Arsenal have had a tough couple of weeks. It had been hoped, perhaps even expected, that they would finally return to the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. Supporters had been expecting the team to finish the job. However, defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle have left their hopes hanging by a thread. It is no longer in their own hands and they need Tottenham to drop points. On Sunday, they welcome a jubilant Everton to the Emirates Stadium. The Merseysiders have confirmed their Premier League status next season and there is now no pressure on them this weekend.
Despite the recent defeats and a probable failure to finish in the top four, it has been a positive season of progression for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal. The Gunners are now competing to finish in the top four and they will hope that they can maintain that standard for years to come. The young squad should bode well for the future, but there will be some short term disappointment if they do end up missing out on the Champions League. Regardless of Tottenham’s result, a good performance and a win will end the season on a positive note for the Gunners.
It has been a strange season for Everton. On and off the pitch, it has been average at best and there will be long term concerns about their financial situation. However, there has been a great atmosphere at Goodison Park and this could be the start of something special for Frank Lampard. The Chelsea legend is a hugely divisive character, with some believing he is a promising coach, while others believe he is out of his depth. Regardless of your thoughts on Lampard, the Everton job would have been difficult for anyone and he has done well to steer them to safely. The next challenge will be to stabilise Everton and get them back up the table. The summer will be huge for the long term future of the club.
Despite their progress this season, if Arsenal lose on Sunday, it will be their 14th Premier League defeat of the season. This will be their record number of losses in a single Premier League campaign.
No team has taken fewer points away from home than Everton this season. They have picked up just ten points on the road.
It has been an excellent season for Bukayo Saka, as he has progressed further since Euro 2020. He remains very young at just 20 years old, but he is already showing that he can regularly influence games at the highest level. If the Gunners do miss out on the Champions League, there could be interest in him from clubs in the competition. Although a move away is unlikely, the Gunners will know that they are at risk of losing their best players without Champions League football. This season, he has contributed 11 goals and six assists, which shows his quality in the final third. Everton haven’t been very good at the back under Frank Lampard and they could drop their intensity for this game. That should create space for Saka to cause them problems.
This could be Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s final game for Everton. He has been linked with a move to Newcastle United in recent weeks, while Sunday’s opposition are another team that could attempt to sign him this summer. It has been a disappointing season for the striker, mired by injuries. However, he has managed to have a big impact in Everton’s survival with goals in each of their last two matches. It was his excellent header that won the game for the Toffees on Thursday, confirming their Premier League status. Calvert-Lewin remains a very good striker and his recent impact is a reminder of that. Arsenal struggled against the physicality of Callum Wilson earlier this week. Calvert-Lewin has the same qualities and he could have a similar impact.
Rob Holding is available again after his suspension. Takehiro Tomiyasu is a doubt after limping off against Newcastle on Monday. Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette could be in line for a recall after being on the bench in recent matches.
There could be some rotation for Everton, now they are safe from relegation. Allan, Ben Godfrey and Donny van der Beek are all possible starters. However, Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph will be unavailable.
The last week has been very tough for Arsenal. There could be lasting impacts on the squad and it could lead to another underwhelming performance on Sunday. However, there could be a lowering of standards by Everton now that they have been confirmed as safe. It should be a home win on Sunday. Although it might not be enough to finish in the top four, it will still give them confidence to take into the summer.