|Emile Smith Rowe has been Arsenal's inspiration this season, will he fire the Gunners past Everton on Monday? (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
Everton vs ArsenalGoodison Park9:00pm
As the pressure mounts on Rafael Benitez after dark days usurped the early good runs since his takeover at the blue half of Merseyside, the board of the club is firmly behind the Spaniard.
It’s always encouraging to have the club hierarchy on your side even when things aren’t going well but how much time does Benitez have to turn things around? If there’s any game with which he can recoup some confidence, this is it.
Arsenal missed a glorious chance to finally gatecrash the top four with the loss at Old Trafford, it was a game that could have been won by either side and as always, the team that took chances when they came won.
The loss to United means Arsenal must beat Everton away to return to 5th on the log after United beat Crystal Palace on Sunday and right about the same time, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham beat Norwich as well to take the 5th and 6th spot in that regard.
Truth be told, considering the kind of start Arsenal had and the uncertainties in their play, that they’re in the mix for the top four is laudable but with a very big history behind them, it’s expected even as the barest minimum.
Everton did a double over Arsenal last season, that’s a rarity considering the fact that they’re Arsenal’s favorite opponents but a lot has changed since last season and suddenly, the Gunners are the clear favorites to win here.
Where did it go wrong for the Toffees? Injuries to Dominic Calvert Lewin and a few other key players all at the same time meant the manager had to rely on players like Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, the duo fired fiercely for Everton early on but have now tailed out.
Arsenal could have Granit Xhaka on the bench for this game and that would be a big boost ahead of the packed festive period fixtures, Bukayo Saka is back and fit for the game but Emile Smith Rowe will be assessed ahead of the kickoff on Monday.
How will Everton approach this? Solomon Rondon upfront or Richarlison? Gray and Townsend could start on either flank and the availability of Abdoulai Doucoure is a big boost for the hosts, the middle is where they need to impose themselves, they need to create chances and take them.
Arsenal’s rise to relevance has been built on defense, they will be tested by Everton but all eyes will be on Aaron Ramsdale who desperately wants Jordan Pickford’s spot in the 3Lions’ squad, both will be watched by Gareth Southgate on Monday night.