After kicking off last weekend, we are already in ‘big game’ territory in the Premier League as Arsenal travel to Goodison Park to face Everton and hope fare better than their 3-0 drubbing back in April.
The season started with another opening day draw for Everton after they drew against Premier League new boys Leicester City, but the Toffees have been slow starters for a while now. The update of Ross Barkley being out injured until the end of the year at the very least is the real damming news from the opening weekend for Everton, with a big year expected from the English youngster. Some acute signings have been made from the summer by Martinez though and record signing of Romelu Lukaku has signalled their intention to challenge for European qualification yet again.
Arsenal’s transfer dealings this summer has upped the excitement around the club as well as the trophy drought being banished in May, so a small lump of reality was received by the North London club on Tuesday night with a difficult trip to Besiktas ending in a 0-0 draw and a red card for Ramsey ruling him out of the important second leg. With players still to return though and the summer signings still gelling with their new team mates, there is still a lot to optimistic about and the performances near the end of September will show what Arsenal fans can realistically expect this season.
Everton have no new injury concerns, Seamus Coleman and Darren Gibson are available to return to the squad, though the latter’s involvement maybe limited due to a long-term knee injury.
Mikel Arteta is unable to face his former team and is the only absentee from injury at the time of writing; while the German World Cup winning trio – Lukas Poldoski, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker – will be checked in training before the weekend to see if they are physically ready, Wenger has confirmed that not all 3 of them will be used though.
After a successful season last year, Barry was signed by Everton in the summer as they look to continue their improvement under Roberto Martinez. The experience Barry possesses, and the calmness it projects, is important for the team with the midfield needing to match Arsenal again – just like they did at Goodison Park last season in their 3-0 victory – and retaining possession a major part of the way Everton play.
Having a pass accuracy of 86.7% over the course of last season, making 1868 passes in total, Barry repeated this performance with 83 passes at 94% accuracy against Leicester. Deployed as the deepest midfielder though, he is often the shield in front of defence and his advancing years may have limited his already small amount of pace, but his positional awareness is excellent and often valuable for Everton. Making 2.7 tackles on average per game last season alongside 52 interceptions Barry will tested on Saturday to stop an Arsenal midfield full of creativity.
The Welsh midfielder continues to go from strength to strength with Arsenal fans believing an injury-free season from Ramsey will prevent a mid-season collapse that was wrecked the Gunners title chances prospects regularly for a number of years now.
After being sent off in Turkey on Tuesday night – which in a way shows his high work rate to get defend and hassle the opposition, he made 77 tackles last season and 5 last week against Crystal Palace, although it hasn’t resulted in a red card until now – Ramsey will be expected to play the full 90 and be highly influential in who gets the result. Making 106 passes in the opening match, he won’t be expected to have as much of the ball this weekend against Everton, but his box to box style of play will likely see him add to the 4 shots and 1 goal he managed against Palace.
The last 20 home games for Everton have seen an average of 2.95 goals per game, while the last 20 Arsenal away games has seen an average of 3.15 goals per game – over 2.5 total goals is 3/4 on Betway.
The most frequent score line for both teams is a 2-0 victory (Everton 3, Arsenal x4). For this result to occur again this is 11/1 for either side being 2-0 victors.
In the last 20 matches, Baines, Giroud, and Ramsey have been the first goal scorers on 2 occasions each. For one of them to make it a third time, you can get odds of 14/1 (Baines), 11/2 (Giroud), and 15/2 (Ramsey).
Arsenal will have one eye on their Champions League 2nd leg match on Tuesday and this could play into Everton’s favour – if they can overcome the slow starts that have plagued their season over the years. With the Germans returning for Arsenal though, that added quality could just edge a tight affair in the Gunners’ favour.
You can back an Arsenal victory at 6/4 with Betway, while the draw is valued at 9/4.