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Everton v Arsenal
Goodison Park, Monday 6th December, kick off 8:00pm

by John Spillane

Former Toffee’s captain Mikel Arteta brings his team north to face Rafa Benitez’s strugglers in a battle between two sides lying in fifth and 14th place respectively at the start of the weekend.

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Having picked up seven points from the opening three games, Everton have since amassed just another eight points from the next 11. With six losses from the last seven games the home fans concerns are growing. Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to local rivals Liverpool further displayed the gulf between the neighbours and how far, despite the significant outlay on transfers in recent years, Everton have fallen behind. The continuing loss through injury of Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been significant. Having brought in Demari Gray and Andros Townsend to provide their number 9 with the service, the early signs pre-injury were encouraging, with Richarlison also prominent. Salomon Rondon has been unable to provide a similar cutting edge and is now also injured. In defence Yerry Mina has been a big loss and there will be a lot of pressure on Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield to gain control.

While Everton started the season well Arsenal lost their opening three games to Brentford, Manchester City and Chelsea to put Mikel Arteta’s role in the spotlight. Their recovery since had them lying just one point off fourth placed West Ham going into the weekend and the future is looking bright. The introduction of Aaron Ramsdale in goal has coincided with the team being less fragile at the back and conceding fewer goals. They have also introduced Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Nuno Tavares, but Kieran Tierney continues to struggle with fitness issues. In midfield Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe have continued their development, but they are still looking for captain Pierre Emerik-Aubameyang to regain the scoring touch of a few seasons back. Two defeats in the last two road trips, at Liverpool and Manchester United, conceding seven in the process will have dented confidence somewhat though.

With the pressure on, Everton’s need for points is greater and in a tight game they may just do enough to pick up their first league win since 25th September.

Suggested bet : Everton to win (27/10 at bet365)

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