This is a big game for both teams. Arsenal have their eyes firmly set on a place in the top four, while Everton will want to finish as the best of the rest beyond the big six, to give Marco Silva’s first season in charge an air of respectability.
The mid-week results have knocked Arsenal down from the third place they held after their 2-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night. However, they’re still the second favourites in the race for a top four finish, with Paddy offering just 4/9 that they make it.
A big part of that is the relative kindness of the Gunners’ run-in. They are the only team in the top six to have played all of their matches against the other teams within it. As they only won three of the 10 games, it’s probably just as well. But if Unai Emery has achieved anything this year, he’s restored Arsenal to their pre-2017/18 selves. Their general lack of wins against the big boys doesn’t matter in the race for fourth if they make mincemeat of the minnows, and they’ve got back to doing that this term.
Which is bad news for Everton, who have taken one win and two draws from their nine matches against the top six sides so far this season. They did win their last such match, against Chelsea recently, but then the bottom three teams in the table are the only ones not to pick up a win against a big six team in 2018/19.
While the Toffees have a wretched record at Arsenal, they occasionally get a good result on home turf. Only three teams in the Premier League have drawn more matches than Everton this season, with the Gunners only one stalemate further back. I’m going to sit on the fence for this one.
Best bet: Everton and Arsenal to draw @ 13/5.
It’s hard to predict how many goals we’re likely to see due to the unusual nature of both teams’ records. Goodison Park is mid-table in the Premier League for the number of goals per game it has witnessed this season. However, Everton’s 6-2 defeat to Spurs in December plays a huge part in that; of the six league games at the ground since, only one has seen more than two goals.
If you were going to predict a team to win an away game 5-1 but also lose one by the same score line, you’d probably go for Arsenal, wouldn’t you? And your luck would be in this season, as their win at Fulham and loss at Liverpool saw that outcome. Emery’s boys have also beaten Bournemouth at home by that score line, meaning half of the 5-1 results in the top flight this season have involved Arsenal.
As only one of the Gunners’ last four away league games against non-big six teams has featured more than two goals though, I’m going for a low scoring encounter here. The nerdy numbers are suggesting a 1-1 draw, and based on the odds Paddy agrees.
Everton have only scored six league goals against the big teams so far this season. One of those was a penalty and another was a rebound from a penalty, so it doesn’t make choosing a scorer particularly easy. Exclude the spot kick related goals, and the other four have been scored by four different players.
We can probably discount Three-O Walcott from the discussion. He may have scored against Spurs, but he only has two other league goals in 2018/19. That leaves Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin or Sigurdsson. I’m going for the Brazilian, and not just as he’s Everton’s favourite in the market. He scored against Chelsea in the last Goodison match against one of the top six, has two goals in his last three Toffees appearances, and is their joint-top scorer at home this season. Only five players in the division have scored more opening goals than he has too.
Best bet: Richarlison to score first at 11/2.
It’s a more simple choice for Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is joint-sixth in the Premier League for away goals this season, and only Jamie Vardy has score more last goals than he has. If Richarlison scores first, Auba equalises and that’s your lot, we’re laughing.
Best bet: Aubemayang to score last at 4/1.