Everton vs Arsenal is an intriguing little contest. While the former have little of any real significance to play for, they come into the match on the back of winning two league games in a row for just the second time this season. As they dispensed with Chelsea and West Ham in those matches, could the Toffees make it a London treble here?
For Arsenal, a top four finish looks a distinct possibility; indeed, the bookies have them behind Tottenham but ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United. Since their last league defeat, the Gunners have won five and drawn one. They’ve also completed all 10 of their games against other teams in the top six.
Things are looking rosy, though five of their last seven games are away from home. Arsenal’s April also includes trips to Leicester, Watford and Wolves, so a win here would be most welcome for Unai Emery. He may need to rotate later in the month thanks to European commitments.
The Gunners won the corresponding fixture 2-0, but it was not as clear-cut a victory as that sounds. Everton lead total shots, shots on target and big chances, each by one, and missed one of their two golden opportunities while it was 0-0. As our shot quality chart for the match illustrates, the home side dominated the ball but it didn’t enable them to generate a greater attacking threat than the Toffees posed them that day.
This hasn’t been a unique scenario for Everton this season either. The expected goal difference in the Arsenal match was just 0.05, and in their favour, to go with matches against Southampton (-0.04), Leicester (0.03) and Manchester City (-0.01) which have all been essentially equal on shot value.
Marco Silva’s side may have lost the two games against the big six sides mentioned here, but the underlying statistics suggest they might easily have taken something from the matches.
However, with an eye on Sunday’s game, it should be noted that both of those matches were away from Goodison Park. On home turf, the only game against a top six side where Everton have dominated the underlying numbers was in their 2-0 win against Chelsea. Even then, just as the Toffees missed a clear-cut chance at the Emirates when it was 0-0, so Maurizio Sarri’s team did in that match.
According to our algorithm, the man to watch here should be Alexandre Lacazette. He has been by far the top performing player from either team over the past six match weeks. Can Everton’s top man from this period – Idrissa Gueye – help the Toffees’ back line keep him under wraps?
The xG stats predict that this game will end in a 1-1 draw. History suggests a close game has often occurred when the Blues have faced one of the big boys this season. Expect a close match here.