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Arsenal v Everton
Sunday, September 23rd, Emirates Stadium, kick off 4.00pm

by John Spillane

After five games two sides, with high expectations, come together with both still trying to adjust to the demands of their new management teams. Unai Emery and Marco Silva, stepping into the shoes of Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce, have the task of getting the fans back on side after disappointing seasons. Both will know that in today’s cutthroat world they will be only given a short amount of time before the fans again become restless and demand change.

Having started with two straight defeats; Manchester City (H) 0-2 and Chelsea (A) 2-3, Arsenal thanks to an easier schedule since have picked up nine points out of nine, thanks to consecutive victories over West Ham, Cardiff and Newcastle, scoring eight goals and conceding four. Just as they could be considered to be unfortunate to get nothing from the defeats (especially against Chelsea) the victories have not been straight forward. There are obvious weaknesses in defence, some confusion over who should play in midfield and the front pairing has yet to gel so far.

Emery’s preference for a passing game has seen goal keeper Petr Cech and his defensive colleagues suffer some embarrassing moments when faced with the ball at their feet. It seems strange that Bernd Leno, the £19.2m summer signing from Germany, who would be more comfortable with this style of play, has yet to feature. The current central pairing of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis hasn’t looked convincing to date and Laurent Koscielny’s return from injury can’t come too soon. In midfield Lucas Torreira has yet to be given a start, but whenever introduced adds a touch of authority. Upfront Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who settled in quickly last season, following his arrival from Dortmund, is now operating from the left, with Alexandre Lacazette in the central role. As a result his goal return has dropped. Oddly Arsenal’s 10 league goals have been shared between 10 different scorers.

Marco Silva, after short spells at Hull City and Watford, is now in in his third coaching position in England. Despite getting off to good starts at both previous clubs the roles for different reasons didn’t last very long, with Hull relegated and Watford terminating his role when they became concerned regarding his supposed interest in the Everton job. The team who were unbeaten after four games this season, currently lie 10th, with a record of W1, D3, L1. Last Sunday they seemed to self destruct at home to West Ham. Irrationally throwing caution to the wind from the first whistle, they got caught on the break twice in the first 45 minutes and were 2-0 down before Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled a goal back just before the break. With so much money invested in the team over the last 18 months, following the departure of Romelu Lukaku it seems strange that they are still looking to Cenk Tosun or Oumar Niasse as the main striker.

The poor return from the central strikers has put more onus on goals coming from other areas. Richarlisson (three goals in three games and available after suspension), Theo Walcott (108 goals for Arsenal), and Sigurdsson are those most likely to chip in. The recent signings of full back Lucas Digne, midfielder Bernard and centre half Yerry Mina may work out in the long run, but all three may initially take time to adjust to the frenetic nature of the Premier League. Defensively there appears to be little cohesion so far, despite the individual talent available, and Jordan Pickford could be in for a busy afternoon.

Last season’s two fixtures saw a total of 13 goals, with Arsenal winning both (A) 5-2 and (H) 5-1 and with both sides suspect defensively a high scoring game could once more be in the offing.

Suggested bet : Arsenal to win and both teams to score (available at 6-4)

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