Buoyed by the FA Cup triumph over Chelsea, Everton will be looking to pile more misery on Arsenal and at the same time keep their slim European hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Gunners are eager to kick-start their title bid, but the reality is that their top 4 chances would be seriously damaged unless they can win at Goodison.
Seeing as how the Toffees sit in the bottom half of the Premier League standings with just eight games to go, this is likely to go down as yet another disappointing season, although the unexpected FA Cup run could offer much needed comfort. Sitting nine points behind sixth-placed Manchester United, Everton are highly unlikely to secure European qualification through league finish, so there are no doubts they will shift their focus to the FA Cup, where they will battle either Man Utd or West Ham for a place in the final. Following the league defeat to the Hammers at Goodison, not many people expected the Toffees to upset Chelsea despite playing at home, but they patiently waited for their chance and eventually grabbed it with both hands as Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku combined well for two late goals. There are no doubts the win will serve as a major confidence boost ahead of the Arsenal game, and even though the hosts don’t exactly have much to play for, they will want to keep their spirits high ahead of the decisive battles in the FA Cup.
Gareth Barry misses out after he was sent off against Chelsea, whereas Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning continue to miss out.
Tom Cleverley and Darron Gibson are also out, while Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo both face fitness tests after struggling through injury.
History keeps repeating itself when Arsenal are concerned, and it is hardly surprising to see the Gunners fans frustrated by yet another campaign that went the wrong way. After taking just one point from last three league fixtures, the Emirates outfit are virtually out of the Premier League title chase and having also crashed out of the FA Cup and Champions League, Arsenal find themselves in all sorts of problems. The lack of confidence could prove to be a serious issue now that the Gunners need to ensure they finish the campaign in top 4, as a three-point advantage over fifth-placed West Ham is not sufficient enough for a calm finish of the season. Arsene Wenger did manage to rest a couple of first team regulars in the 3-1 loss to Barcelona, but we are not convinced his side have what it takes to win this game. Arsenal have won just one of last six Premier League fixtures on the road (D3 L2), conceding 12 goals in the process, meaning their shaky back line could face serious problems in an attempt to prevent the likes of Lukaku, Barkley and Lennon from scoring.
There have been no fresh injury worries for Arsene Wenger, but Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky continue to miss out.
Francis Coquelin, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Per Mertesacker should all be recalled after they were rested in midweek.
Key Factors to Consider
- Over 2.5 goals were scored in each of their last three meetings at Goodison
- Everton have one win in last 19 games vs Arsenal (D6 L12)
- The Toffees scored two or more in each of last four fixtures
- Everton won one of last eight EPL games at Goodison
- Arsenal have one win in last six away matches in the Premiership
Everton don’t have a lot to play for at the moment, but they will want to build on the FA Cup triumph over Chelsea and attempt to improve their poor home record. Meanwhile, Arsenal will not be lacking motivation, but the visitors are completely out of confidence, so we feel the two sides will cancel each other out.
Best Odds: 13/5
Bookmaker: William Hill