Everton v Arsenal
Monday, 6 December, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Football
Toffees in freefall
Everton's season is going from bad to worse, and they now find themselves staring right down the barrel of a relegation fight.
True, they have a five point cushion over the bottom three but that will soon disappear if they continue in their current form, which by the way, has them as the worst team in the Premier League, and by some distance too.
Rafa Benitez's men have taken just two points from the last 24 available. During that period, an eight-game form table has Everton rock bottom with at least four points fewer than every other team. They've also scored the fewest goals in that time (5) and they have by far and away the worst goal difference (-12, next worst is -8).
Even when the Toffees were winning games you could question the form. They beat Southampton (currently 14th in the table), Brighton (9th in the table but currently on a run of 10 league games without a win), and Burnley and Norwich, currently 18th and 20th in the table respectively.
Injuries to key players have undoubtedly had a big say in Everton's poor form, so the fact that Salomon Rondon has joined fellow striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the sidelines is yet more bad news, while Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies are either definitely out of highly likely to miss Monday night's game.
Gunners back in top four race
Arsenal's season is almost a mirror image of Everton's. The Gunners started very poorly but they've since come good, winning nine of their last 13 games in all competitions and moving to within touching distance of the top four.
They have lost two of their last three however, both away from home, conceding seven goals in the process.
But when you consider that those games were at Liverpool and Manchester United, and that their only other defeats this term - barring their opening day loss to Brentford - were against Chelsea and Manchester City, then perhaps this Gunners team can be summed up quite easily.
Not quite good enough to start mixing it with the big boys again, but definitely better than most teams in the Premier League.
Bearing this out even more, in Arsenal's four defeats to Chelsea, City, Liverpool and United they conceded a total of 14 goals. In their 10 wins achieved this campaign they've conceded just two goals, keeping eight clean sheets in the process.
Away win looks a big price
My gut feeling prior to previewing this game was that Arsenal should be very strong favourites to win it.
After outlining Everton's woeful form, and that they didn't really impress during their early wins, added to Arsenal's excellent form against the division's lesser lights, then I came to the conclusion that the Gunners should be odds-on to take all three points on Monday night.
So as you can imagine, I'm all over an Arsenal win at odds of 2.245/4 (Everton 3.55/2, Draw 3.711/4).
I might be dismissing Everton's chances far too easily, but in their current form, and with continued injury problems, I couldn't back them with stolen money.
Goals markets hard to call
I'm not at all surprised to see Under 2.5 Goals at 1.910/11 and Over 2.5 Goals at 2.111/10 as it really is a tight market to call.
The Under/Over isn't a market that I'm interested in but I couldn't put anyone off backing Arsenal Win to Nil at 11/4 on the Sportsbook.
Everton have failed to score in three of their last four matches and will be without their two out-and-out striker options, while when Arsenal do win they tend to do so without conceding, winning to nil in 80% of their victories this season.
Star players to shoot on target
Like everyone else I've been very impressed with the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, and along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the trio are often key to a Gunners victory.
All three should start against Everton so I had a look at their shot stats (Premier League only) for this season.
Not surprisingly Aubameyang comes out best with 18 shots on target in 1,034 minutes played (one shot on target every 57 minutes) while Smith Rowe has managed a shot on target every 95 minutes (12 in 1,142 minutes played), so it really isn't too difficult to see them performing to those averages against a poor Everton side.
Aubameyang to have two shots on target and Smith Rowe to have one - which they both achieved at Old Trafford on Thursday night - can be backed at 4.3310/3 as a Bet Builder on the Sportsbook and that will be my second wager of the game.