Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
At the time of writing, this Saturday afternoon outing features two clubs who will probably have new managers in place by the time it kicks off – but haven’t yet. At lunchtime this may well be Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton lining up against Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side. However, neither new boss has been confirmed in post and, even if they are by Saturday morning, they will have had limited time to get any definitive message across to the players charged with enacting their vision.
Therefore, let’s assume that this will be Everton with a strong Duncan Ferguson flavour against Arsenal under Arteta via Fredrik Ljungberg. The former Spanish international will, in all likelihood, have had a Friday training session to assess and prepare his new charges – but it’s anyone’s guess what the results will be on the pitch, particularly for a lunchtime kick-off.
Everton vs Arsenal Prediction: Everton 2-2 Arsenal
Everton’s three matches under Ferguson have indicated that, despite their extended torpor under Marco Silva, there was a decent team in there all along. They’ve beaten Chelsea handily, been unfortunate to see a lead pegged back at Old Trafford, and then given Leicester a two-goal start in the Carabao Cup, pulled it back to 2-2, only to be knocked out on penalties. Against a team as chaotic as the present Arsenal side, this could well be a chance for Everton to swell their points total beyond the four in two games under Ferguson – but a creaky defensive line, in need of Ancelotti’s attention, may stop them getting all three.
Our recommended tip: Over 3.5 goals
There are so many reasons that this game promises thrills and spills – the pre-Christmas atmosphere, the early kick-off, the fact that even the players won’t really know what’s going on even 24 hours before game time. Add in to the mix the fact that Everton are missing a laundry list of players including an entire midfield’s worth of defensive midfielders, and Arsenal’s own injury crisis may result in them fielding Shkodran Mustafi, who has fitted into their defence like an anvil into a handbag, at centre-back. This all has a feel of “he who messes up least wins the prize”, and 888’s odds of 7.5 on this high total of goals scored feels very accurate.
The most recent meeting between these sides came in April of this year, before Marco SIlva and Unai Emery had displeased their employers to the point of sacking. At the time, Arsenal were involved – with Chelsea and Tottenham – in a three-way battle to see which of them could throw away the final Champions League place through sheer incompetence. As it proved, the Gunners’ lifeless display at Goodison would help them finally press the self-destruct button, a tenth-minute goal from Phil Jagielka being all that the Toffees needed to win them three points that would, in time, prove fairly worthless.
Top 3 Premier League Bookies
Players to watch: Dominic Calvert-Lewin & Alexandre Lacazette
Calvert-Lewin has for a few seasons now been a striker who rarely scores in an attack that often misfires – but his showing against Chelsea shows what he is capable of when a manager gives him licence to put himself about. A two-goal performance from the 22-year-old saw him get in the faces of defenders from the first minute to the last, much like a certain Duncan Ferguson used to. Given the same latitude against Arsenal’s rickety back four, he could do the same damage.
Lacazette has tumbled down the pecking order at Arsenal since Ljungberg took the hot seat, and should Arteta take the job ahead of this match the former Lyon man will be keen to grab the new boss’s attention. It’s down to the player to show he can exist in the same side as Gabonese goal machine Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and there have been signs that they can – but Lacazette could help Arteta make the decision by delivering the kind of performance of which Arsenal fans know him to be capable.