The Big Match Tactical View: Arsenal v Everton

Could this be Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal farewell?
Could this be Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal farewell?
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Arsenal seem unlikely to qualify for the Champions League - but can they record their fifth consecutive Premier League victory? Michael Cox looks at the tactics and Alan Thompson provides the betting insight...

"Even a victory over Everton is unlikely to be enough to secure Champions League football for Arsenal"

Arsenal v Everton
Sunday, 15:00

Match Odds: Arsenal [1.44], Everton [8.2], The Draw [5.4].

Arsenal are set to finish outside the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger - even a victory over Everton here is unlikely to be enough to secure Champions League football for next season.

The Gunners start only a point behind Liverpool, and three behind Manchester City. But it seems unlikely that Liverpool won't defeat Middlesbrough comfortably. Meanwhile, Watford have lost their last five matches, and with Walter Mazzarri busy clearing his desk, it's difficult to imagine them defeating Manchester City. Therefore, an Arsenal win here might be academic.

There's also less interest than expected in terms of the Golden Boot race - with Romelu Lukaku on 24 goals and Alexis Sanchez on 23, it looked like this would be a final day shootout for the top goalscorer prize. But Harry Kane's four-goal haul on Thursday night means he's jumped onto 26 goals and is likely to wrap up that award. Lukaku and Sanchez are battling it out for second place.

Arsene Wenger will continue with the 3-4-3 system he's been using in recent weeks, although he might deem it unwise to risk anyone with a slight injury here - ahead of next weekend's FA Cup final. Laurent Koscielny has been struggling with an Achilles injury which means he could miss out here, Aaron Ramsey limped off in midweek against Sunderland and probably won't make it, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn't officially out, but it would be a huge surprise to see him start here.

Shkodran Mustafi will probably play in the central defensive role, with Rob Holding continuing to his right. Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin will continue out wide.

Wenger still hasn't entirely made up his mind about whether to play Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck upfront in this system. Welbeck seems the better option here, against an Everton defence that plays relatively high up the pitch.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have been in fine form recently, combining impressively for excellent goals against both Stoke and Sunderland in Arsenal's last two games, and will be Arsenal's most dangerous players here.

Everton are guaranteed to finish in seventh place, and therefore have absolutely nothing to play for here. Ronald Koeman is unlikely to make any significant changes to his side, and it's worth remembering that Everton have one of the best defensive records in the league, meaning an Arsenal victory is far from a formality.

Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye will patrol the midfield and attempt to stop Ozil from getting on the ball between the lines, while Tom Davies will push forward into attack more. Ross Barkley has often performed well against Arsenal, and will drop into midfield positions from a right-sided starting position.

Lukaku will generally work the inside-right channel, probably targeting Nacho Monreal as Arsenal's least natural central defender, while Kevin Mirallas will make quick runs on the opposite flank, always providing Everton with options in behind Arsenal. Indeed, it feels like this Everton attack could exploit the gaps in Arsenal's backline, and the Gunners twice conceded chances to Sunderland in midweek when players ran into the inside-left channel.

I fancy goals in this one, with Arsenal needing to take the game to Everton, but their defence not looking entirely secure. Both teams to score, at [1.75], looks decent value.

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

Arsenal kept their slim hopes of a top four finish alive on Tuesday with a late 2-0 win over relegated Sunderland, stretching their winning streak to four matches and making it seven wins from their last eight games in all competitions. Despite a top four finish not being in their own hands I do think they will get the win they require on Sunday, but I don’t think it will be enough.

They have won an impressive 10 of their last 12 home games in the Premier League and haven’t conceded a league goal at The Emirates since the start of April.

Everton have had seventh place tied up for some time now and they managed to win 1-0 at home to Watford last week, but they have only won three of their last eight in all competitions and have lost three times too. Away from Goodison things are even worse, they haven’t won a game on the road since January scoring just five goals in their last seven away matches and conceding nine.

Arsenal showed again midweek that they can often find it difficult to break sides down at the Emirates. The majority of their home goals this season have come in the second half and they have also been 0-0 at half time in 39% of their home games.

I will be backing Draw/Arsenal at [5.0] in the Half Time/Full Time market and I will also be backing Alexis Sanchez to continue his good form at around [4.5] in the First Goalscorer market.

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