There can be no more slip-ups for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger if they wish to challenge for a top four finish this season, while Ronald Koeman has his own problems at Everton.
Arsenal sit in seventh place ahead of kick-off at Goodison Park, three points adrift of Chelsea in fourth spot as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Watford last weekend.
They battled to a win in midweek against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League, with a brilliant team goal eventually breaking their opponents down late on. Wenger will want to see more of that steeliness and character in this encounter, as it will be a difficult place to go regardless of Everton’s current form.
Koeman’s side have picked up just eight points from their opening eight games, with the pressure building on the Dutch manager given how much the club spent this past summer to revamp the squad.
Scoring goals has been their biggest problem with just five in those eight games, and so Arsenal will not want to be the team that they finally find their goalscoring touch against.
Arsene Wenger is set for a triple fitness boost, as noted by the Liverpool Echo, with Alexis Sanchez, Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey all set to feature.
However, Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers and Francis Coquelin are all doubts and it remains to be seen whether or not they’re passed fit to feature.
As for Everton, Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Leighton Baines, Idrissa Gueye and Phil Jagielka could all return after being rested in midweek against Lyon in the Europa League as they’ve been regulars in the Premier League.
Everton: Pickford; Holgate, Keane, Jagielka, Baines; Davies, Gueye; Lookman, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin.
Arsenal: Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Sanchez; Lacazette.
As always is the case when facing Everton at Goodison Park, this is going to be a difficult afternoon for Arsenal. However, given the home side’s goalscoring troubles and general woes right now, this is as good a time as any for the Gunners to come away with something.
Expect an improved Everton performance given the step up in opposition, but ultimately I see Arsenal just nicking this one and heading back to London with all three points, especially if they have Alexis Sanchez in the XI linking up with Alexandre Lacazette.
It will come down to moments of individual quality to break Everton down, and although there’s a worrying lack of pace in the Arsenal backline, they shouldn’t be exposed in this one.
Everton 1-2 Arsenal.