Everton vs Arsenal: Match Preview and prediction

Everton and Arsenal have not been traditional rivals. Looking at the current state of the clubs, however, today’s game at Goodison Park can be dubbed as the “incoming manager derby”.

Both clubs have fallen far off pre-season expectations as the Toffees are near the drop zone and the Gunners are swimming in the waters of mid-table mediocrity.

The interim manager effect

Arsenal announced the appointment of former captain Mikel Arteta as the new head coach.

Everton are also set to finalize Carl Ancelotti as their new manager.

This match, however, will be presided over by the clubs’ current interim managers – Duncan Ferguson (Everton) and Fredrik Ljungberg (Arsenal).

Under Ferguson, Everton have drastically improved as they defeated Chelsea and then drew with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Under Ljungberg, Arsenal have been their usual inconsistent selves and were at the receiving end of a Kevin de Bruyne masterclass last weekend.

It will be interesting to see which group of players will turn for their interim managers’ last game in charge.

Team news

Arsenal have a whole host of injury troubles heading into this game. Left-back is the biggest issue for the Gunners as both Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac are sidelined.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos will be suspended for this game due to accumulating five yellow cards. That means Arsenal will have to field David Luiz and possibly Shkodran Mustafi in central defense. That’s one big recipe for a defensive disaster.

The hosts will also have notable absentees including former Arsenal man, Theo Walcott as well as Lucas Digne. There is hope that Gylfi Sigurdsson and Djibril Sidibe will be available for Everton.

Key Battles

Michael Keane vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Keane Aubameyang Everton Arsenal
Michael Keane will have a hard time keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet

Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been Arsenal’s best player by a mile this season. Without his goals, the Gunners would be in the thick of a relegation battle.

Everton have conceded 29 goals this season and it is clear that Michael Keane has been far from his best. Today he’ll have his work cut out in containing Aubameyang. 

The Gabonese has a tendency to drift in from the left with dangerous runs. If Keane is able to read Aubameyang’s movement and contain him, the battle is half won.

Dominic-Calvert Lewin vs David Luiz

Calvert-Lewin Luiz Everton Arsenal
Everton can expect Calvert-Lewin to get ahead of Luiz in aerial duels

Richarlison might be Everton’s leading goalscorer but the win over Chelsea showed how dangerous Dominic-Calvert Lewin can be when there is little to no defensive resistance.

Ljungberg will be forced to insert David Luiz into the lineup. The Brazilian’s ineffectiveness in air will be something that Ferguson and Calvert-Lewin will be looking to exploit. The English forward’s aerial ability allows him to trouble keepers and also engage in important hold-up play.

Even if the ball is on the ground, Luiz will more or less be a pedestrian as his tackling rate has also gone down exponentially this season.

Match Prediction

History and numbers are on Arsenal’s side.

The Gunners have won 33 games and scored 107 goals against Everton – more than any other side in the Premier League.

Arsenal have also won four of their last five games against the Toffees in the league.

That, however, is history. 

In the present day, both clubs are in dire straits. Their defences especially are like hotels where anybody can waltz in.

Keeping that in mind, I expect both sided to score and share points. Even if the attackers underperform, the sides’ defensive ineptitude will make sure that goals are scored.

Predicted score: Everton 1-1 Arsenal

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