Competition: Premier League – Everton FC vs. Arsenal FC
Venue: Goodison Park – Saturday, March 19 – 12:45 GMT (08:45 ET)
Match Odds: Everton 13/8 – Draw 5/2 – Arsenal 6/4
Everton enter this game off the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Chelsea last weekend in the FA Cup and will hope to follow that victory up with a positive league result against Arsenal.
Everton are seen as massive underachievers in the league this season, as despite scoring 13 more than any other team in the bottom half, they find themselves sat in 12th place.Embed from Getty Images
It really is remarkable how Everton are in the bottom half, considering their free-scoring approach, but defensively they have been poor and are 13 points off the top four – with European football highly unlikely to be returning to Goodison Park next term.
Some may argue that they are only playing for the FA Cup now, with a semifinal at Wembley to look forward to, but Roberto Martinez will be desperate to try and see his side finish in the top half.
Arsenal on the other hand are still in title race, just. That’s despite a poor recent run of results which has left them 11 points off leaders Leicester, with a game in hand.
They were knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup over the course of the last seven days and are left with just the Premier League to fight for. Arsene Wenger’s position is under immense scrutiny and it looks like Arsenal’s wait for the title will be extended this year.Embed from Getty Images
This is crunch time for Arsenal. Despite the huge gap they have to overcome, Arsenal will still need to press for the title because Manchester City and Manchester United are breathing down their neck for a Champions League spot – something Wenger’s men need to wrap up at the very worst.
The reverse fixture ended 2-1 to Arsenal at the Emirates back in October, although the Toffees have only lost one of their last four home clashes against Arsenal and will hope to pick up at least a point on Saturday.
Everton will be without Tony Hibbert, Steven Pienaar and Tyias Browning through injury. Bryan Oviedo is a doubt with illness. Gareth Barry will also miss out as he serves a one-game suspension.
Arsenal have as many as six first-team regulars on the sidelines for this one as Petr Cech, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all out with injuries. Danny Welbeck will hope to continue to lead the line in place of Olivier Giroud.
Everton’s last five: W/W/L/W/L
Arsenal’s last five: W/W/L/L/D
Key Stat: Everton have only won one of their last 18 meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, losing 11 of them.
Key Player: Mesut Ozil – The German playmaker has been quiet by his standards recently and the Gunners need him more than ever. Whether he plays well or not, his performance will have a huge effect on the result here.
Everton 1-1 Arsenal – Arsenal will feel proud of their fight and effort at the Nou Camp midweek but this Everton side is tough to break down, so taking three points from the Toffees will be a really tough task. Both sides will expect to score and a score draw looks the most likely outcome.