Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side travel to Everton in the Premier League on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Everton are one of the Premier League’s more confusing sides: languishing in 12th position despite having scored the fourth-most goals in the league and boasting a +12 goal difference, it feels like the Toffees have underachieved.
Nevertheless, they’re still capable of turning in excellent performances, as they demonstrated with last weekend’s fine 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Although Roberto Martinez used a 3-4-2-1 system against West Ham in Everton’s last league game, his default formation is a more conventional 4-2-3-1. In previous meetings against Arsenal he’s sometimes deployed a false nine and fielded Romelu Lukaku wide, but the departure of Steven Naismith means this is much less likely.
"This should be an open, entertaining game. Two statistics demonstrate the similar approach of these sides - Arsenal and Everton are the most prolific dribblers in the league, and have collected fewer bookings than the other 18 Premier League sides."
Lukaku, who hit two against former club Chelsea last weekend and is the third top-goalscorer in the Premier League on 18 goals, will lead the line and make constant runs into the channels.
Always a ruthless finisher, Lukaku’s movement and link-up play have improved over the past season, and he combines effectively with Ross Barkley. The attacking midfielder is excellent at drifting laterally to find pockets of space, and has become much more decisive with his final ball. He regularly supplied Lukaku with good passes in the reverse fixture, a 2-1 Arsenal win.
Out wide, Martinez currently prefers a system featuring Tom Cleverley drifting inside from the left to help in midfield, sometimes alternating with Barkley, with Aaron Lennon handed a more attacking brief on the right. The former Spurs man has evolved impressively under Martinez, drifting inside into goalscoring positions more frequently.
Gareth Barry’s one-game ban means Mohamed Besic should come into the side, and play a holding role to allow James McCarthy to burst forward into attack. Everton aren’t as obsessed with possession as in Martinez’s first couple of seasons, and don’t retain the ball for so long in deep positions.
The holding players sometimes take up very defensive positions, though, allowing the full-backs to scamper forward. Right-sided Seamus Coleman remains extremely energetic and effective in the final third, while Leighton Baines and Bryan Oviedo have been battling for the left-back slot recently - the latter has impressed in the absence of his more experienced team-mate. Both are excellent crossers.
John Stones has found himself out of the side recently, with Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Fuenes Mori preferred for their more traditional centre-back qualities. In goal, meanwhile, Joel Robles has displaced Tim Howard.
This should be an open, entertaining game. Two statistics demonstrate the similar approach of these sides - Arsenal and Everton are the most prolific dribblers in the league, and have collected fewer bookings than the other 18 Premier League sides.
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