English Premier League

The Big Match Tactical View: Everton v Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should return upfront for Arsenal

"A consistent part of Everton’s attacking play involves combinations out wide before attempted cut-backs to Gylfi Sigurdsson"

Sunday's only Premier League match sees Arsenal travelling north to face Everton. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson provide the preview.

Everton v Arsenal
Sunday 14:05, Sky Sports Premier League
Match Odds: Everton 3.211/5, Arsenal 2.47/5, The Draw 3.711/4

Having spent the majority of the campaign looking like sixth-favourites for a top four slot, Arsenal suddenly find themselves in fourth position, one point behind Tottenham with a game in hand. From here, it would be a surprise if Arsenal didn't find themselves in the Champions League next season.

Arsenal need to improve on the road

The caveat, though, is that while Arsenal have an excellent home record - 14 wins from 17 games - they've struggled on the road this season, winning just five times from 14. They might not face any of the top six away from home, but they're away at 7th-placed Wolves, 8th-placed Watford, 9th-placed Leicester and 10th-placed Everton before the end of the campaign, as well as a trip to Burnley on the final day. Nevertheless, five wins and a draw at Spurs - where they should have won - bodes well for the run-in.

In less promising news, Arsenal struggling in the centre of midfield here. Lucas Torreira is still suspended for his red card at Tottenham, while both Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are rated as doubtful for this game. One of them will probably be risked here, alongside Matteo Guendouzi in a midfield duo.

They're likely to be protecting a three-man defence, the system that Unai Emery used for Monday's 2-0 win over Newcastle. Sokratis Papastathopoulos has performed well in the centre of the trio, with Laurent Koscielny doing well on the left. Shkodran Mustafi continues to dive into unnecessary tackles on the right, however.

Aubameyang to return?

Out wide, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has nailed down the right-sided role in the absence of Hector Bellerin, while on the left flank, Sead Kolasinac continues to storm forward energetically, although his final ball against Newcastle was poor. These players could be crucial, against an Everton side offering plenty of attacking threat from full-back.

This leaves Emery with the use of three attackers. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was only fit enough for the bench on Monday, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him return here. Emery has used Aubameyang and Lacazette together only rarely in recent months, but might feel that Everton are open enough, especially in the channels, to field both. Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil started against Newcastle, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan could return here, in place of Ozil - or in place of both, if Emery uses two forwards.

Everton vulnerable to counters

Marco Silva's Everton are in a decent run of form, having won their last two matches, although there remain serious questions about Everton's defensive ability. Recent controversy surrounding goalkeeper Jordan Pickford certainly hasn't helped.

Everton have done well by pushing their full-backs forward on the overlap recently, with Lucas Digne an excellent cross and Seamus Coleman assisting Bernard's opener last weekend. This does leave space in the channels for opponents to exploit at transitions, however, and neither Michael Keane nor Kurt Zouma are the most mobile.

Walcott could miss out

Idrissa Gueye has continued performing well despite the disappointment of his failed move to PSG in January, while Andre Gomes offers good passing quality alongside him.

They concentrate on knocking the ball out wide, where Bernard has finally registered a goal to add to his trickery on the left, while Richarlison should start from the right, probably meaning Theo Walcott is only on the bench against his former side.

A consistent part of Everton's attacking play involves combinations out wide before attempted cut-backs to Gylfi Sigurdsson, who can disappear for long periods and then pop up with a goal. He also remains a set-piece threat. Upfront, Dominic Calvert-Lewis has led the line well in recent weeks, scoring twice in his last five starts, and should continue here, although might be outnumbered by three Arsenal centre-backs.

Despite some question marks about their starting XI, I strongly fancy Arsenal here. Everton look vulnerable in the channels, and against Arsenal's speedy attackers and their intelligent attacking midifelders, I think the Toffees could come unstuck. To me, Arsenal look excellent value at 2.47/5.

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The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson

At the Emirates, the Gunners have been superb, but on the road they have only won five times this campaign (which is one more than they did last season) and only one of their last eight. They are also the only team in the league not to keep an away clean sheet.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom though. Goodison Park hasn’t exactly been a fortress for the home side, with just two wins from their last nine outings. Back-to-back wins against Chelsea and West Ham though suggest that the Toffees may not be ready to start packing for their summer holidays just yet.

There have been Under 2.5 goals in five of the last six games played at Goodison and as Arsenal have only scored more than once in one of their last six away days, if the Gunners are to get all three points here then they may well have to keep a clean sheet.

Surely, Arsenal’s away form has to improve on the run in, they have five of their remaining games on the road and if they are to fight for a top four finish they are going to have to pick up points away from the Emirates, starting here.

I will be splitting my stake backing half on Arsenal to Win in the match odds at 2.47/5 and the other half on Arsenal to Win to Nil at anything above 4.77/2.

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.