Both Everton and Arsenal spent big in the summer.
The Merseyside club splashed out around £150m on the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen, whilst the Gunners finally bought themselves a world-class striker in Alexandre Lacazette. However, there is more discontent than ever at both clubs, after underwhelming starts to the season.
One of the fiercest criticisms levelled at Everton has been that they are trying to put square pegs into round holes. Ronald Koeman is trying to fit Sigurdsson, Klaassen and Wayne Rooney into the team when all three are best suited to the number ten role.
Since taking four points from their first two games, including an excellent draw against Man City, they have struggled. Their only victory since mid-August was a win in which forgotten man Oumar Niasse’s scored a brace in a late comeback against Bournemouth.
Another poor performance against Brighton last Sunday was salvaged by a late equaliser from Rooney, but the Toffees still sit just above the relegation zone. Goodison Park used to be a fortress under David Moyes, particularly against the top teams, and Ronald Koeman needs to recapture some of that magic on Sunday.
Expectations at the Emirates are always high, and after Arsenal’s 4-0 capitulation against Liverpool in late August, the calls for Arsène Wenger’s resignation grew louder than ever. However, some solid, if unspectacular, performances since then had eased the tension somewhat.
Their last-gasp defeat to Watford on Saturday evening showcased some familiar frailties though. If the debatable penalty that they conceded was unfortunate, there was no excuse for Watford’s winner. Failing to properly clear a couple of weak Watford shots was sloppy enough, but Granit Xhaka’s inability to track Tom Cleverley’s run as he raced in to the box to slam home the winner was inexcusable. Troy Deeney’s scathing post-match analysis, in which he claimed that Arsenal lacked fight, was widely accepted, except by the Arsenal players and manager of course.
With multiple sources reporting that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil may be sold in January, the two superstars are not guaranteed to start any more, leaving Arsenal’s hopes of a top four finish hanging by a thread. If Koeman plays his cards right on Sunday, perhaps giving starts to creative outlets such as Nikola Vlašić and Kevin Mirallas, he has a chance to deepen the gloom at The Emirates.
Match Prediction: 1-1