PREVIEW: Risk and reward for Arsenal in bid to take points from Everton

Getting a result at Everton is going to be a tall order for an Arsenal side struggling on their worst league run for more than 40 years – but they are not entirely without hope.

The Toffees are enjoying an excellent season under Carlo Ancelotti, finding themselves in fifth place in the Premier League and having racked up notable victories over Tottenham, Chelsea and Leicester.

The have scored freely – some 23 goals so far – and have a striker in Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the form of his life.
That said, only Liverpool have conceded more goals among the teams in the top half of the table and they have also shown better form on the road than they have at Goodison Park, averaging 1.6 points per game at home against 1.86 points per game away.

In short, Everton score plenty and attack well, but they also give up chances.

To that end, if Arsenal are going to get something from their trip north, they will have to be bold, much bolder than they have been for a while. They will need to show the sort of ambition and willingness to get forward that we saw a rare glimpse of in the second half against Southampton on Wednesday.

In that all-too-fleeting period they showed that, if they can get Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into a scoring position, he will score. It’s that simple. In Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe, they have wide players who can run at the opponents and get into dangerous areas too. They need to maximise their talents and potential by finding a way to get the ball to them with regularity and in areas where they can hurt the opposition.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to sacrifice our recent defensive rigour in order to achieve those aims, it could simply be a matter of being braver. Both Aubameyang and Bernd Leno (as well as Theo Walcott) have alluded to a lack of confidence among the Arsenal players in their recent run and anyone who has watched the Gunners of late could attest to a palpable sense of fear in their football.

Casting off those doubts and playing with greater freedom is going to be essential in order to lift themselves out of their current funk. I don’t expect miracles, and anyone who does is being naive, but I would like to see this team get back to playing the sort of football we were once famed for. That doesn’t mean committing 10 men to the attack and praying we can avoid the counter, but it does mean better movement, quicker passing, and more ambition.

I’m not confident we can take much from Everton in their current form but it’s certainly not a hopeless task. It only takes a goal to turn things around.

Check out my pre-Everton preview on YouTube here.

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