Everton v Arsenal preview: Gunners aim to bridge 11-gap to leaders Leicester
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 19/03/16 6:04pm
Arsenal will aim to end a miserable week on a high by closing the gap on league leaders Leicester against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
At the start of the year, Arsenal were two points clear of Leicester at the top of the table and in contention for three trophies.
Three months later, Arsene Wenger's side trail leaders Leicester by 11 points in third position and have been eliminated from the FA Cup by Watford and the Champions League by Barcelona.
Now the clamour for Wenger's 20-year reign in north London to end is growing louder following a run of one win in eight games and four in the past 15 and things don't get any easier when they take on FA Cup semi-finalists Everton this weekend.
Everton must do without experienced midfielder Gareth Barry who was dismissed for the second time this season against Chelsea in the FA Cup and will begin a two-match ban, while Kevin Mirallas will also miss out as he completes a suspension of the same length.
Muhamed Besic has been declared fit and could replace Barry in midfield and Bryan Oviedo (chest infection) has a chance at returning to the squad following his illness.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will be without Mathieu Flamini after the midfielder came off with a hamstring injury in Wednesday's 3-1 defeat at Barcelona.
He joins Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Jack Wilshere (leg), Tomas Rosicky (thigh), Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla (Achilles) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) to miss the game.
Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last five games in all competitions against Everton, including in each of the last three Premier League meetings.
Mesut Ozil has scored two goals and assisted four more in five appearances in all competitions against the Toffees.
Everton have won just one of the last 18 matches in all competitions against the Gunners (D6 L11), but Wenger's side have won none of the last three league trips to Goodison Park (D2 L1).
Roberto Martinez's side have won just one of their last eight top-flight games at Goodison Park (D2 L5), while Arsenal have won two of their last nine league matches away from home (D4 L3).
You just never know what Everton side are going to turn up! One minute they are brilliant and then the next they're not. It was a great result in the FA Cup against Chelsea and reaching the semi-final is a major boost for Martinez, however, before that result they haven't been great at home. On the other hand, I thought Arsenal did well against Barcelona and they will be hoping to translate that form to the league. A draw is no good to either side here but I don't think there's much between the sides. I'm going for a 1-1 draw.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet's odds: 11/2)
Everton are Sky Bet's marginal favourites at 6/4 for the victory with Arsenal 13/8 and the draw priced at 13/5. The Gunners head into the weekend with odds of 13/2 to win the Premier League title, with Leicester 8/11 favourites followed by Tottenham at 5/2. Romelu Lukaku heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2, while Giroud and Danny Welbeck tied at the head of the visitors' side of the market at 11/2 apiece. Find out what the Soccer Saturday pundits and Jamie Redknapp are backing in their Sky Bet tips here.