Premier League Preview and Pick: Everton vs. Arsenal
Breakdown and Best Bet for Arsenal-Everton
The Premier League weekend gets started on Friday afternoon with a critical mid-table clash between Arsenal and Everton. The Gunners are at home and favored with a moneyline of -111 compared to Everton’s moneymen of +298. Meanwhile, the moneyline for a draw is set at +264.
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The Gunners avoided disaster last weekend when they were able to rescue a point against Fulham with a 97th-minute goal. However, Mikel Arteta’s team still dropped points against a team in the relegation zone, leaving them nine points out of the top-4 with just six games left to play. On the bright side, they are just four points behind rival Tottenham for seventh place in the Premier League table, which could get them a spot in European competition next season if they don’t win Europa League.
The performance against Fulham resembled the Arsenal we saw earlier this month rather than the squad that beat Sheffield United 3-0 and then crushed Slavia Prague 4-0 in Europa League. Arteta also has a serious problem on his hands after Alexandre Lacazette came off injured in the second half against Fulham. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been absent recently because of malaria, which could deprive Arsenal of its two leading scorers for the match against Everton.
Surely, that switches the pressure onto the Arsenal defense if the Gunners expect to get points against Everton. Arteta’s team has the fifth-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, which is impressive for a team that sits in ninth place. They’ve allowed just two goals in their last four games across all competitions, including the penalty conceded against Fulham last week. This is a positive sign for a club that doesn’t look exceptional defensively when you look at the lineups Arteta has been running out there recently.
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Everton finds itself in an almost identical spot as Arsenal at the moment. Of course, the Toffees are three points ahead of the Gunners, currently sitting eighth in the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand compared to most teams ahead of them. The problem for Carlo Ancelotti’s team is they’re winless in their last five Premier League games, including three consecutive draws. Yet, Everton is only six points from a top-4 spot.
Much like Arsenal, the Toffees are expected to be without their top talisman this weekend. Dominic Calvert-Lewin hasn’t played since April 5, creating a void in the Everton attack, even with James Rodriguez pulling the strings in the midfield. Brazilian attacker Richarlison hasn’t scored since March 4, failing to step up in Calvert-Lewin’s absence. Gylfi Sigurdsson might be the team’s most reliable scorer at the moment after he netted both goals in last week’s draw with Tottenham.
Meanwhile, Everton is coming off a game in which two defensive blunders cost them a pair of goals. Injuries are also impacting Everton’s backline, which explains why the club has conceded two goals in four of their last six games across all competitions. Even with goalie Jordan Pickford back from injury, there are questions about Everton’s ability to keep teams off the scoresheet.
It’s a lot easier to spot flaws in both of these teams than come up with reasons why they’ll walk away with three points on Friday evening. In theory, Everton’s defensive woes make them a little more vulnerable to coming away empty-handed. But if Lacazette and Aubameyang both miss the game, the Gunners may not have the class in the final third to take advantage of Everton’s flaws. In the end, this game figures to be Everton’s fourth consecutive draw, which will leave both sides disappointed.