Match Preview: Arsenal v Everton; The Race to Mediocrity Begins Anew
It’s been quite a while since we’ve done a match preview. There are many reasons why, but mostly because it seemed like we were writing the same thing, week in, week out. But now, there seems to be something to write about, especially as the new look Arsenal set to face a resurgent Everton.
Now, let’s not be fooled – new look doesn’t mean problems have gone away, On the contrary, the problems still persist. Looking back at the match against Swansea and the biggest clearly remain – there isn’t a suitable midfielder available to who can successfully provide cover to the back four AND speaking of the back four – well, the less said the better.
It is new look in the fact that we are likely to see a new attack hit the pitch this weekend. Henrik Mikhitaryan is set for a starting role this weekend and if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can get over a fever, he should also feature.
Combine them with the recently re-signed Mesut Özil and the attack Everton should face could be one of the most dynamic we’ve had in some time.
PEA was brought in because we suspect that Wenger has not been happy with Alexandre Lacazette’s output and also to likely replace the goals we lost when Sanchez went to United. Mkhi, is an added bonus but he’s a stout player, creative, good on the ball with excellent vision.
The question then becomes how does Wenger set up? Does he try and get all 4 on the pitch at once? Based on his comments regarding what PEA brings to the team, I am not so sure. It could be that Lacazette as soon as PEA is acclimated finds his way to the bench.
With regards to the match, like the lineup, no one knows what to expect. At home we’ve been fairly solid but we’re still capable of similar mistakes (see the United match) we find on the road. At home we’re scoring goals aplenty with an average of 2.58. Even our defensive record is better with us conceding at a rate of 1.08.
Take those averages on the road however and we see dramatic shifts. We’re only scoring an average of 1.15 on the road and more worrying allowing an average of 1.62 goals per game. Combined it leads to a “respectable” 1.84 goals scored per game average and 1.34 goals conceded per game average. I say respectable but the defensive record is hardly the thing of championships.
It says a lot about the league right now that this Arsenal, in its worse run under Wenger sits 6th and isn’t out of the top 4 race . . . yet. They could if the new recruits offer us anything, make a charge for it but the Swansea loss hurts that a lot.
They can right the ship tomorrow if they can perform against an Everton side that looks like it is finally getting the benefit of Fat Sam’s “get out of jail” heroics. Everton are arguably the biggest club he has managed and while it looked questionable for a while, it seems he has at least arrested their form.
Of course the match sees the return of Theo Walcott. I’ve got all the time in the world for him and I was genuinely happy to see him return to the scoring sheet this week. I hope that we show him the love he deserves for his service to the club. (Let’s just keep him off the score sheet this match.)
Everton will look at their midweek tie and be buoyed by their result. They come in on a day less rest and it sets up for possibly a little let down. Fat Sam isn’t all that great against Wenger and Everton in fact haven’t won away to Arsenal since 1996.
This is also the time of year when we begin our annual escape plan. Even as poor as we were last year, we missed top 4 only by a point (it was our own fault of course.) This is what we do.
We’ve made substantial changes both with incomings and outgoings. The transfer window was as much a response to the Sanchez transfer as it was to our current position in the league. We’ve seen some favorites and not so favorites leave but its time for Arsenal to put that sentimentality aside and turn this season around.
It’s been difficult to write about Arsenal this year. I am hoping (as I am sure other bloggers) that the new look gives us a fresh perspective (and some much needed wins)
Players to Watch
Arsenal. Henrik Mkhitaryan. It would be easy to pick PEA but because he is going to be a match day decision I focused on Mkhi. When he came on during Tuesday’s match, I saw something that was missing the whole match – movement, rotation and purpose, something that wasn’t visible for the first 70 minutes.
Everton. Theo Walcott. It will be emotional. Theo’s first visit since his departure. He was generally loved and respected by fans and peers.
Injuries and Suspensions
Arsenal: Welbeck (muscular injury), Cazorla (plantaris injury)
Everton: McCarthy (broken leg), Baines (calf), Steklenberg (groin), Funes Mori (knee)
Goals Scored (season average)
Goals Conceded (season average)
What the Manager Says (courtesy BBC.co.uk)
“I couldn’t do everything. I wanted to do more.
“I believe we have to find an internal solution to our defensive problems, and that means everyone putting more effort in.
“But overall I am happy with the way things went in the transfer market.”
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (15M 38Y, 0R)
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Daniel Cook
Fourth official: Craig Pawson
UK: BT Sport 17.30 GMT
US: NBC (primary network) 12:30 PM EST
Match Facts (Courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Everton’s current run of 11 Premier League matches without a win at Arsenal is their longest against any club (D4, L7).
- The Toffees have registered only two wins in 22 meetings in all competitions, most recently in December 2016.
- Arsenal have scored 100 goals against Everton, the only club to do so against another Premier League team.
- Arsenal have won only three of their last 11 league matches (D5, L3).
- The Gunners began that run fourth in the table, two points ahead of fifth. Going into this weekend they are sixth, eight points adrift of fourth.
- They have never lost a Premier League game at the Emirates Stadium in February (W17, D4).
- The Gunners have made 11 errors leading to goals this season, the most in Europe’s top five leagues.
- Only Watford (16) have lost more Premier League points from a winning position than Arsenal’s 15 in 2017-18.
- Arsenal have won all eight Premier League home fixtures this season against teams below them in the table.
- They have scored in their last 26 league games at the Emirates since a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough in October 2016.
Arsenal 2 – 1 Everton