Everton will host Arsenal at Goodison Park on Sunday, April 6 (1:30 PM GMT), in a key match in the fight for a place in next season’s Champions League. The Toffees are getting closer to Arsenal’s fourth position -the last one that qualifies for UCL- and the result of this game could be decisive for both teams.
Everton is at the fifth spot, four points behind the Gunners<; font-size: 1rem;">, but they’ve got a postponed match against Crystal Palace, which will be played on April 16 at Goodison Park. If they defeat Arsenal, they’ll have a good opportunity to climb to the fourth position.
The Toffees are in a great moment after winning five games in a row in the Premier League (their last defeat was on February 9 against Tottenham). However, they lost one match on March 8 in the FA Cup quarterfinals, and Arsenal was the team that beat them, 4-1 at Emirates Stadium.
Everton have many injured players that won’t play on Sunday. Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg) and Lacina Traore (hamstring) are definitely out due to long-term injuries, while captain Phil Jagielka (hamstring) is highly unlikely to play.
Manager Roberto Martínez will wait for the 20-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley, who left the pitch at halftime of the last match -a 3-1 victory over Fulham on the road- with a calf injury.
Martinez spoke to the press about the Toffees moment and Sunday game: “What excites us is having five straight wins. It’s a reward for our hard work. For our history here, we should always aim high. We know it’ll be a fantastic occasion against Arsenal.” [Source]
On the other hand, Arsenal tied their last match, against Manchester City at Emirates Stadium. Before that game, they were humiliated by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, in a match that they lost by 6-0.
With six games to be played, they’re seven points behind the leader Liverpool, and the Reds’performance is much better than the Gunners’ one, so they’re almost out of the fight for the title. However, they definitely want a place in the next Champions League, so they want a victory over Everton in order to leave them seven points behind.
Arsenal is still on the fight for the FA Cup, in which they’ll play the semifinals against Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium next Saturday, April 12, so they may be thinking in that competition besides the Premier League.
Like the Everton Manager, the Gunners boss Arsène Wenger is having a bit of trouble due to the injuries. In defense, center back Laurent Koscielny (calf) is out and left back Kieran Gibbs (ankle) is in doubt. Fortunately, Nacho Monreal is back from his foot problem and he’ll surely replace Gibbs.
In the midfield, Mesut Özil (hamstring) is out for this game and also for the next FA Cup clash against Wigan. Besides, Serge Gnabry (knee) is also out, as Jack Wilshere (foot) and Theo Walcott (knee), both with long-term injuries. The good news is that Aaron Ramsey is back from his three-month thigh injury and will be available for this game.
In the pre-match press conference the manager Arsène Wenger said: “It’s an opportunity to go forward and as well an opportunity to make a distance with Everton. As I told you after the last game against Manchester City, we look in front of us and behind us as well. That’s what the game is about on Sunday.” [Source]
Last matches between Gunners and Toffees: Arsenal great streak
– Arsenal hasn’t lost against Everton in the last 14 matches, with 9 victories and 5 draws.
– This season they have played twice, both at time at the Emirates Stadium. In the Premier League it was a 1-1 tie on December 8. Three months later, Arsenal defeated Everton 4-1 in FA Cup quarterfinals.
– The last win of the Toffees was in the Premier League, 1-0 at Goodison Park in March 2007, more than seven years ago.
I think this will be a very tough match for both teams, since they’re direct opponents in the fight for a place in the next Champions League and both teams want to win this match more than any other game in the Premier League.
Everton is in a great moment after winning five games in a row, and in my opinion, they’ll win the match despite the fact that they lost 4-1 recently against the Gunners in the FA Cup. I think that in that match, Arsenal was not as better as the result leads one to think, and in I believe that things will be different at Goodison Park and the Toffees will take revenge on the Gunners and finish with their bad results against them in the latest years. My prediction is an Everton victory by 3-1.
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