Arsenal will be looking to return to winning ways when they take on a resurgent Everton side at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Premier League action resumes this weekend with Gameweek 18 of the 2019-20 season. The latest round of fixtures begins with a meeting between two sides that are in a transitional period and will be desperate for a win, as Everton play hosts to Arsenal at Goodison Park in Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off.
Everton endured a horrendous start to the season, winning just four of their first 15 Premier League games before Marco Silva was sacked earlier this month. Duncan Ferguson has since been in temporary charge of the first-team and has done rather well in a daunting start to his short spell, beating Chelsea before holding Manchester United to a 1-1 draw last week.
The Toffees were booted out of the Carabao Cup by Leicester City on penalties this week, but not before a strong fightback, having come from two goals down to hold the Foxes to a 2-2 draw at the end of 90 minutes. Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly set to be appointed as the new Everton boss, but Ferguson will be in-charge against Arsenal.
Arsenal, too, have been reeling from a poor beginning to the current campaign, which cost Unai Emery his job last month. Freddie Ljungberg has been the caretaker manager for nearly a month now, but has been unable to improve the Gunners’ fortunes. Saturday will be Ljungberg’s final game as the interim boss, with Mikel Arteta officially being appointed as the new head coach.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 1-0 win for Everton, with an early Phil Jagielka goal condemning Arsenal to a narrow defeat. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Duncan Ferguson has a spate of roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of what could be his final game in-charge of Everton. Against Arsenal on Saturday, the Everton caretaker manager could be without as many as eight first-team players.
The likes of Lucas Digne (groin), Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (calf) and Theo Walcott (calf) are all definite absentees. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Djibril Sidibe are recovering from illness and are facing a race against time to be available against Arsenal, while Fabian Delph will likely be assessed ahead of the game.
The major absentee for Everton could be Digne and in his stead, Leighton Baines could continue in the left-back spot. Baines scored a thunderous goal against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup and will be buoyed heading into the Arsenal game. With Sidibe being doubtful, Seamus Coleman is a certain starter on the right.
Michael Keane and Yerry Mina will pair up at the heart of the Everton defence once again, while Jordan Pickford will take his place between the sticks. Ferguson is expected to line his side up in a 4-4-2 formation once again and with Walcott unavailable, Bernard and Alex Iwobi should be the two wide midfielders.
In the middle of the park, Tom Davies is a certain starter, with Sigurdsson being his likely partner if he has recovered from his illness. If not, Mason Holgate could start as a central midfielder once again, providing cover to the defence. Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will form the strike partnership once again.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines; Bernard, Sigurdsson, Davies, Iwobi; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
Freddie Ljungberg has a multitude of fitness concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Liverpool to take on Everton. On Saturday, the Arsenal caretaker boss could be without as many as six first-team players due to injuries, while regular centre-back Sokratis is unavailable due to suspension.
Those who will certainly miss out due to their respective fitness troubles are Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Sead Kolasinac (ankle) and Dani Ceballos (hamstring). Hector Bellerin (hamstring), Rob Holding (knee) and Mesut Ozil (foot), though, face late fitness tests to determine their availability for the Everton game.
Ozil’s doubtful nature coupled with his drop in form could force Ljungberg to switch his formation, with the Arsenal interim manager likely to line his side up in a 4-3-3 formation. Bernd Leno was the sole positive on a dreadful evening against Manchester City last weekend and will take his place in goal once again.
Bellerin would start as Arsenal’s right-back if deemed fit to start. Otherwise, Calum Chambers could move out to the right side of the Arsenal defence, with Ainlsey Maitland-Niles likely to be deployed as a makeshift left-back in the absence of Tierney and Kolasinac. Bellerin’s availability will also determine the central defensive partnership.
In case Bellerin starts, Chambers will have David Luiz as his partner at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Otherwise, Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi could form the central defensive partnership. The three-man midfield should have Granit Xhaka at the base, with Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi providing support.
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the line against Everton and as Ljungberg iterated last week, Alexandre Lacazette will be on the bench, with the star strikers not expected to start together. Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli should be the two wide men, providing pacy outlets on the flanks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Luiz, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock; Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli
1. Everton Draw No Bet @ 1.66
1. Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score anytime @ 11.00
- Everton beat Arsenal 1-0 in last season’s corresponding fixture in April, but have not won successive league games against the Gunners since a run of three between March 1985 and April 1986.
- Arsenal have won 33 Premier League games and scored 107 goals against Everton, more than they have against any other side.
- Everton have earned 16 points in 2019 against last season’s top six sides. Only Manchester City and Leicester City have fared better.
- Arsenal have gone 14 league and cup fixtures without a clean sheet, their longest streak since a run of 21 games between October 1983 and February 1984.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored seven of Arsenal’s 10 Premier League away goals this season.
Player to Watch
If someone exemplifies the roller coaster of a ride that has been Arsenal’s season so far, it is Xhaka. Not too long ago, the Swiss was the club captain at the Emirates before a verbal altercation with the fans saw him being stripped of the post several weeks ago. Now back in the side, Xhaka is slowly getting back into the fans’ good books.
A concussion had ruled him out of action for the last couple of weeks, but Xhaka is now fit to return. The former Arsenal captain will be eager to restore the control that has been missing from Arsenal’s midfield for some time now. If so, the Gunners could be on their way towards a much-needed win. A result that depends to a great extent on Xhaka’s performance on the day.
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Everton look a completely different side under Duncan Ferguson, showing the fighting spirit that they had desperately lacked under Marco Silva this season. Arsenal, on the other hand, have only continued remaining miserable, with a dreadful defence bringing them down further.
Mikel Arteta will be watching the action from the stands at Goodison Park on Sunday and chances are so will Carlo Ancelotti, who is the heavy favourite to be the next Everton boss. With that in mind, both sides will likely leave it all on the line to get the big win.
Everton, though, seem to be brimming with confidence and belief which should take them over the line, especially against an abysmal Arsenal defence, which needs a lot of work. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Duncan Ferguson & co., with the Scot signing off as the interim manager in style.