Best Odds: 9/2
Bookmakers: Bet 365
Arsenal host Everton at the Emirates on Saturday for the Theo Walcott derby. The winger will likely feature against his former side, and has started off life on Merseyside in scintillating form. The Gunners will need a win from this game in order to prevent themselves from falling any further behind their top four rivals. The Toffees meanwhile will be looking to continue their ascent of the table under Sam Allardyce, and attempt to find a good spell of form.
The Gunners have been incredibly consistent when it comes to top four Premier League finishes under Arsene Wenger, but last season saw the end of that incredible streak as they ended the season in fifth. This season they seem to be heading for sixth, which will represent a huge step backwards, even if it is just one place. Arsenal currently sit eight points off fourth place Chelsea, and their recent results go a long way towards highlighting their inconsistency. Shock defeats to Bournemouth and Swansea have sandwiched a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace, and those are exactly the sorts of games that they should be winning.
The January transfer window was an interesting month for Arsenal, especially given how well they seemed to deal with losing Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean’s departure was headline news, but has recently been overshadowed by the acquisition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in addition to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. When the pair settle in the Gunners could be a formidable side, but it might take some time for the new players to gel. Wenger’s men need to turn their form around, but a clash with Everton will be a tricky encounter, especially with Sam Allardyce in charge.
Arsene Wenger isn’t facing too many injuries at present, and Jack Wilshere is the only short-term doubt for this game due to injury.
Santi Cazorla however remains out with an Achilles injury, while Danny Welbeck likely won’t be ready in time for this clash due to a lack of match fitness.
Despite their remarkable rise up the table since the arrival of Sam Allardyce, Everton’s results have actually been fairly inconsistent and erratic. A 2-1 win over Leicester ended a streak of seven games without a win in all competitions, though they registered three draws across that same spread of matches. Only two of those games ended in clean sheets for the Toffees too, which is surprising given that Big Sam is usually so keen on defensive solidity. Despite their relative struggles they have still managed to haul themselves away from danger, and sit eight points above the relegation zone in ninth position.
Surprisingly the positives come when we examine Everton’s newfound attacking threat, which has been augmented by the addition of Theo Walcott in the January transfer window. The former Arsenal man has scored twice and added an assist in his first two games on Merseyside, and the Toffees have been scoring much more freely than they did earlier in the season. Big Sam’s men should be feeling confident after their midweek win, and they will be looking up the table, taking aim at seventh place Burnley next.
Seamus Coleman returned to action in midweek, but Everton are still without first choice left back Leighton Baines due to a calf injury. Ramiro Funes Mori is also out for the long-term with a knee issue.
James McCarthy is the only other absentee as he begins recovery from the horrible double leg break he suffered against West Brom.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal have won just one of their last five league games, drawing two and losing two.
- The Gunners have also registered four draws in their last ten games across all competitions.
- Everton have avoided defeat in their last two league games, having lost their previous three.
- The Toffees have also drawn three of their last eight games across all competitions.
- Sam Allardyce has a habit of upsetting the traditional big teams, usually by grinding out a 0-0 draw.
Arsenal find themselves in a horrendous patch of form, losing to both Bournemouth and Swansea during their last three league games, and Everton have become a well-drilled side under Sam Allardyce. I expect the Toffees to make it difficult for the Gunners, and their recent win will give them the confidence to cause an upset here. Arsenal have enough to get a point, but no more than that.
Best Odds: 9/2
Bookmakers: Bet 365
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