Arsenal’s bogey teams in recent years, especially given their poor goal-scoring record on the road.
A professional performance and a return to winning ways at the Emirates could give Arteta’s team a five-point advantage at the summit and better prepare them for the difficult physical battle that awaits them in midweek.