Digne clears a sublime crossfield go out to Richarlison on the right. Where’s Kolasinac gone? Goodness, it doesn’t mind. Richarlison cuts the ball down, yet he’s closed off by Monreal. The move closes with Gomes lashing over from 25 yards. Everton are truly up for this
16 min: Mkhitaryan and Kolasinac probe down the left and end up winning a corner for Arsenal, Jagielka conceding it.
15 min: Digne sweeps a magnificent crossfield pass out to Richarlison on the right. Where’s Kolasinac gone? Oh, never mind. Richarlison brings the ball down, but he’s blocked off by Monreal. The move ends with Gomes lashing over from 25 yards. Everton are really up for this.
12 min: This is going to be a big test for Arsenal, whose away form doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in their ability to turn this around. That said, they also conceded first in this fixture last season. Final score: Everton 2-6 Arsenal.
This is such a mess. Lucas Digne, the French Rory Delap, lobs a dangerous long throw into the Arsenal throw from the left. Arsenal react in classic Arsenal style. The ball’s flicked on into the middle. Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin make a nuisance of themselves and the ball drops to Jagielka, six yards out. He wasn’t even supposed to be starting. But he helps himself to a rare goal here, slamming past Leno from close range!
GOAL! Everton 1-0 Arsenal (Jagielka, 10 min)
The veteran gives Everton the lead!
9 min: Lacazette is also moving more freely now. Arsenal’s main main seems to have shaken off that early knock.
8 min: Digne, back on his feet again, chugs down the left flank and gets Everton up the field. Marco Silva will be relieved to see the influential left-back moving well again.
6 min: No luck for Guendouzi: he’s booked. Worryingly for Everton, Digne is still down. It’s been a combative start. Another look at that Lacazette chance shows that Zouma completely took him out with a ludicrous slide tackle. It could easily have been a penalty. In fact, this angle shows Zouma didn’t even touch the ball. It’s one of those where the attacker doesn’t get the decision because he’s already parted with the ball, but it’s hard to see why that wasn’t a foul and an Arsenal penalty.
5 min: Guendouzi’s already riled the Everton fans, raising their ire by treading on Digne’s foot. The left-back stays down. Guendouzi will be fortunate not to receive a booking.
3 min: Lacazette is receiving treatment when the corner, which comes to nothing, comes in. He might not be able to last much longer. Fortunately Aubameyang is a handy option on the bench.
2 min: Arsenal are on the attack straight away, breaking through the middle, Lacazette sent clear down the left. Jagielka’s been caught out. Lacazette advances on goal, but he’s caught by Zouma as he shoots. Zouma got the ball first and then the man. The deflection takes the ball wide for a corner, but Arsenal will be worried to see Lacazette limping after that challenge.
Peep! Everton, kicking from right to left in the first half, get the game underway. They’re in blue, Arsenal are in red and white.
The teams are in the tunnel. And here they come! Goodison Park roars. There’s been a late change to the Everton team: Phil Jagielka is in for the unwell Michael Keane.
Everton are unchanged from last week’s win over West Ham. Bernard, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson are sure to pose problems for their markers.
Arsenal make two changes after last Monday’s win over Newcastle. Mohamed Elneny replaces Aaron Ramsey, who went off with a minor injury against Newcastle, and Alex Iwobi makes way for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. That means there’s there’s a fifth consecutive start for Mesut Ozil – and his first away from home in the league since Boxing Day.
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gomes, Gueye; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Baines, Jagielka, Davies, Walcott, Lookman, Tosun.
Arsenal: Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Maitland-Miles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Ozil; Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Ramsey, Suarez, Jenkinson, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Hello. At first glance the task seems quite simple for Arsenal: if they win their final seven games, they’re guaranteed of Champions League qualification for the first time since 2016. In fact, they’ll even finish third if they collect another 21 points, and wouldn’t that be something given what a mess they were last this time last year. Even if we accept that Manchester United were handicapped by having Jose Mourinho in dugout until the middle of December and that Chelsea have struggled to adapt to Maurizio Sarri’s style of football, there’s no denying that things are looking up for Unai Emery as he approaches the end of his first season at Arsenal.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. For while a top-four finish is Arsenal’s to lose, the situation is complicated by their involvement in the Europa League – they play the first leg of their quarter-final against Napoli on Thursday – and, more importantly, by a schedule that means five of their last seven fixtures in the league are away from the Emirates. Uh oh! Arsenal’s away form isn’t good – only one win on the road since November, assuming we’re counting wins against Huddersfield – and they’re likely to end up missing out if they don’t sort it out sharpish. Trips to Leicester, Watford and Wolves later this month are bound to test them and they’re going to have to be at their best here to deal with Everton, whose improving form means they still have a shot of winning the mildly diverting race to finish seventh.
Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough one for Arsenal. Everton looked impressive while swatting West Ham aside last week – most observers judged it the best performance of Marco Silva’s first season in charge – and the chance to win three on the bounce for the first time this season should be a motivating factor for a side who are beginning to grow in confidence and settle into a pleasing groove. It hasn’t always been easy for Silva, who has often railed at his team’s inconsistency. But after a sticky run there are emerging signs of him getting the best out of the enviable talent at his disposal and Everton’s last two home results – a 2-0 win over Chelsea and a 0-0 draw with title-chasing Liverpool – should tell Arsenal all they need to know. This could be a good one.
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