Premier League Tactical Preview: Revitalised Arsenal can win at Everton

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti could face a surprisingly tough game against Arsenal

For Premier League Gameweek 14 Alex Keble picks out four key tactical battles and says Arsenal can get back to winning ways at Goodison Park...

"Sigurdsson's positional work as a deeper midfield isn’t quite good enough, and with Saka, Tierney, and Aubameyang all moving intelligently around him this is a serious problem area for the Toffees."

Zaha & Eze could cause Klopp problems

Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Saturday, 12:30
Live on BT Sport 1

The pattern of this match is very easy to predict. Roy Hodgson will sit Palace in a deep block and look to absorb pressure as Liverpool try to keep the energy up and probe around the edge of the box. Tottenham Hotspur were quietly effective doing this in midweek, and as well as creating three big chances they were millimetres away - a slightly short pass, a slightly heavy touch - from unzipping the Liverpool defence on a few occasions.

Liverpool's centre-backs will be exposed in a high line, while the advancing runs of Trent Alexander-Arnold will open up space for Eberichi Eze and Wilfried Zaha to counter-attack down his side.

Long balls forward out of defence will prove problematic for the visitors and with Hodgson's team in such good form we can anticipate some piercing breaks.

However, Spurs' 4-4-2 formation did give Liverpool lots of chances to build centrally. As Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah dipped infield, Curtis Jones and Roberto Firmino helped expose the vulnerability of a two-man midfield. Crystal Palace will probably suffer from a similar issue for long stretches of this one, meaning goals at both ends of the pitch.

Passive City to lose out to energetic Saints

Southampton v Manchester City
Saturday, 15:00
Live on Amazon Prime

Pep Guardiola's side continue to look too passive, both playing too many low-tempo sideways passes in possession and failing to press adequately when the ball is lost. This allows the opponent to get their head up and break, as well as sit tight and minimise space in the final third.

The last team City want to be facing when they're this lethargic - when fatigue has led to consecutive draws - is an energetic Southampton.

They played within themselves against Arsenal, but that was partly because of the 3-4-3 they faced (more on that below). For this one, Ralph Hasenhuttl's 4-2-2-2 formation is well suited, with their targeted pressing traps likely to disrupt Man City's rhythm and their explosive breaks - funnelled through the centre - likely to catch Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan looking too meek.

James Ward-Prowse will be joined by the two wingers, who, cutting inside, can seek to break at speed towards a makeshift City centre-back partnership. Southampton will be first to every second ball and sharper in the challenge, pointing to a Southampton win.

pep guardiola sad 1280.jpg

Saka can outfox Sigurdsson in tight game

Everton v Arsenal
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Arsenal were much better in the 1-1 draw against Southampton, mainly because Mikel Arteta moved back to the hybrid 3-4-3/4-3-3 formation that had brought him so much success towards the end of last season. In this shape, Bukayo Saka flits between left wing-back and central midfield while Kieran Tierney plays as an overlapping centre-back.

These two caused Southampton problems, and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dropping off from a left forward position, Arsenal attackers frequently found themselves in interesting spaces between the lines. Everton look susceptible to this despite a strong defensive record of late; Carlo Ancelotti's 4-3-3 has Gylfi Sigurdsson on the right of a midfield three.

His positional work as a deeper midfield isn't quite good enough, and with Saka, Tierney, and Aubameyang all moving intelligently around him this is a serious problem area for the Toffees. It will most likely be a tight game with few clear chances for either side - but Arsenal, via Saka, have the edge.

Justin can flourish away from congested midfield

Tottenham v Leicester City
Sunday, 14:15
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Brendan Rodgers will surely move back to a 3-4-2-1 formation now that Jonny Evans returns from suspension. His team were very poor in a 4-2-3-1 against Everton in midweek and will be relieved to return to the structure that has seen James Maddison and James Justin excel in recent weeks. Maddison, supported by multiple bodies centrally, tends to perform best in this formation.

And Justin was excellent in the 3-0 win over Brighton, overlapping from right wing-back to arrive late in a move and swing crosses into the box. He is the key to Leicester pulling off a narrow victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tottenham will probably move to a 4-3-3 for this game, which means a stodgy and low-scoring contest as two very narrow teams cancel each other out. It certainly doesn't help that both managers will be happy with a point, meaning Leicester City and Spurs will hold cautious defensive positions to negate Heung-Min Son and Jami Vardy respectively. As the game is sucked inwards, that could create extra room for the in-form Justin. Ultimately a draw is the most likely result.

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