Everton have often played a very welcoming host against Arsenal in the past, allowing the visitors to settle in and dictate the game. Marco Silva will be looking to change that on Sunday as the Blues pit their poor home record (feels strange to even say that) against a Gunners side that has traveled poorly this season (doesn’t feel strange to even say that).
The Toffees have won two straight games now with identical 2-0 scorelines, and Silva will be looking to his defence to pick up their fifth clean sheet in the last six games while trying to hold off a prolific Arsenal attack that has traditionally feasted on the Everton backline’s profligacy.
How bad have the Blues been against Arsenal? Sample this stat - Arsenal have won more games (33), points (112) and away games (12), and scored more goals (107) and away goals (43) than any other opponent in the Premier League, while their 97 wins against Everton in all competitions is the most by any one side against another in English football. Yikes.
Everton do have two memorable wins at Goodison Park against Arsenal though, 2-1 in December 2016 and a memorable 3-0 thrashing on this very day five years ago when Roberto Martinez deployed Romelu Lukaku out on the right.
Everton have been very impressive with their organization and energy in the last few games, and will be looking to the home crowd to rouse the Grand Old Lady as they did so effectively against Liverpool and Chelsea.
Just a few weeks ago it was looking like seventh place was gone, but with Wolverhampton and Watford FC dropping points and Everton and Leicester City’s resurgence, we could be in for a close battle for the ‘best of the rest’ title, and it starts with a win on Sunday.
Arsenal find themselves in a similar battle, with four teams fighting it out for the last two Champions League spots - a win for the Gunners will lift them into third place and pole position for another close battle.
Yerry Mina will miss out again with his hamstring injury suffered during international duty.
For Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka face late injury tests while Aaron Ramsey is fit again after he left the Monday game against Newcastle. Lucas Torreira is also out after being suspended for three games.
Predicted starting XI
Pickford, Digne, Keane, Zouma, Coleman, Gueye, Gomes, Bernard, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
We could be in for a fun game that could go either way. Both teams are capable of playing attractive attacking football and both sides also have ‘best of the rest’ tags they are playing for.
For Everton, another win against a top six would go a long way towards removing any uncertainties about Marco Silva’s future at Goodison Park.