Arsenal will be gunning for a win over Everton and hope for a favour from elsewhere to secure Champions League football, although their chances look grim.
At the start of Arsenal’s season, nobody would have predicted this Arsenal team would finish fifth or above. The Gunners have put themselves in a situation where they cannot finish below fifth, although a few weeks ago, the fourth spot was theirs for the taking.
Two losses against Tottenham and Newcastle United have pushed the former in pole position to finish in Champions League places on the final day. Arsenal will qualify for European football’s top competition only if Norwich City manage to beat Spurs and Arsenal secure three points against Everton.
Such a scenario is still possible, but improbable to think of right now, given Norwich’s form during the entire season. The Gunners will be keen on ending their season with a victory. Arsenal may have to carry on the tag of ‘bottlers’ into the next campaign, despite a fifth-place finish, which is still considered an overachievement.
The visiting team at the Emirates for the last time this season are Everton, who will be in a joyous mood after what transpired in midweek. The Toffees had been in a relegation dogfight for the many weeks leading up to Matchday 37, and deserve massive credit for changing their fortunes.
Frank Lampard’s men secured a superb comeback victory over Crystal Palace, sending Goodison Park into raptures by securing their safety from relegation. Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin became the faces of the match, as their goals were enough to collect three points.
Everton will now enter the last game of the season in an optimistic mood and under no pressure whatsoever to get a result, which may go both ways for the Toffees.
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📺 Our final training edit of the season…
One last push, lads 👊
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 20, 2022
There are not many new problems for Arsenal after the Newcastle United game, although Takehiro Tomiyasu could sit out the final match. The Japanese full-back appeared to go down holding his thigh, which may be a hamstring problem.
Fit-again centre-backs Gabriel and Ben White are expected to be available, while Rob Holding returns from suspension following his red card against Tottenham. Thomas Partey returned to training, although there is no chance of Mikel Arteta involving him and taking a risk with his fitness in the last game of the season.
The manager may also not take a risk with Ben White, as Holding could take his place in central defence alongside Gabriel. Nuno Tavares and Cedric Soares are expected to start in full-back roles.
Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka are likely to remain in central midfield, while Arteta could make one alteration to his attacking lineup. Gabriel Martinelli could replace Emile Smith Rowe on the left side after a below-par performance against Newcastle.
Bukayo Saka will likely keep his place on the right side of the attack, while Martin Odegaard will play in the No.10 role behind the leading striker. Eddie Nketiah will start once more ahead of Alexandre Lacazette in that role. The Frenchman could bid farewell to the Emirates crowd with a cameo appearance at some point during the game.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares; Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah
Lampard could afford to give some tired legs a rest after Everton secured their safety from relegation with one game to go. The manager could make essential changes like bringing on Ben Godfrey and Donny van de Beek, as the duo were available on the bench in the previous game.
💙 | “Everyone in the world would have written us off at 2-0 down.
“But I knew we’d win, I knew we had it in us to do that."@anthonygordon never gave up hope. 💪
— Everton (@Everton) May 21, 2022
Yerry Mina has a slight chance of making it to the squad, although Lampard is unlikely to risk the Colombian. The same goes for Fabian Delph. Jarrad Branthwaite will return from his suspension, although Salomon Rondon remains out after receiving a straight red card against Brentford.
Meanwhile, Demarai Gray will hope for a start after a bright cameo against Palace. The attacker could come in place of Anthony Gordon, who looked a bit tired in the midweek encounter.
Lampard might yet again prefer a back three and could rely on the likes of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin to get the goals in the attack. Dele Alli could also get a start after a terrific display against Palace, meaning he will pair with Abdoulaye Doucoure in central midfield.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Pickford; Holgate, Keane, Godfrey; Iwobi, Doucoure, Alli, Mykolenko; Gray, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison
- Arsenal have won just one of their last six Premier League games against Everton.
- Arsenal have lost their last three Premier League games against Everton.
- Arsenal have scored 112 goals against Everton in the Premier League – only Man Utd v Newcastle have scored more goals against a single opponent in the history of this competition.
- Arsenal have won each of their last ten final day matches in the Premier League.
- Everton have failed to win 15 of their last 16 away matches in the Premier League.
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Xhaka will be hoping his comments after the Newcastle United clash will echo in the Arsenal dressing room and that his teammates take the words seriously ahead of the last game. The Swiss star was still a consistent presence in an otherwise out of sorts Gunners setup, and he will look to rally the team ahead of the Everton game.
He also has to do the talking on the pitch and make sure his attacking teammates have a solid base to operate on. Xhaka and Arsenal have missed Partey since his injury, who gave the Swiss midfielder the freedom to dictate things from an attacking role. But, the Switzerland international will have to soldier on without his midfield partner for one last game this season.
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Arsenal know they cannot finish below fifth, so in that aspect, the expectations are not a hindering point. However, after falling to two defeats in two games on the bounce, the Gunners will be keen not to build a trend of losing three games in a row for the third time this season.
The Gunners are hoping for a miracle over at Norwich City, and to keep their end of the bargain, they are under pressure to take three points from a resurgent Everton side. The Toffees will play with a free mind for the first time in many months, although the Gunners at the Emirates will be a hard team to beat.