Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Goodison Park on Sunday, we checked in with our friends at Royal Blue Mersey, the SBN Everton blog. Trent Nelson (@TRichard_Nelson) was kind enough to answer our questions about the sentiments on the blue side of the Mersey, new additions at Goodison Park, the latest on the potential sale to 777 Partners, and why Everton have been so tough for Arsenal of late.
You can check out my answers to his questions here.
TSF: What’s the sentiment at Goodison Park after just avoiding the drop last season and a slow start to the season?
RBM: Tortured. The supporters feel like it’s the worst Groundhog Day imaginable. This is the third year that things have appeared uneasy for the side, and it has been difficult to get the team back on track since the departure of Don Carlo Ancelotti.
Yet there is eternal hope on Merseyside. The side is strapped for cash, but has made due by accepting loaned players while using their available funds more wisely than they have in the recent past. If the likes of Arnaut Danjuma, Beto, and Jack Harrison play well, alongside who we already have on the team, Everton will not be in a relegation battle at the end of the year. Should they fail, it could very well mean a tough battle and even the ultimate failure in that realm.
TSF: What are the feelings about the sale to 777 Partners? They haven’t got the best track record with their business ownings.
RBM: They haven’t. One of those out of the frying pan and into the flames moments, isn’t it?
While the Genoese do not have much bad to say about 777, they might be a minority to that point. This is easily the biggest club in their portfolio, however, and there really isn’t much to strip away from this team at this point; Moshiri and Co. have done a good job of that themselves.
There is only up from here, so hopefully 777 works.
TSF: Is the Everton first team a bit short? Talk about what the club added and didn’t add in the transfer window.
RBM: It is, but it’s getting better. As noted above, the likes of Beto, Danjuma and Harrison are massive innovations, and along with who the team has, there is hope. We didn’t get anymore offensive midfield help - and we lost Iwobi to Fulham - so that remains as big an issue as the attacking sphere, but the back line is also a secret problem.
Dyche needs better defenders for his system, yet he doesn’t have enough of them. These are the flaws and imperfections of the side, but they have the names and talents to secure a better final position this year than last.
TSF: Why can’t Everton score goals so far this season?
RBM: Finishing remains the issue. DCL was our only remaining true finisher after Richie, and his injury history has caused us major problems since even before Richarlison headed to north London.
Neal Maupay was literally zero help, but Dwight McNeil what’s been when healthy. Adding the likes of Beto, Danjuma and Harrison can only help the side finish, and as one of my colleagues at RBM said recently, “if we finish, we win.” We will see.
TSF: What is it about Everton vs. Arsenal, especially at Goodison, that has caused the Gunners so much trouble?
RBM: The two sides are amongst the richest historical treasures in the history of English football. Each knows that, and each wants it, but Everton has gotten the better in recent matchups at home. I’d put it down to determination, playing up to sides and playing down to them; if Arsenal doesn’t play great against lesser sides, and Everton plays more intensely than they do against lesser sides, then it is a much closer match than anyone might first anticipate.
TSF: Say Arsenal smash Everton on Sunday. What happened? What areas of the pitch / Everton formation were exposed?
RBM: Lack of finishing and the back line. If we can’t score, the pressure will mount and the back line will suffer.
TSF: Everton beat Arsenal. What happened? How’d they score and keep the Gunners out?
RBM: We will finish and as a result, the rest of the side will play better and look to protect that innovation.
TSF: How do you expect Everton to line up this weekend?
RBM: I think a 4-4-1-1; I’ll say that some of the new boys get a bit more play too.
Pickford; Young, Branthwaite, Tarkowski, Patterson; Danjuma, Onana, Gueye, Garner; Doucoure; Beto
TSF: And finally, what’s your score prediction for the match?
RBM: 2-2. Everton will look better than they have and cause trouble for a side challenging for the Premier League and UCL.