Arsenal will be looking to achieve their top-four ambitions as they face Everton, who has not won in eight. Arsenal and Everton will both try to improve their respective midweek results after losing to rivals. Everton continued their poor form with a 4-1 loss against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, while Arsenal lost to Manchester United by a narrow margin. Arsenal is currently fourth. Everton’s Rafa Benitez tenure continues to spiral into chaos.
In midweek Benitez’s team suffered their seventh defeat of this season, falling to Liverpool. This week, the Merseyside club is sitting in 14th place, five points higher than relegation, and with one of the worst league form records.
Benitez’s job is at risk if he doesn’t win since September. The Spanish manager, who started his career at Everton with little support due to his success at Liverpool as a manager, has lost the trust of the majority of his fans. Both results and performances are not inspiring and show no signs of improvement.
While Benitez has had a difficult time getting his Everton side moving, not all of the blame can be laid on him. Everton’s poor recruiting over the last five years is finally starting to catch up to them. Their best players have either been sold or are now past their prime.
Merseyside is in a difficult spot, with some of their best players being out of action for large periods of the season due to injury. Fans may have called for Benitez to be fired on Wednesday night but many expressed their disapproval towards the owners. Everton fans can only hope their protest against the board won’t be ignored and that the board will take action.
STATS & ANALYSIS
It is unlikely that Everton can pick up any points against Arsenal in their fixture. Arsenal has been steadily improving their game over the past few months. It could be a difficult afternoon for Everton with key injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin and others keeping them from playing their best XI.
Arsenal will try to redeem themselves after their midweek loss. If he wants to beat Arteta’s Spanish counterpart, Benitez must either create a managerial miracle or pray for good fortune.
Arteta’s Arsenal side had already experienced their crisis at the start of the season. Things were looking up for them. They were defeated by Manchester United, which was a blow to their hopes of reaching the top four. Many would consider the loss disappointing. Arteta correctly pointed out that these are the games his team needs to win to reach their top-four goal at the end of the season.
Although the result was not what Arsenal wanted, the performance showed the progress they’ve made in the campaign and arguably earned them the United tie. Arsenal’s game management skills have improved, especially against lower-league sides.
The Gunners have rebounded strongly from their initial struggles. They lost only two of their eleven last games to Liverpool and Manchester United. Arsenal’s record against lower-ranked sides has been good, with Brentford’s defeat being their only shock loss.
While Arteta’s team is still struggling to overcome their long-standing big six’ woes, they appear to be on the right track and their recent form suggests that they could beat Everton. Arteta may have the chance to play with his starting XI in this game.
Buyako Saka’s midweek return to the matchday squad is a sign that he will most probably start on Monday. This could mean that Gabriel Martinelli’s spell with the team may be over. To accommodate Saka, the Spanish manager would need to drop Martinelli or Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang, but Aubamyang, the club’s current captain is unlikely to be dismissed despite his struggles at goal.
Team News Everton Dominic Calvert-Lewin won’t be able to play. Due to injuries suffered in the Merseyside Derby, Tom Davies and Salomon Ronaldo will most likely not be able to play in the tie. Mason Holgate is back from suspension.
Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes could also feature. Arsenal Bukayo Saka will likely return. After discomfort against Manchester United, Emile Smith Rowe is doubtful. Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac are both still unavailable. Kieran Tierney may return to the starting VIII.
Predicted Start XIs
Everton (4-4-1-1-1): Pickford and Coleman, Godfreys, Keanes, Digne’s, Townsends, Doucoures, Allan, Gordon Gray, Richarlison
Arsenal (4-2-3-1-1: Ramsdale and Tomiyasu; White, Gabriel, Tavares. Party, Lokonga Saka, Odegaard Smith Rowe, Aubameyang
Everton 1-3 Arsenal
Everton’s woes under Benitez are not showing any signs of improvement. With morale at an all-time low after the Liverpool defeat, it could be Benitez’s last game as Everton manager. Arteta will be looking to avenge the midweek disappointment and has the perfect opportunity against Everton.