27th November 2012
Some would say Everton have done well to climb to fifth in the overall standings, but the reality is they should have taken at least few more points along the way. Arsenal, too, have squandered quite a few chances to improve their league position, meaning that both sides will have something to prove at Goodison Park.
Had Everton been properly rewarded for all their good showings this season, they would probably now be very much involved in the title race, but the reality is the Toffees are no less than four points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea. Everybody agrees that the standard of their performances is much higher than last season, but the lack of cutting edge is proving to be a major issue. Everton cannot be expected to mount a serious top 4 challenge if they continue to drop points like this, and they desperately need one morale-boosting win to prove everyone they have what it takes to mix it up with the best of them in English Premier League. The return of Marouane Fellaini should be a huge boost for the Toffees, but Kevin Mirallas is unlikely to be risked as he still battles a hamstring injury. Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman also return, but Phil Neville remains a long-term casualty.
Arsenal can take some heart from their five-match unbeaten run, but the Gunners are not the sort of team that would be happy with three draws in last five games. Arsene Wenger opted to rest Jack Wilshire in the goalless draw with Aston Villa, which probably cost him the two points, given that the Gunners desperately lacked the midfielder’s creativity as they struggled to unlock Villa’s defence. Arsenal came close to scoring on several occasions, but one point was nothing less than they deserved for an under-par performance. Having now slipped to six place in the overall standings, the Gunners have no option but to try and beat Everton, with the return of Wilshire and Walcott likely to increase their chances of getting something from Goodison. Abou Diaby, Andre Santos, Tomas Rosicky and Lukasz Fabianski are not yet ready to return.
Even if both Everton and Arsenal were misfiring at the weekend, I certainly expect to see a very open game at Goodison. Both sides will be very motivated to return to winning ways and the reality is they have more than enough firepower to hurt opposition defences. Therefore, I see a good value in betting on over 2.5 goals
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/4