Everton are tied with Arsenal in the Premier League table at 57 points, but the Gunners have two games in hand on the Blues. The prize at hand is the sixth-place spot, which allows the team to have fewer Europa League qualifiers to play in early summer.
Here’s a brief look at the two teams’ schedules, and some thoughts on whether sixth-place will still be up for grabs on Sunday May 21st when the 2016-17 Premier League season draws to a close.
- West Ham United v Everton Sat 22 Apr
- Everton v Chelsea Sun 30 Apr
- Swansea City v Everton Sat 6 May
- Everton v Watford Fri 12 May
- Arsenal v Everton Sun 21 May
The Blues have twelve points to play for before they meet the Gunners, and getting more of the summer off is a pretty good motivator. While having to play in additional qualifiers is not the end of the world, it does disrupt summer breaks and there’s nothing like an awkward trip to somewhere deep in Eastern Europe to put a hammer in the works of whatever Ronald Koeman will be cooking up 0 just ask West Ham.
Speaking of the Irons, they have pretty much ensured Premier League safety and will have little to play for but pride on Saturday, and the same goes for Watford in a few weeks. The Blues will have a battle on their hands against the Swans who are sitting in the relegation zone. Chelsea have been rudely jolted from their reverie as they cruised to the title, and will be up for the game in less than a fortnight.
It’s hard to see the Toffees winning out, but as long as they’re not playing as miserably as the first half-hour against Burnley, the Blues should pick up 8 points in those four games.
- Arsenal v Leicester City Wed 26 Apr
- Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Sun 30 Apr
- Arsenal v Manchester United Sun 7 May
- Southampton v Arsenal Wed 10 May
- Stoke City v Arsenal Sat 13 May
- Arsenal v Sunderland Tue 16 May
- Arsenal v Everton Sun 21 May
After this weekend, the Gunners will have three games in hand on the Blues as they look to salvage something of their season with an FA Cup semi-final to play in. It is of almost vital importance that Everton win to give themselves a three point cushion.
Games in hand are good, but when fixture congestion towards the end of the season starts to take its toll on tired limbs and minds, it’s often better to have points in the bag.
Of Arsenal’s games, they play Tottenham away in a local derby with Spurs trying desperately to rein in Chelsea and then are home against Arsene Wenger’s nemesis Jose Mourinho - these two will be their toughest games before Everton come to town.
Even losses in those games will keep them ahead of the Blues as long as they can put away Leicester and Sunderland at home. Hope for Everton will come from their away games - traveling to Stoke is never a fun experience and the Saints will also be challenging at St. Mary’s.
We can expect Arsenal to pick up at least 8 points in their next six games, which then sets the table for a meeting at Emirates where both teams are tied on points, close on goal difference and everything to play for on the last day of the season.