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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Arsenal can prevail in entertaining encounter with Everton

Goal glut on cards at Emirates with cautious mindsets unlikely

Arsenal celebrate Mesut Ozil's goal against Newcastle
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Arsenal's reputation for attacking excellence and defensive frailty has been maintained by their involvement in several high-scoring games this season and a goal glut looks likely when they take on Everton at the Emirates.

There was a yearning for change during the last few years of Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign but his replacement, Unai Emery, is delivering a similar style of football.

Emery has made some tough decisions, substituting Mesut Ozil during the 3-2 loss at Chelsea and withdrawing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in last Saturday's 2-1 success at Newcastle.

But Arsenal are still far more comfortable with the ball than without it and it make take a few more transfer windows before they get the balance right.

Emery's stock among the fans has been rising thanks to three successive Premier League wins, although none of them have been accompanied by a clean sheet.

Emery is still working out his best team and might have got a little bit closer at St James' Park when making the half-time decision to introduce Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira for Matteo Guendouzi.

Arsenal had looked vulnerable in the first half because they were sloppy in possession and lacked bite in midfield.

But Torreira made a difference by providing a reliable link between defence and attack and when Arsenal lost the ball he was far more effective than Guendouzi in screening the back four.

He contributed to a much-improved second-half performance as Arsenal ran out deserved winners.

The Gunners backed it up by winning 4-2 at home to Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League on Thursday and success over Everton would give the Gunners a fourth successive league win for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Everton's record at the Emirates is abysmal. They have never won at the venue and last registered an away win over Arsenal in January 1996, when a late Andrei Kanchelskis goal sealed a 2-1 triumph.

Last season the Merseysiders shipped ten goals to the Gunners, losing 5-2 at Goodision and 5-1 in London, but they are unlikely to approach this game with a cautious mindset.

Everton gaffer Marco Silva likes his teams to play on the front foot but it can leave them open, as was the case last Saturday when the Toffees slipped to a 3-1 loss at home to West Ham.

Silva has a stronger hand to play with centre-backs Yerry Mina and Michael Keane back in training and top-scorer Richarlison available after a three-game ban.

But Everton's defensive problems may not be resolved by Mina or Keane, who are likely to be lacking match sharpness.

Arsenal should expose the defensive weakness of the Toffees and should keep their winning run going, but that elusive first clean sheet of the season may elude them.

Everton attackers Richarlison and Theo Walcott are at their most dangerous when up against a high defensive line and their pace could be a key factor in getting the away side on the scoresheet.

Arsenal to win & both teams to score
1pt 2-1 Betfair

Bet on this match at

Team news
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle) is a doubt and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Sead Kolasinac (knee), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (broken leg) and Carl Jenkinson (ankle) are unavailable.

Richarlison is available after suspension and Yerry Mina is pushing for a start after joining in full training. Michael Keane (skull fracture) is also back in contention but Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka have been ruled out.

Key stat
Arsenal have kept one clean sheet in their last eight home matches.

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Arsenal have kept only one clean sheet in their last eight home matches
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