EVERTON welcome Arsenal to Goodison Park on Saturday. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Everton v Arsenal | Saturday 21st December 2019, 12:30 | BT Sport
Both Everton and Arsenal are expected to confirm the appointments of Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta as their new managers before the sides meet at Goodison Park for Saturday’s lunch time kick-off, brining an end two caretaker reigns which brought about a bit of pride for one and more misery for the other.
Everton fans, despite enjoying the improvement in performances and results under Duncan Ferguson, appear to have welcomed the ambitious, impending appointment of Ancelotti who has an impressive CV to his name despite leaving latest club Napoli under a cloud.
Ferguson, however, will lead the Toffees out for one last time in this game and will want to see more of the same fight on show from his troops who should be more confident about getting a result from this game than they would have been several weeks ago having gone toe-to-toe with Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester in the past fortnight.
Arsenal meanwhile know that form needs to improve fast or they will become marooned in the bottom half of the table without any hope of European football next season. Arteta will know that his first priority will be to steady the ship but he will need backing in January with funding to improve the core of Arsenal’s squad.
Both of these sides head into this match with a host of injury problems to contend with which throws the outrights up in the air slightly, Arsenal in defence and Everton in their backline and midfield. Collectively, Gomes, Schneiderlin, Walcott, Digne, Gambin, Tierney, Kolasinac and Holding from those positions are in the treatment room currently with the away team also without Sokratis through suspension.
Arsenal have struggled when the ball is in the air, registering the least amount of aerial balls won and the man from Greece has won more than any other player in the Arsenal squad so with him being missing, that brings the physicality of this Everton team into betting considerations.
Everton sit third in the Premier League for aerial balls won as a team and the likes of centre backs Michael Keane and Yerry Mina will pose a threat again here if Gylfi Sigurdsson (who should return from injury) and Everton’s full-backs can get the deliveries into the box right.
Mina averages a shot on goal per game and considering that former centre back teammate Phil Jagielka scored in this fixture last season, I am going to back Mina to register a shot on target in the game at 5/2 with Coral.
The home side, buoyed by the recent form and positive news heading into the game, could well come out flying here and take advantage of the ongoing disarray at Arsenal. Freddie Ljungberg’s time in charge has seen Arsenal losing at half-time in each of their four Premier League games including being 3-0 down to champions Manchester City last weekend at the break.
Everton have scored 13 of their 20 league goals in the first half so I’m going to take a chance on them bagging again before the break as part of a double.
Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are complementing each other well together in the 4-4-2 formation deployed recently and Arsenal will need to scrap if they are to prevent the two front men from having a positive impact on the game.
Arsenal have accumulated more yellow cards (39 in total) than any other Premier League club this season so by adding Over 1.5 Arsenal cards to Everton scoring in the first 45 minutes, we get a nice 27/10 price with Bet365 using their Bet Builder feature.
Tackles are likely to fly in if Everton’s games under Ferguson are anything to go by, particularly at a raucous Goodison, so the game could well get feisty and result in a few cards with relatively card happy Kevin Friend officiating. Friend gave Arsenal two yellows in the only other game he has taken charge of them this season and I’d expect him to take note of at least a couple of Gunners players again.
Although the on-field future of both these clubs are likely to improve if the new managers are given time and resources, the flaws within their respective squads are not going to disappear overnight and the game really could go either way, so the prop markets I’ve selected appeal more.