A new era dawns at Goodison Park today when Sean Dyche takes charge of Everton for the first time, though a date with current Premier League leaders and title favourites Arsenal could have hardly been a tougher opening test for the former Burnley boss.
Dyche was a master motivator during his decade-long spell with the Clarets, though the 51-year-old will need to harness every ounce of energy from the home crowd along with the fabled new manager bounce to upset Mikel Arteta’s formidable Gunners on Merseyside.
You know the drill by now. I’ve compiled a stats pack for today’s fascinating lunchtime kick-off which is laden with useful nuggets for anyone putting together bet builders together for the tussle. If you need some pointers on how to get the most out of the data, take a glance at my Stats Pack Guide.
A considerable amount of guesswork will go into the majority of predicted Everton XI’s this week, though we do know that the injured Nathan Patterson, James Garner, Andros Townsend, Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey and Abdoulaye Doucoure won’t feature.
Sean Dyche favoured an old-school 4-4-2 set-up during his lengthy stint with Burnley and he could deploy his troops in a similar formation today. Former Clarets pair James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil played under Dyche for the Clarets and both will hope to start this afternoon.
Gabriel Jesus is still four or five weeks away from making his comeback, while Mohamed Elneny has been ruled out of action with a knee problem. Thomas Partey is a slight doubt with a chest problem and his issue could allow Deadline Day signing Jorginho to earn a first start.
Fellow January signings Leandro Trossard and Jakub Kiwior are expected to be named on the bench. Former Everton player Mikel Arteta isn’t likely to spring any tactical surprises when he takes his current team back to his old stomping ground.
Everton’s stats for the Premier League campaign to date align snuggly with their relegation favourites tag, and with poor numbers across the board, Frank Lampard’s dismissal was probably justified. The Blues will start today with a clean slate under new manager Sean Dyche, however.
While it’s difficult to forecast how the Toffees will perform from an attacking or defensive perspective against Arsenal, we can expect Everton to be aggressive with a certain degree of confidence. Everton have been picking up 2.10 cards per 90 since August and they could be worth backing to collect another raft of bookings today.
Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup by Man City last Friday evening, though their 3-2 win over Manchester United – which featured 25 shots from the hosts – six days before that again highlighted how fearsome an outfit the Gunners have been in the Premier League this season.
A glance at their underlying stats for the campaign reveals a truckload of title-worthy figures and Arsenal have excelled at both ends of the pitch this term.
From a defensive perspective, only Man City can boast better xG and shots on target against figures than Arsenal, though the Gunners have conceded fewer goals than the Cityzens.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
One of Sean Dyche’s first priorities at Everton will be to help Dominic Calvert-Lewin back to fitness and form. The striker mustered five shots in his last four Premier League appearances for the Toffees and the 25-year-old can threaten Arsenal with the right kind of service today.
Elsewhere, Demarai Gray will be keen to impress his new taskmaster. The winger has clocked at least one shot in four of his last five starts for Everton and the 26-year-old racked up three attempts when the Toffees last played Arsenal at Goodison Park (Dec 21).
Arsenal’s front four of Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka and Nketiah has been laying waste to the Premier League this season and that quartet had a phenomenal 20 shots between them in the Gunners’ 3-2 triumph over Man Utd last weekend.
You don’t need to look beyond that foursome for options in the shot market today. When Arsenal hosted Everton at the back end of last season in May, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka and Nketiah all logged at least three shots each, though Brazilian winger Martinelli was the most accurate performer, getting two efforts on target.
Player Goals and Assists
With Anthony Gordon sold to Newcastle, Demarai Gray is out on his own as Everton’s leading marksman in the Premier League and three of the wide attacker’s four goal contributions in the division this term have arrived since the turn of the year.
Gray nabbed a late winner for Everton when they last hosted Arsenal at Goodison Park a little over a year ago and the ex-Leicester starlet could trouble the same set of defenders today. Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi remains Everton’s leader in the assists department, though the 26-year-old hasn’t created a goal in eight straight appearances since October.
Martin Odegaard has gone off the boil slightly in terms of numbers of late and the Norwegian has provided just one goal contribution in his last four runouts. Similarly, Gabriel Martinelli’s haul of zero goals and just one assist from his last five games means he joins Odegaard on our ignored list.
Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka have both claimed three goal contributions each in their last four Premier League starts and either forward could be worth backing to provide another game-changing moment against Everton today. Nketiah scored and Saka assisted when Arsenal beat Everton 5-1 at The Emirates Stadium last May.
Burnley were prolific long-ball merchants under Sean Dyche, so it makes sense to expect Everton to adopt a direct style of play against Arsenal this afternoon. Centre-halves Conor Coady and James Tarkowski were instructed to pass the ball out on the deck by Frank Lampard, though both are likely to go more route one today.
The prices in the passing markets don’t particularly favour any Everton player today and I’d be surprised if any blue-clad combatant plays 40 passes against Arsenal. As a consequence, it might be cannier to fill your coupon with Gunners here.
Arsenal have been dropping down the possession rankings in the Premier League in recent weeks and currently, four sides (Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Brighton) sit above the Gunners in the average possession per game stakes.
Nevertheless, Arsenal should see more of the ball than Everton today, and each member of their back four should enjoy their fair share of touches. The versatile Oleksandr Zinchenko has been eclipsing his defensive teammates in the distribution department of late. The 26-year-old has played 70 or more passes in each of his last three Premier League starts.
Bone-bruising midfield duo Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye should be front of the queue to pick up a card today with the holding Everton midfielders certain to have a heavy defensive workload.
Onana and Gueye have already collected eight bookings between them in the Premier League and both could end up in David Coote’s notebook this afternoon. Elsewhere, James Tarkowski could toil against the rapid forwards in the Gunners frontline and the one-speed centre-half might have to chop a few runners down later on.
Everton will try to turn midfield into a bit of a battleground today and Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard could both be on the end of some meaty challenges from the Toffees’ Onana and Gueye.
Martin Odegaard’s creative wizardry should ensure he has a target on his back. Idrissa Gueye will be happy to stick his foot and studs in to knock the Norwegian playmaker off his stride.
Further forward, Eddie Nketiah’s explosive acceleration should put James Tarkowski on edge. Nketiah tends to be fouled more than any of his Arsenal teammates and Tarkowski could be the striker’s latest marker to knock him about.
Match-Ups to watch
Amadou Onana vs Granit Xhaka
James Tarkowski vs Eddie Nketiah
Idrissa Gueye vs Martin Odegaard
Arsenal have several defenders who aren’t shy about committing cynical fouls when required and today, right-back Ben White and centre-back Gabriel, might be forced to reach into their bag of nefarious tricks against a couple of tricky opponents.
Idrissa Gueye is expected to both dish out and receive punishment in midfield today and the combative character should trade quite a few blows with Martin Odegaard. Looks can be deceiving and the Norwegian is made of sturdy stuff.
Demarai Gray has caused Arsenal problems in the past and Ben White could hit him hard and early in an attempt to keep him on the periphery of the action. There is card potential in that head-to-head and in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s individual battle with Brazilian defender Gabriel.
More centrally, Idrissa Gueye is an expert at drawing the worst of opponents, who can often become frustrated at the Senegalese international’s physical approach. Martin Odegaard has enough of a nasty side to return fire against Gueye today.
Match-Ups to watch
Ben White vs Demarai Gray
Gabriel Magalhaes vs Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Martin Odegaard vs Idrissa Gueye
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
From the pack, there’s a few picks that caught my eye for value and the stats more than back my case. If you want to load any of them into your betslip, just use the link below, and make sure to use the link above if it’s your first time with Betfair to get some free bets.
Everton vs Arsenal
Arsenal have won 4, drawn 1 in their last 5.
Everton have lost 4, drawn 1 in their last 5.
Arsenal have scored 2.37 and conceded 0.84 per game.
Everton have scored 0.75 and conceded 1.40 per game.
Bukayo Saka has 7 goals and 7 assists in 19 appearances.
He has 3 contributions in his last 4 Premier League games.
Saka assisted last time he played Everton.
Amadou Onana commits 1.81 fouls per game.
Up against Eddie Nketiah who averages 2.24 fouls drawn p/90 and 3.43 dribbles p/90.
Also up against, Granit Xhaka who is fouled 1.11 times p/90.
Everton average 2.10 cards per game.
Arsenal opponents average 2.37 cards per game.
Referee Paul Tierney averages 3.71 cards per game.