The most significant unimportant points (01/03/23) – Everton game preview
It’s a cliché that all victories worth the same 3 points and all points count the same, but I feel that today we have a vital game to win. Not simply for the cementing our lead on the top of the table, but to show that our shocking defeat 3 and a half weeks ago was merely a statistical outlier, and we are back in business big time.
In today’s preview, I try to organize all relevant information ahead of the early afternoon clash at the Emirates after our surprise defeat at Goodison Park, whether they support our 19th victory of the season or they challenge it. Albeit not all arguments should have equal weight, I hope the sheer surplus of PRO arguments should be a promising sign before the game. Let’s get going!
Signs that Arsenal will WIN the game today:
- PL TABLE: Arsenal sits on the top, and Everton is the 18th (with the same points as Bournemouth below them, but a much better goal difference).
- LEAGUE POINTS: we have accumulated 57 points in 24 games, while they collected only 21. That is almost 3x the efficiency (ppg) on our side.
- HISTORY: Arsenal have won 8 of the last 9 home matches against Everton, including our Pre-season friendly in Baltimore.
- INJURIES: with Nelson and Smith-Rowe back in training we are without the services of Jesus and Elneny – which Arsenal are quite accustomed to – while Everton will most likely miss Calvert-Lewin, Townsend, Gardner and Patterson. Partey is available again, as we saw him again against Leicester.
- PL FORM: Arsenal won 9 of our last 13 league games (D2, L2), while Everton lost 8 of their last 12 games (W2, D2) – surprisingly drawing against Manchester City at the Etihad on New Year’s Eve and beating us 25 days ago.
- SQUAD VALUE: due to the recent run of games and smart investments Arsenal player worth is €803M (according to TransferMarkt), while Everton worth is only €368M, despite having 2 more players in their squad, making us 2.2x more valuable.
- TRANSFER WINDOW: Arsenal managed to reinforce the team spending 60M on 3 players, two of them have already proved their fee (worth about 75M combined), while Everton lost one of their best players and joint top-scorer Antony Gordon for a decent 40M, but without anybody coming in.
- FORMATION EXPERIENCE: Arsenal always plays in 4-2-3-1 (sometimes referred as 4-3-3, but I think Odegaard would easily qualify for a CAM), while Everton has tested 10 different formations this season.
- SMALL DEFENDERS: apart from the huge Yerry Mina, the other defenders are around 183-184, about 3-4 inches below the aerial threat of Saliba and Gabriel. Everton conceded the 2nd most goals from corners.
- DYCHE vs. ARSENAL: Sean lost 11 of his 16 games against Arsenal; his 0.56 point per match ratio is only superior to his 0.29 PPM vs Manchester City (and on level with Chelsea and Liverpool). We are simply too creative for him.
- JORGINHO: Partey did train with the rest of the team, but after his knock against City there is some chance that Arteta would keep resting him today, giving the opportunity to our latest signing to win the supporters and show Potter what he is missing for the lousy 12M. The Brazilo-Italian was my MotM twice in our last 3 games, so probably doesn’t need much more evidence, though.
- REFEREE Michael Oliver is a slimy w@nker, but we won all 3 PL games this season which he officiated, awarded 2 penalties for us, 1 against us, booking Arsenal players 3 times while the opponents got 9 yellow cards in these games. Everton’s statistics with Oliver is 3 points from 2 games, no penalties either way, 4 yellow cards collected as the opponents were booked 5 times.
- EXPERIENCE AGAINST BUS: Arteta’s Arsenal have struggled against ultra-defensive, bus-parking teams in the past, but this season we have a breakthrough, as both wingers (featuring Trossard), our AM Odegaard as well as striker Nketiah – who is not poaching Eddie any more – are equally dangerous and hard to mark.
- REVENGE: Our players will increase their already impressive efforts to show that our defeat at Goodison Park was a mere temporary slip, including the awful display. There are not many teams our boys have something to prove against, they did twice against Tottenham, they failed twice against City; as far as I’m concerned only this game is left, maybe our visit to Newcastle in May.
- EVERTON ON THE ROAD: they have only won once away from home in the Premier League this season (1:2 against bottom-feeding Southampton) all the way back in October, losing six and drawing the other four.
- STAMINA & BENCH: Everton scored their 6 of their 17 goals in the first half and conceded 14 of the 32 total, indicating a team being more active in the second half. That should suit us having a lot of hungry young players and an overall strong bench, especially if Arteta is willing to utilize it.
Signs that we may lose some point(s) against Everton:
- BLUEPRINT: the Toffees not only ended our 13-game unbeaten streak (W11, D2), but did so in style. We hardly had any chance and the single goal they scored is flattering us (xG: 2.09). They might know what tactics are effective against Arsenal, but at least they think they know.
- CURRENT HOME FORM: after our 7 wins out of 7 home games in 2022 we won only one in the next 4. While we are proud that the Emirates is a castle hard to capture, our recent results are a bit disappointing. (Actually, our away form is the deciding factor in the competition so far, as we have now picked up at least seven more points than any other team in the league away from home this season.)
- MOTIVATION AGAINST LEAGUE LEADERS: it is a known and common phenomenon that bottom clubs often outperform themselves against top teams to demonstrate the little difference in the Premier League. (This is less common in other leagues.) They did it once already.
- EVERTON vs ARSENAL: historically the Toffees have four wins in their last five clashes with Arsenal, which is one more than they had in their previous 26 matches against us. Maybe we are more predictable than we thought, or their physical style just doesn’t suit us…
- BOUNCE BACK EFFECT: Teams after the manager is sacked have a tendency to shine in their next game. My guess that’s the players both trying to impress the new coach and/or showing the fans that the previous run of poor forms was the fault of the previous manager, not theirs. Everton won 2 of their 4 games with Dyche already, but that effect should cease at some point.
- DYCHE vs. ARTETA: albeit the newly appointed manager was trashed by both Wenger (0 point in 7 games) and Emery (0 point in 3 games), against Arteta Sean had W2, D3, L1 in 6 games indicating a draw later today.
- IWOBI’s FORM: Despite Everton’s poor league performance, Arsenal academy graduate and former gunner Alex Iwobi is in a fine form. In all the 4 games under Dyche Alex was rated above 7, even though he was playing 2 different positions, and not the one perfected under Lampard.
The number of signs that we will win today is 15 (compared to the 6 counter-arguments), but there haven’t been more than 2 goals in an Everton-game since mid-January. So I predict a 2:0 home victory, and reiterate my hope that Eddie Nketiah will find his goal scoring ways.
I hope our title-aspiring campaign continues with a confident win over relegation-pressed Everton, while Manchester City might lose points hosting Newcastle on Saturday, and United when visiting Liverpool on Sunday. I appreciate and support the little teams, but let Goliath win this time.
By Peter Barany