On the sixth of April, Arsenal will make the trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton. This is a huge game in the race for Champions League football next season. If Everton win, Roberto Martinez’s men give themselves a real chance to overtake Arsenal and finally end Arsene Wenger’s record of never missing the Champions League.
If Arsenal are able to avoid defeat, they stand a good chance of making the champions league once again due to having a much easier run in. This game could settle the top four with an Arsenal win or could blow it wide open with an Everton victory. Either way this game has huge significance.
These have been two of the most injury prone teams in the league, this season. Everton will be without Brian Oveido, Arouda Kone, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, and Lacina Traore. Ross Barkley and Phil Jagielka will face late fitness tests. Arsenal will be without Abou Diaby, Ryo Miachi, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, and Laurent Koscielny. Serge Gnabry, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, and Aaron Ramsey will all face late fitness tests. Wenger has said that both Ramsey and Monreal are likely to be fit.
The last three league meetings between the two sides have ended in draws. Arsenal have not lost to Everton in the league since May 2007. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six trips to Goodison Park. Tomas Rosicky is the only Arsenal player that is fit for Saturday that was in the Arsenal starting XI when they last lost to Arsenal. Tim Howard, Leon Osman, and Tony Hibbert are the only Everton players still with the team from that day. Mikel Arteta also started that game, but he started for Everton and this time he could be starting for Arsenal.
If Everton are to grab the crucial three points, Romelu Lukaku will need to succeed in being the focal point of the attack. Lukaku has been phenomenal on his loan spell at Everton this season scoring 12 goals and grabbing six assists. Lukaku has scored a goal every 161 minutes for the Toffees with a 22% chance conversion rate. He acts as the focal point of the attack winning the ball in the air and holding the ball up as well as scoring goals. He has arguably been Everton’s most important player this season and his injury coincided with a big dip in form for Everton. Lukaku has hugely important in Everton’s push for the top four, and will need to come up big to grab the three points that could get Everton into the top four. For Arsenal to get back on track they will need Santi Cazorla to step his game up. After a sensational debut season, Cazorla has struggled to find form, partially due to his injuries. While he has not been in the same form as last season, Cazorla is still a very good player that has the ability to win a game with his creativity. Cazorla has created a chance every 43 minutes, a very good rate for someone who is primarily a left winger. Cazorla will need to step up in a big game, something some have accused him of not doing enough, and help Arsenal get the points vs Everton.
This will be a very difficult game for two sides who play very similar styles. Everton have only lost one game at home this season and have made Goodison park a fortress. Arsenal’s struggles away from home versus top teams has been well documented. Arsenal will need to take the sting out of the game early on to stop Everton from getting in a rhythm There are not much between the two teams and I believe it will finish as a draw.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw