Everton (+300) vs Arsenal (+106), Draw (+270)
Who do you choose when you’re forced to pick between two wildly underperforming teams?
That’s the dilemma punters face this Sunday (October 22nd) when Arsenal (4-1-3, 13 points) head north to take on Everton (2-2-4, 8 points) at Goodison Park. After a disappointing start to the season for both clubs, a solid win this weekend could be the start of a turnaround.
Arsenal was humiliated by Watford last weekend, losing 2-1 after conceding in the 92nd minute. Arsene Wenger was left fuming after a controversial penalty allowed Watford to equalize, and he’s right to be angry. There was only a hint of contact between Héctor Bellerín and Watford striker Richarlison, yet the young Brazilian made a full-course meal of it. But the game should never have been that close in the first place. Can we even call it an upset when we’ve come to expect this from Arsenal?
The season is still young and already the Gunners have suffered an embarrassing loss to Stoke and a 4-0 blowout against Liverpool. There’s ample time to recover if they play their cards right, but they haven’t shown much of a poker acumen in recent history.
With all that said, it seems a little ridiculous to even consider Arsenal at +106 away from home. But wait, let’s consider Everton.
Forget breaking the top five, Everton are now focussed on simply avoiding relegation. Sitting in 16th place, just two points above the dreaded dotted line, the Toffees are hardly guaranteed a place in the Premier League next season.
How did last year’s seventh-place finishers fall to such a dismal low? The short answer: Romelu Lukaku (or lack thereof).
Without their star striker, Everton are all out of goalscoring options. You can’t blame them for failing to hang onto Lukaku; he was always going to leave for a bigger club and €84.7 million was a very generous transfer fee. But we can blame Ronald Koeman and the Everton board for failing to sign a suitable replacement over the summer.
They spent a sizeable amount signing three attacking midfielders — Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen, and Nikola Vlasic — but barely made an effort to snap up a competent striker. Instead, they brought home a 31-year-old Wayne Rooney.
With only five goals in their opening eight league games, Everton are paying for their roster blunders. Rooney is their leading scorer with three goals and Senegalese striker Oumar Niasse has netted two. No one else has managed to find the net.
It’s safe to say that the best option, er least bad option, is Arsenal. The Gunners are prone to defensive errors but Everton won’t be capable of making them pay for it. Though they are far from their best, Arsenal still have a ton of individual talent, which should be enough for this weekend.
Pick: Arsenal (+106)