PREVIEW | Everton vs Arsenal

Evertonians are still reeling following last Wednesday’s derby demolition. Liverpool ran away with the game, going 0-2 up inside twenty minutes which prompted some Everton fans to leave Goodison Park. Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah x2 and Diogo Jota got the goals as Jürgen Klopp’s men ran out 1-4 winners. It was Everton’s heaviest home derby defeat since 1982.

Not even a week after the mauling, the Blues are back in action tomorrow evening against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. Rafa Benitez’s side were shockingly poor against their rivals and were comprehensively beaten.

There were not many Evertonians left inside the ground at full-time, with the ones that stayed invading the pitch to confront the players, chanting ‘sack the board’ and having confrontations with board members – Marcel Brands being the main example. He has now rumoured to have left the club.

Away from all the drama at Everton, Arsenal have had a mini resurgence following the 5-0 battering by Manchester City on 28th August. They went on a ten-game unbeaten run in all competitions, which included a 3-1 victory over Tottenham and a 1-2 away win at Leicester City.

However last time out they were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United, in Michael Carrick’s last game as caretaker manager before Ralf Rangnick took charge. Despite having more shots and more possession than their opponents, they could not make it count as they fell to their second defeat in three games.

Everton are still without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was sorely missed against Liverpool. He is still set to be side-lined for a number of weeks. Under-fire boss Rafa Benitez has said that both Salomón Rondón and defender Yerry Mina will be assessed before the fixture. Mina, who has missed the Blues’ last six games with a thigh injury, will be a big boost if available as he is arguably Everton’s best defender.

Mason Holgate has served his three-match suspension so is back in contention, whilst Wednesday also saw the return of Cenk Tosun after a lengthy lay-off.

Mikel Arteta has no new injury concerns heading into Monday night’s fixture. Granit Xhaka and Kolašinac are both still out with knee and ankle injuries respectively, and Bernd Leno faces a late fitness test.

One to Watch – Everton

Demarai Gray is Everton’s leading scorer in the Premier League this season with four goals following his strike against Liverpool. Gray has arguably been Everton’s best player through this barren run and finds himself unlucky to not have more goal involvements to his name.

The 25-year-old has six goal involvements in thirteen games, resulting in an average rating of 6.93 in the Premier League according to WhoScored. His strengths include dribbling and crossing meaning that Takehiro Tomiyasu, who is most likely to be at right-back for the Gunners tomorrow, will be up against it tomorrow.

However, the former Leicester City winger does have weaknesses, which includes his aerial ability. This was shown against Liverpool, as when Everton looked devoid of ideas, they lumped the ball up hoping that players like Gray could make something of the situation. If Arsenal press in the same manner, then they will isolate Gray altogether.

One to Watch – Arsenal

Emile Smith-Rowe has been in scintillating form for the Gunners this season. The newly capped England international has five goals in the Premier League this season and has been a key part of Arsenal’s resurgence.

The 21-year-old has an average rating of 7.04 in the league so far, and he will be looking to continue his good form against the Toffees tomorrow. His strengths include his dribbling, hold-up play and finishing, all which have been showcased in recent weeks.

Yet the former Huddersfield Town loanee does have weaknesses, including his aerial duels and his defensive contribution. This is something that Everton have not targeted this season, but preying on individuals such as Smith-Rowe could be key to them getting something from the game.

The Toffees did the double over the North London side last year, with a 2-1 victory at Goodison and a 0-1 win at the Emirates – the first time since the 1985/86 season.

However, Everton come into tomorrow’s fixture on the back of an eight-game winless run – their last victory was against Norwich over two months ago. The Merseyside club sit sixteenth in the league after draws for Southampton and Leeds moved them ahead of the Blues.

Arsenal on the other hand sit seventh in the Premier League and are back in European contention following a poor start to the season. A win would lift them up to fifth, ahead of their North London rivals.

Monday’s game will also see a planned protest from some Everton supporters on the 27th minute. The protest is against the Blues’ board, which has already seen a change since Wednesday with the much reported, though not confirmed, departure of Director of Football Marcel Brands.

Fans partaking in the protest will leave their seats on the 27th minute, representing Everton’s twenty-seven-year trophy drought. Some fans have vowed not to return to their seats in a defiant act.

The fixture sees an Everton side in much need of a win to avoid slipping further down the table, whilst Arsenal hope to cement their position in the European places.

The atmosphere tomorrow will be very interesting, as will the team’s response to it. However, given recent form, it is hard to see how the Blues will get anything out of the fixture.

Prediction: 0-2.

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