Preview by Numbers: Everton v. Arsenal

Goodison Park, Liverpool
Saturday, March 19
8:45 a.m. EDT, 12:45 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mark Clattenburg
    • Assistants: Simon Beck and Richard West
    • 4th Official: Jonathan Moss
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 2 - 1 Everton
  • This Match, Last Year: Everton 2 - 2 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 101 Arsenal wins, 59 Everton wins, 45 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-W-W-L-L-D
  • Everton's League Form: L-W-W-L-W-L
It's been a long time since English clubs
consistently advanced to the last eight. Anyone that
tells you this is an Arsenal failing is obfuscating
the truth to enhance their argument.
Welp, another year goes by where Arsenal proves it's in the top 16 in the world but not the top eight. This is a team that is consistently good enough to qualify for a level where they lose to a better team over 180 minutes.

You can say it's a failing of Arsenal that they haven't advanced to the quarterfinals since 2010 and you wouldn't be wrong, but it's not like the rest of the English clubs have been barnstorming their way through this tournament either, aside from that 2012 Chelsea team that, mind you, finished sixth in the league at the same time. Personally, I'd argue that it's getting harder and harder for English teams to compete on both fronts.

Check out this awesome chart I made. Over the last five seasons (including this year), an average of 0.75 English clubs per year advance to the Champions League quarterfinals. But yeah, this is Arsenal's failure.

But enough about that. With Arsenal out of Europe and out of the FA Cup, there's only the league left to focus on, which isn't the worst thing in the world. Arsenal have nine games left to play and pretty much have to win all of them if they want to end this season with silverware.

Since Arsenal progressed deeper into the FA Cup than Leicester, Spurs and Manchester City, the Gunners will hold a game in hand on their title/"fourth place is a trophy" rivals from now until they make up the game with West Bromwich Albion on April 21. Still, it doesn't make for very pleasant reading when you see that Arsenal are 11 points out of first place. I mean, they had a better shot at winning the league at this point last season...

The stats say that Arsenal's odds of winning the league are down to a paltry 1.6%. If they win all of the remaining games, those odds improve only as far as 74.3%. So, to put it simply, they have to start winning again, they have to continue winning, and they need some help.

If they can get all three points at Everton (not an easy task on a Saturday afternoon after playing in Barcelona on Wednesday night,) then we'll talk more about the run-in. If they lose, then we have to start looking at the (currently) 23% chance they fall out of the top four entirely... And I really don't want to have to write that piece.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Flamini (hamstring,) Ramsey (thigh,) Cech (calf,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Rosicky (thigh,) Cazorla (knee,) Wilshere (ankle)

A weird night for Mathieu Flamini.
Well, I guess it wasn't that weird...
Mathieu Flamini's inclusion in the starting XI on Wednesday night was as surprising as it was horrifying. He picked up a yellow card for his troubles and then came out before halftime with a hamstring problem, so you know, usual Flamini. With Aaron Ramsey still out, expect to see the Francis Coquelin / Mohamed Elneny axis continue for a while. Elneny finally found his shooting boots at Camp Nou (after 730 misses against Watford last weekend,) so hopefully he keeps those on.

There will be many who hope that Arsenal retains the same forward quartet that started on Wednesday as well, as the combination of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Iwobi, and Danny Welbeck all combined well together. The only other names you can throw in there, in the name of rotation, would be the struggling Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.

Kieran Gibbs has been starting in place of Nacho Monreal quite a bit at left back lately, so I'm not sure what the deal is going to be there. I'd drop Gabriel for Per Mertesacker and keep the rest of the back line intact. Elsewhere, Petr Cech is still out with his calf problem, but should be back after the international break.

Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck.

Everton Squad News

Out: Hibbert (knee,) Browning (knee)
Doubts: Oviedo (illness)
Suspended: Barry (first of two, two yellows / second suspension,) Mirallas (second of two, two yellows / second suspension)

A loving embrace.
In the FA Cup last weekend, Diego Costa was sent off for a second yellow card when he had a dust-up with Gareth Barry; Barry was also booked in the exchanges. Hilarious, of course, because we all hate Diego Costa. But then, moments later, Gareth Barry stuck a leg out to trip Cesc Fabregas and found himself sent off for another yellow. Also hilarious, because we all hate Fabregas too and I suppose it's funny to see him fall down, but mostly because Barry, in a matter of moments, managed to get himself suspended for this fixture.

Which isn't to say Everton aren't going to be dangerous, because they've still got Romelu Lukaku up top. Of course, Lukaku playing against the club that let him go is always going to provide a more emotional response than another opponent, and he picked up a brace in the process.

With Barry out, Muhamed Besic is most likely to come in to the center of midfield, playing deep alongside James McCarthy. Other than that, it's hard to see Roberto Martinez changing his XI too much from the one that beat Chelsea last weekend, and that might include keeping John Stones on the bench.

Bryan Oviedo is a doubt through illness, while Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning are both out long-term with knee injuries. Kevin Mirallas, like Barry, is suspended after he was sent off two weeks ago against West Ham. Like Barry, Mirallas is serving a two match ban because it was his second red card of the season.

Predicted XI: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Besic, McCarthy, Lennon, Cleverley, Barkley, Lukaku.

Current Form

Arsenal will hope to contain Lukaku better than they
contained Messi.
Since Danny Welbeck's late winner against Leicester City, Arsenal have won once in eight matches. Five of those other seven have been losses, with the draws coming only against Hull (necessitating the FA Cup replay that represents Arsenal's only win in the bunch) and Spurs (you're welcome, Leicester.) There's not much more to be said about this form that hasn't been said already; it's Arsenal's worst run since 2011, when they forgot how to play the sport after losing the League Cup Final to Birmingham City.

Everton, on the other hand, have won six of their last eight and have advanced to the FA Cup semi-final, where they will face either Manchester United or West Ham United. So, three of those six wins in Everton's positive run have been cup ties, meaning they've won three of their last five league games. Those wins have come against Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Stoke (two of which aren't really saying much, but winning 3-0 at the Britannia is something I envy a bit.) Both of their losses came at home, 1-0 to West Brom and 3-2 to West Ham. So clearly, if Arsenal just change their name to West Arsenal for a few hours, they can come away from Goodison with a one goal win!

Match Facts

Arsenal scored twice in quick succession through the pouring
rain in the reverse fixture.
Arsenal won the reverse fixture 2-1 back in October in a match that also came after Arsenal played a midweek European fixture; it came four days after Arsenal's 2-0 win over Bayern Munich. Arsenal took a 2-0 lead against the Toffees in quick succession, as Olivier Giroud scored in the 36th minute and Laurent Koscielny scored in the 38th. It wasn't comfortable, though, as Ross Barkley pulled a goal back in the 44th minute and Arsenal's legs got a bit heavy in the second half.

In this match last season, Arsenal trailed 2-0 through 83 minutes, as Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith scored first half goals. In the 83rd, Aaron Ramsey pulled one back and seven minutes later, just before the end of regular time, Olivier Giroud pulled Arsenal level. In added time, unfortunately, Giroud broke his leg blocking a clearance and would go on to miss three months; the injury forced Arsenal to move in the transfer window and if it hadn't happened, Arsenal likely would not have purchased Danny Welbeck.

An Arsenal win would give them a league double over Everton for the season; there are already 10 teams in the league which Arsenal have failed to complete a double over, including those Arsenal already dropped points to in the first half of the season. They have only picked up all six points, so far, against Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Leicester.

Arsenal also beat Everton in the preseason, 3-1, to win the Asia Cup, something I completely forgot about until I found out that that was when Tony Hibbert hurt his knee.

The Referee

Here's Dirk Kuyt's "kung fu lunge" that brought only a yellow.
The referee is County Durham-based Mark Clattenburg. Arsenal have a historically good record with Clattenburg, but are 0 for 2 in matches with Clatts this season. In November, Clattenburg was the man in the middle for Arsenal's 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion, though, to be fair, he did give Arsenal a late borderline penalty, which Santi Cazorla proceeded to miss. In January, Clattenburg took charge of the Arsenal loss to Chelsea in which Per Mertesacker was sent off on 18 minutes, though, to be fair, that was a stupid challenge.

On the other hand, Everton hate Clattenburg, after a Merseyside derby in 2007. Every critical decision went against the Toffees that day. First, Tony Hibbert was sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, though it appeared Clattenburg only pulled out the red card after Steven Gerrard remonstrated with him. Everton ended the match with nine men after Phil Neville was sent off for handling a goal bound shot in the 92nd minute. Liverpool won the match 2-1, through two penalties scored through the aforementioned fouls, though Everton were denied a penalty shout of their own just before the 90th minute, when Jamie Carragher wrestled Joleon Lescott to the ground. Dirk Kuyt was also shown only yellow for a "kung fu style lunge" on Neville earlier in the match. Clattenburg did not work another Everton match until a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in January 2012.

Everton's only match with Clattenburg this season was a 4-3 loss to Stoke City, at home, on December 28.

Around the League
  • Saturday: Chelsea v. West Ham United; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. Leicester City; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Watford v. Stoke City; Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Norwich City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Saturday (late): Swansea City v. Aston Villa; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Sunday (early): Newcastle United v. Sunderland; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Sunday (early): Southampton v. Liverpool; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Sunday (late): Manchester City v. Manchester United; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Sunday (late): Tottenham Hotspur v. Bournemouth; White Hart Lane, London
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and still travels with fans by boat. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to yell at him about getting some new jokes.