Another day, another Arsenal match. The Gunners travel to Goodison Park to take on a struggling Everton side. The Toffees are winless in their last 8 matches with 6 losses, their worst run of form in 22 years. The fans are planning a walkout in the first half to protest the state of the club. So that’s a nailed-on 2-0 win to Everton, yeah? Arsenal faced a “struggling” Manchester United side on Thursday, and we saw how that played out.
Everton won both meetings against the Gunners last season, but they both came with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the lineup. The star striker will be out at least a few more weeks with a fractured toe suffered at the end of August. He is a difference-maker, and Rafa Benitez’s side have looked a bit lost without him.
But it’s not as if Everton don’t have any attacking talent. Richarlison is ever-dangerous, although cutting an increasingly frustrated figure at the lack of service he is receiving. Demari Gray is playing well, and Andros Townsend looks revitalized. Solomon Rondon, however, is questionable with a hamstring problem.
The matchup I’m most focused on is Thomas Partey vs. Abdoulaye Doucouré. The pair might not directly clash much, but the match will be determined by which has a bigger influence on possession and tempo. Partey recently admitted that he has not been anywhere near his best and is still adapting to the Premier League. As for Doucouré, someone quipped before the Merseyside Derby that the combined 11 for Liverpool and Everton was just the Reds starting lineup. He’s the only one that I paused to think about.
I’ll also be keeping an eye on how Arsenal attack Everton’s leaky backline, especially given Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s much-discussed struggles scoring goals. Yerry Mina could return to shore things up, but after missing two months with a muscle problem, it could be too soon for him to make the XI. The same could be said for Andre Gomes. He would provide the Toffees with a bit of steel in the midfield, but he’s probably not fit to start yet.
Emile Smith Rowe and Bernd Leno both have muscle tightness that could affect their availability for today’s match. I would not be surprised to see ESR get the day off given his recent workload and the fact that the Gunners have a match every 3.5 days in December. Sead Kolasinac is out long-term with an ankle injury.
Granit Xhaka has been in full training this week, and earlier today, he declared himself back in an Instagram post.
As our regular readers know, this is the “Aaron’s relationship” derby. When my GF and I started dating, she decided she wanted to support a non-Arsenal Premier League team. She tried to become a Manchester United fan and I categorically would not allow that. We settled on Everton for her, in part because they are The Toffees and she likes candy. So the Gunners could do me a massive solid by winning today.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette
TEAM NEWS!— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 6, 2021
Kieran Tierney comes in
Granit Xhaka starts!
Alex Lacazette leads the line#EVEARS
Everton - Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Mina, Allan Doucouré, Gray, Townsend, Gordon, Richarlison
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