Preview by Numbers: Everton v. Arsenal

Goodison Park, Liverpool
Sunday, April 6
8:30 a.m. EDT, 13:30 BST

  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Martin Atkinson
    • Assistants: Peter Kirkup and David Bryan
    • 4th Official: Mike Jones
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 1 - 1 Everton
  • This Match, Last Year: Everton 1 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 99 Arsenal wins, 58 Everton wins, 44 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-L-W-L-D-D
  • Everton's League Form: L-W-W-W-W-W
  • Weather: Scattered Light Rain, 13 C / 55 F
It's the final countdown! Da na-na-nnaaaaaaa, da-na-na-na-naaaa!


Sorry about that. The point I'm trying to make is that the season is almost over. Over the past two months, Arsenal have slowly but surely slipped from first place to fourth; that makes this match against Everton, currently breathing down Arsenal's neck from fifth place, critical. Everton are four points back with a game in the hand. As I'll reiterate later in this preview, if Everton win, they control the keys to fourth place. If the Toffees win out, they will finish no worse than fourth. Arsenal do have a more favorable fixture list down the stretch, but no match is a guarantee.

That's why, for European qualification, this is the big one. A result is a necessity.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Koscielny (calf,) Ozil (hamstring,) Wilshere (foot,) Walcott (knee,) Ryo (ankle,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Monreal (foot,) Ramsey (thigh)

OMG REMEMBER AARON RAMSEY?!? He's "in the squad" again! That probably doesn't mean starting, in fact, it almost certainly just means he'll just be an option from the bench. But, but, but... Ramsey! In addition to that big news, Nacho Monreal, who quietly disappeared with a foot injury a few weeks ago, is also back in the squad.

As for the absentees, Abou Diaby is back running again, which is certainly progress for him. Laurent Koscielny is not available for Sunday, but could be back next week or the one after. Mesut Ozil will not be available for the FA Cup Semi-Final next weekend. Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere is "progressing well," while Theo Walcott and Ryo Miyaichi remain out for the season.

In terms of the starting XI, I honestly am not sure what changes I would make from last week's starters. The back, through injuries, picks itself. With Ramsey not yet ready to start, the holding midfielders would retain their place. Generally speaking, Tomas Rosicky is always a good bargain to start the big games.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

Everton Squad News

Out: Pienaar (knee,) Oviedo (leg,) Gibson (knee,) Kone (knee,) Traore (hamstring)
Doubts: Barkley (calf,) Jagielka (hamstring)

Phil Jagielka, out since late February with a hamstring injury, is in line for a return soon; however, his replacement, 19-year-old John Stones, has performed admirable in Jagielka's absence. Elsewhere in the "doubt" category is midfielder Ross Barkley, removed at halftime from last week's 3-1 win over Fulham with a calf injury.

In terms of Everton's long term injuries, not much has changed there since Arsenal played Everton about a month ago: Lacina Traore has not played since mid-February with a hamstring injury, while it'll be early May at best for Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson, both out with knee injuries. Bryan Oviedo's season is over, after suffering a double leg fracture against Stevenage in the FA Cup fourth round. Steven Pienaar has been out since the FA Cup loss to Arsenal with knee cartilage damage.

Predicted XI: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Osman, Naismith, Lukaku.

Current Form

Arsenal are winless in their last three league matches for the second time this season, the first stretch coming in December, which included draws against Everton and Chelsea and the loss to Manchester City. The Gunners have only won twice in their last six league fixtures, leaving them 10th in the league's form table.

Everton's form is currently second best in the Premier League (only Liverpool, winners of six straight, rank higher on the form table,) as they have won five straight matches, though their FA Cup loss to Arsenal did come after their league winning run had started. While their five wins have come against the likes of West Ham, Cardiff, Swansea, Newcastle, and Fulham, they have still done an excellent job keeping the pressure on Arsenal for fourth place (Everton were seventh after losing to Chelsea on February 22.) 

Everton are four points behind Arsenal with a game in hand, meaning an Everton win on Sunday would mean the Toffees would control their own destiny to finish fourth. The Toffees do still have this match, a home game against Manchester City, and a trip to Southampton on their list of tricky remaining fixtures, while Arsenal will play West Ham, Hull, Newcastle, West Brom, and Norwich.

Match Facts

Arsenal have played Everton twice this season at the Emirates, drawing the league encounter 1-1 in December and winning the FA Cup tie 4-1 about a month ago. Arsenal led through Mesut Ozil late in the league match, but four minutes later, the Toffees equalized to split the points. Arsenal led early in the FA Cup tie, but again, Everton equalized. The Gunners went ahead through a Mikel Arteta penalty, which he had to take a second time after infringement, but Olivier Giroud scored twice from the bench to see Arsenal through to Wembley.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 14 against Everton; the Toffees last win over Arsenal came on March 18, 2007 by a 1-0 scoreline. The last three league meetings between the two sides have each ended level, including a 1-1 draw in this fixture last year (on my birthday) when Theo Walcott scored after 51 minutes, but Marouane Fellaini equalized on 28 minutes; Everton had 53% possession in the match and were the more dominant side over the 90.

The Referee

The referee is West Yorkshire-based Martin Atkinson. Arsenal have had Atkinson three times so far this season, for their 3-1 win over Sunderland, their 2-0 win over Liverpool, and their 6-3 loss to Manchester City. Atkinson has given a penalty to the home side in each of Arsenal's road matches with him as the referee this season; both were scored. On the other hand, Arsenal were lucky when Atkinson blew play dead for a foul on Bacary Sagna against Sunderland even though Jozy Altidore still scored on the play.

Everton have also had Atkinson three times this season, for their 2-1 League Cup loss to Fulham, their 1-0 win at Manchester United, and their 4-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield. Everton supporters appear to feel aggrieved by the appointment, as they feel Atkinson has called a number of controversial events against them; zero wins from three against rival Liverpool will do that, though.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Manchester City v. Southampton; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Fulham; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Cardiff City v. Crystal Palace; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
  • Saturday: Hull City v. Swansea City; KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. Manchester United; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: Norwich City v. West Bromwich Albion; Carrow Road, Norwich
  • Saturday (late): Chelsea v. Stoke City; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Sunday (late): West Ham United v. Liverpool; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Monday (night): Tottenham Hotspur v. Sunderland; White Hart Lane, London