Arsenal v Everton: Premier League Match Preview
Arsenal complete their Premier League campaign by hosting Everton at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon (3.00pm kick-off UK time).
Only time will tell whether this will also be Arsene Wenger’s last match as Arsenal manager at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger’s future is to be discussed at a board meeting that it’s being reported will take place a few days after the FA Cup final on 27th May.
To add to the uncertainty surrounding the club, Alisher Usmanov it is being reported has made a £1bn bid to buy-out majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.
The indications are that the bid will be rejected by Kroenke, but the club has yet to issue any public statement on whether Usmanov has in fact made a bid and the response to it.
At least whether Arsenal will be playing Champions League or Europa League football next season will be known when season ticket renewals begin in the next week.
Back to today’s match.
The Gunners have won each of their last nine home matches on the final day of the season. The Toffees have won seven of their last nine overall (L2).
The Gunners go into today’s final round of fixtures in fifth position in the Premier League table.
Arsenal have 72 points from 37 matches, with a goal difference of plus 31.
That’s one point more than their final 2015-16 tally of 71. Another win would give them their joint-second highest points total in the last nine seasons.
To secure a top four league finish the Gunners are reliant on Liverpool dropping points and/or Manchester City losing.
Fourth place Liverpool have 73 points from 37 matches, with a goal difference of plus 33.
The Reds are at home to relegated Middlesbrough today.
Third place Manchester City are on 75 points from 37 matches, with a goal difference of plus 36.
The Citizens are away to Watford today.
Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-0 in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.
The Gunners have lost only one of their last 17 Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium (W13 D3 L1).
Arsenal have won four successive league matches at the Emirates Stadium, keeping clean sheets in all of them.
Everton are in seventh place in the table, with 61 points from 37 matches, in Ronald Koeman’s first season as manager.
Ross Barkley’s goal settled Everton’s last match with Watford at Goodison Park on Friday 12th May.
It was Everton’s first goal, and win, in four matches.
Everton are winless in seven Premier League away games since a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace in January (D4, L3).
The Toffees creditable season has really been built on their home form at Goodison Park, with 13 wins in the 19 games.
Everton won 43 points at Goodison Park in the Premier League this season, their most in a top-flight campaign at home since 1989-90 (45).
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 20 Premier League home matches against Everton (W16 D4), their longest unbeaten streak against a side in the competition.
Everton’s last away victory came at Highbury in January 1996, when Graham Stuart and Andrei Kanchelskis scored in a 2-1 win.
After beating the Gunners in the reverse fixture this season, the Toffees though are looking to do a league double over Arsenal for the first time since 1985/86.
Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku go into today’s match with a chance of claiming the Premier League Golden Boot.
Harry Kane’s four goals for Tottenham Hotspur against Leicester City on Thursday night put him in pole position to claim the Golden Boot award. Kane has scored twenty-six Premier League goals and will look to add to that total in Spurs final fixture against relegated Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.
Sanchez’s double against Sunderland on Wednesday night took his Premier League goal tally to twenty-three this season.
Lukaku has gone four games without a goal, but has still scored twenty-four goals in the Premier League this season and also has six assists.
Lukaku has a chance of becoming first Belgian to win the Premier League Golden Boot and the first player to win it from a club outside of the top four since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for Chelsea in 2000/01.
This is what Wenger had to say about his future and the implications of not achieving a top-four Premier League finish.
“I think it [the board meeting to discuss his future] is after the FA Cup – yes.”
“There are many aspects to be discussed at a board meeting. One is what happens with the manager.
“Of course I will be there. At the moment we should focus on the short-term and what is going to happen on Sunday and in the cup final.
“It will be my last game at the Emirates this season.
“The most important thing is to win the football game. What happens to me after that is less important.
I am here to serve the club and the best way to do that is by winning the next game.
“Our chances don’t matter – all we can do is win our game.
“We have to do our job, we are professionals and want to win.
“We are on a good run and all we can do is win our game on Sunday. After that what happens to me is less important.
“By keeping the quality of our game very high, by putting offensive pressure on them, by maintaining our run.
“We just want everybody to play 100% in last game as is the tradition in England.”
This is what Koeman had to say about Everton’s season, facing Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
“You work hard to get to the highest position in the table, you know if you are seventh then you have to play Europa League football.
“The Champions League is the next step. If we can do our business this summer then the team for next season will be really strong.
“If we have a stronger team the expectation will be higher, that’s okay. I know I can deal with the pressure.”
“We like to finish strong.
“It’s not up to Arsenal because if Liverpool and City do the job they will finish in Europa League. That is not good enough for Arsenal.
“We can beat them. I have a good record against Arsenal, let’s hope we keep that (adding he’s not concerned at Everton’s 21-year wait for a win at Arsenal).
“Being a manager of Arsenal is always difficult. He did a good job but if they are out of the Champions League or title.
“They still have a chance to win the FA Cup.
“The people might want to see a new face but he has a great history as a manager.”
Laurent Koscielny (calf & achilles) is a doubt.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) remains out.
Aaron Ramsey is fit despite limping off against Sunderland on Tuesday with a thigh strain.
The Toffees have no new injury problems after their last Premier League match against Watford.
Seamus Coleman remains sidelined after sustaining a broken leg playing for the Republic of Ireland against Wales.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: S Bennett, A Holmes
Fourth official: C Pawson
Arsenal to claim a final day league victory with a 2-1 scoreline.