Arsenal had a transfer window that Football Manager players can sympathise with. Unable to make their best player stay, they swapped him for an attacking midfielder. They then sold some of their squad players that have been Emirates stalwarts to fund a move for a superstar striker.
It’s yet to be seen where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will fit in. He could play from the flank with Alexandre Lacazette retaining the central striking berth or – as is more probable – we may see regular rotation between the pair.
The Gunners’ opponents this Saturday evening had an active window themselves. Sam Allardyce was outspoken about the decisions of Ademola Lookman and Davy Klaassen in midweek, but the Toffees also added a big-name centre-forward in the shape of Cenk Tosun.
Everton are yet comfortable in mid-table, however. Their surprise win over Leicester in midweek – which brought an end to a seven-match winless streak including just three goals scored – added to their cushion from the bottom three. New-signing, Theo Walcott, was at the centre of their success with a brace, but it was Wayne Rooney who was once again the catalyst.
Walcott only moved from the Emirates to Goodison earlier this window, and will likely start against his former club on Saturday evening. I certainly like the look of the 12/1 price for the England international to open the scoring.
Aside from the transfer furore, Arsenal are not in a great way right now. They have won just one of their last five in the league, and lost to then bottom of the league Swansea last time out thanks to some blooper-reel defending.
The hosts for his one boast the second-highest average possession in the league. They are against a Sam Allardyce team. It could be a night of pass-counters in the bottom corner of the screen and sub-30% possession for the visitors. Of course, that means absolutely nothing, but it does set Everton up for the sucker-punch that Arsenal are always so very vulnerable to.
It’s going to be about spoiling rather than producing for the Toffees. That makes the booking markets worth a look. I think we could see the odd tactical foul in the midfield, particularly if Mesut Ozil begins to work his magic. Idrissa Gueye at 12/5 or Tom Davies at 3/1 to pick up a booking are the stand outs for me.
Prior to the midweek matches, I saw this as a comfortable win for Arsenal. Their dire performance at the Liberty Stadium and Everton’s win over a strong Leicester has made me change that somewhat. Arsene Wenger’s side have a tendency to put a string of poor displays together, and Allardyce teams are masterful at making the big boys look inadequate.
It has been said far too much already since Aubameyang signed, but Arsenal’s issues go beyond a forward. A new goalkeeper and central midfield reinforcement should have been a priority this window. Instead, they will continue to drop points from their same old failings. Start well, and the expectant Emirates crowd could make this a challenging night.
TIP: Match to be drawn 1-1 @ 19/2
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*