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It seems fitting that Everton and Arsenal are locking horns this weekend, as it’s a year to the weekend since they played out one of the worst televised matches anyone can remember. It made behind closed doors matches between clearly knackered squads of players look like high octane daredevilry of the highest order.
Their 0-0 draw was so low on entertainment it could’ve filled in for Mrs Brown’s Boys last Christmas. There were only six matches in the Premier League last season which featured fewer shots, and just one with fewer shots on target. “S**t on a stick”, as Jorge Valdano would describe it.
But as dull as it undoubtedly was, it also marked a pertinent staging post for both clubs as their current managers took charge of them for the first time in their following matches on Boxing Day. Arsenal drew 1-1 at Bournemouth, while Everton beat Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park – so there wasn’t an abundance of excitement there either.
Saturday 17:30 – Everton v Arsenal
Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League
In the 33 league matches under the respective guidance of Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta, the Blues have won 15 times while The Gunners have triumphed on 13 occasions. Arsenal appeared to have got their house in order more quickly at first, but The Toffees have certainly been the better side in 2020/21.
It’s just as well Arteta’s boys won three of their first four matches this season, as they’ve been in the bottom three for the nine-game period since. What chance of them picking up a vital win in this match? Their six-game form has been better on the road than at the Emirates – though that’s nothing to crow about – so they might have a chance.
However, Everton have a good record in matches like these. If it’s not too much of a stretch to consider Arsenal one of the big six clubs these days, that is. Since the beginning of last season, The Toffees have hosted one of the traditional top teams nine times in the league, and have a record of two wins, five draws and only two defeats from those matches.
As Arsenal had the joint most stalemates in the Premier League last season, I’m inclined to think this could be another. After all, they drew with every side that finished between third and 12th in 2019/20 at least once, and Everton will be in that bracket at the end of this season. Whether Arsenal will be remains to be seen.
League games at Goodison Park in recent years have either been goal heavy or pretty dull, with very little in between. Since the start of 2018/19, there have been 15 teams who have been consistently in the Premier League. Of those, only three clubs have had fewer home matches than Everton which have featured over 2.5 goals, but only three have played more which contained at least four goals.
Although the last meeting of these sides was a 3-2 win for Arsenal, the previous three fixtures all had no more than two goals and at least one nil on the score sheet. As the Gunners’ last four away matches in the league have seen just four goals in total it’s hard not to predict another snooze-fest for this one.
But, Arsenal have been having chances despite struggling to score recently. They’ll be up against one of the worst goalkeepers in the Premier League in Jordon Pickford if his understudy Robin Olsen doesn’t take this place again, so they should find the net at some point.
When considering a goalscorer bet for this match, there is one simple fact which overrides all others: Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored as many league goals as Arsenal have this season. He’s responsible for roughly half of Everton’s too, and has at least eight more goals than any player from either club.
I could look up all manner of obscure and scientific statistics for the men involved in this match – hell, it’d be an early Christmas present for me – but nothing can supersede the raw facts of the matter. If you want better value, Richarlison and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both scored in midweek, so could be about to return to form. But I’ll be adding DCL to my Bet Builder.
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