One of the more surprising statistics in a season full of surprises is that the team with the most goals per game so far is not one of the title contenders but an Everton side that are sitting in mid-table. Roberto Martinez’s side have thrilled and frustrated in equal measures but too often they’ve been guilty of naïve defending and throwing away winning positions, while on several other occasions they’ve wasted chances as dominant performances have resulted in draws.
These problems have been less obvious on the road, where their only defeat came at Arsenal earlier in the campaign, but at home they have proven particularly vulnerable. However, the quality they possess means they have the potential to beat any team in the league and they showed that last weekend as they moved past Chelsea into the semi-finals of the FA Cup. That must now be their priority but the semis aren’t for another five weeks, so for now they should be fully committed to improving their league form. You have to go down to 10th placed Chelsea to find the highest team they’ve beaten at Goodison this season in the league as their record against the top nine is a woeful W0-D2-L5.
However, these games have tended to be decided by small margins as they’ve scored in five of those seven and, home or away, they’ve not been beaten by more than one goal in their last 19 matches while failing to score just twice.
While Everton’s confidence shouldn’t be unduly affected by their league form given their excellent cup win last weekend it is hard to believe that Arsenal’s players are not struggling with their self belief. They’ve won just two of their last nine league games – neither of which were particularly impressive performances against Leicester and Bournemouth – and that has been compounded by disappointing efforts in both the FA Cup and Champions League. They’ll certainly know to expect a tough trip here having not won this fixture in any of the past three seasons. Last term was a familiar feeling for Everton fans as they settled for a draw having led 2-0 with less than 10 minutes to go but the year before they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
While we’ve mentioned the Toffees poor home record against the top half Arsenal’s away stats aren’t much better. They’ve won six of seven trips to the current bottom eight this term (W6-D1-L0) but have otherwise gone W1-D3-L4 as they’ve conceded 18 times in these eight matches with Stoke the only side not to score at least twice against them.
There is some good news for the Gunners with Gareth Barry suspended after stupidly sent off last weekend, and in the only nine matches he’s failed to start since joining Everton (101 games ago) they’ve managed just one clean sheet. Unfortunately for the away side they’ve also scored at least twice in the last eight of these games as all nine have had at least three goals.
Arsenal look very hard to back here and we’d expect Everton to pose them plenty of problems. A few Gunners could also be starting to think about their summer plans and maybe saving themselves for the Euros, while injuries have also played their part in the current slide. Cech, Wilshere and Cazorla may return next month but it is the Spaniard who seems most missed. Cazorla has been out of the starting XI in eight away games since the start of last season and Arsenal’s only wins have come at Villa and Bournemouth as they’ve conceded 14 times in the other six matches, and it’s probably no coincidence that Mesut Ozil’s form has also dropped off in his absence.
As a result we’d side with the Toffees and Everton to Win with Both Teams to Score is tempting at 4.6 while Over 3.5 Goals is worth a punt at 2.88. However, Everton’s lack of killer instinct means we’ll settle for the Draw No Bet.
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