WILL DYER (@w2dyer) says goodbye to the Premier League season with a preview of the race for the top-four finale. Arsenal face Everton, hoping a win will be enough for Champions League qualification.
Arsenal v Everton | Sunday 15:00 | Sky Sports 1
Arsenal’s late drive for a 21st consecutive top four finish concludes on Sunday afternoon when they host Everton at the Emirates. The hosts have won six of their last seven Premier League outings, recovering from a real rough patch.
In eight games between late January and early April, they recorded a disgraceful W1-D2-L5. It looks highly likely that this late push will come up short as a result of too much damage being done in that period. If Liverpool beat Middlesbrough, Arsene Wenger’s men will finish fifth and the Reds are a best price 1/7 to do so.
Out of their Hands
The Gunners will take some confidence from Everton being restricted to a seventh place finish. Each place is worth an additional £1.9m in prize money but the Toffees have already cemented their position with a whopping 15-point gap over Southampton in eighth but six points back from United in sixth.
Furthermore, Everton could crush Liverpool’s ambition if they roll over for Arsenal and the Reds fail to beat Boro. I am not suggesting for a minute that they will, but to say they might not put in 100% would not be any stretch of the imagination.
Ronald Koeman’s charges have had a decent season. The Dutchman has thrust them back to their common place. Under David Moyes, the Toffees finished inside the top eight in eight of 10 seasons but Roberto Martinez could only manage back-to-back 11th place finishes.
The real driver for this success has been their home form. Forty-three of Everton’s 61 points have come at Goodison Park this season whereas on their travels they’ve been pretty dodgy; W4-D6-L8.
Score draws were achieved at the home of both Manchester clubs but the Toffees are now winless in their last seven Premier League away days. However, there’s one thing you can say about their away form – they’ve rarely been on the end of a spanking; Chelsea beat them 5-0 and Liverpool 3-1 but otherwise they haven’t lost a single other game by more than one goal.
With that in mind, Arsenal being as short as 4/11 looks a little unfair. The Gunners have excelled since the switch to three at the back, following on from Chelsea and subsequently Spurs’ lead. However, they’re still a long way off the consistency required to match those quotes.
Limp Over the Line
Six of Everton’s eight defeats on the road this season have been by one-goal margins and a seventh looks about right here, all things considered. I was considering Everton on the +1.5 Asian Handicap at 13/15 with BetVictor but a lack of motivation for them puts me off that.
I don’t believe the Toffees are 17/2 shots when comparing the quality of these sides but the possibility of ruining their fierce rivals Champions League dreams could filter down to the players a little and so a lacklustre performance could be on the cards.
Had Romelu Lukaku been in with a chance of sealing the Golden Boot, I may have been more swayed but Harry Kane’s four-goal haul on Thursday night puts him two back now and probably out of reach. Therefore, it’s Arsenal to win by one goal on the ‘Winning Margin’ market for me at 3/1 with Bet365.
Arsenal v Everton – Arsenal to win by exactly 1 goal (3/1 Bet365)