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Dennis Bergkamp scores Arsenal’s sixth goal against Everton during the Premiership match at Highbury on 11 May 2005. Arsenal won 7-0.

It seems just yesterday that we played the blue half of Merseyside in a maelstrom of Dyche-inspired energy and Scouse hysteria when we didn’t display the poise necessary to take a point, let alone all three. That set-back was the beginning of a rocky spell for this young Arsenal team who had not only surprised us by garnering a record points harvest to top the league at Christmas but also, until that wobble, by maintaining their momentum despite the loss of Gabriel Jesús, their early season talisman. That Everton game was the first of three consecutive league fixtures from which we took a solitary point from nine and this provoked doubts among the faithful and predictable predictions of decline and ‘wheels falling off’ from the usual critics.

In fact, we have had an ‘Indian Sign’ over both Everton and Dyche over the years. On a head to head since our first meeting in April 1905, we have beaten Everton 109 times, drawn 46 and lost 65. Since the Premier League’s inception (everyone knows that socca only began in 1992), we have played Everton 30 times at our place and won 23, drawn 5 and lost 2 scoring an aggregate of 68 goals and conceding 22. Turning to their dysphonic coach, Dyche has taken on the Arsenal 16 times and has a record of 2 wins, 3 draws and 11 defeats with an aggregate of 7 goals scored and 27 conceded. Of course, only one of those games on Dyche’s record against the Arsenal involved Everton: that 1-0 aberration just a couple of weeks ago. Normal relations with both must be resumed.

After 24 games, Everton come into this fixture sitting in the relegation places at 18th with 21 points from 5 wins and 6 draws, having scored the league’s lowest goal tally at 17. Their tally of 32 goals conceded is more ‘mid-table’ and 12thbest in the league. Clearly Everton’s primary problem is scoring goals. In their Premier League home games this season they have 4 wins, 2 draws and 6 defeats scoring 11 and conceding 16 and their away form is worse with a solitary win, 5 draws and 6 defeats, with 6 goals scored and 16 conceded. 

Since Dyche took charge Everton’s numbers have improved a tad. Twenty games pre-Dyche yielded 3 wins and 6 draws with 15 goals scored and 30 conceded while 4 games under Dyche yielded 2 wins and 2 losses with 2 goals scored and 4 conceded. Dyche has improved Everton’s defensive organisation and midfield competitiveness as we recently discovered to our cost but without yet finding the key to scoring goals. I hope that key continues to elude him. Everton’s recent game against Villa demonstrated both their defensive obstinacy and their impotence in attack – a soft second half penalty broke the deadlock in that game and the final 2-0 score considerably flatters Villa. That was a much tighter game than that scoreline suggests.

We can expect an identical Everton to the one that we encountered at Goodison and a close doppelganger for the Burnley team we grew to despise. Everton are desperate for points, will fight for every ball, will cross the line physically at every opportunity and will hope for a decisive set piece or two to steal as many points from the game as the referee will allow them. Certainly, against Villa, set pieces were again their only real threat and in the absence of Calvert-Lewin with a hamstring injury sustained against us (which I expect to continue), the execrable Maupay (1 goal in his last 28 games) led their line in the guise of an isolated leper. I hope that Ramsdale has on body armour and has had a prophylactic shot or two of antibiotics. The rest of the Everton team is as predictable as their tactics which will focus entirely on stopping us playing and hoping for a lucky break from a set piece. They will line up in a 4-5-1 with a solid back four of Coleman, Coady, Tarkowski and Mykolenko who will make high balls into the box a futile venture. Doucouré, Gueye and Onana, three big units, will provide a central obstacle, with menace, to attempts by Ødegaard, Xhaka, Trossard/Nketiah and Partey/Jorginho to strut their stuff, weave patterns and control the game. Iwobi and McNeil will provide width in midfield and support occasional attacks but will also frequently double-up with their full-back against our wingmen.

Thanks to the team’s sterling work at Villa and Leicester and the unexpected contribution of Nottingham Forest, the Arsenal sit back on top of the pile, 2 points ahead of the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC (© Lonestar Gooner) with a game (this game) in hand. Our selection is now less predictable than it has been of late which is helpful as the recent predictability of our forward line in particular has made it easier for the likes of Dyche to set up his team to blunt our attack. I was impressed with our performance at Leicester apart from our minimal chance creation but particularly by Trossard’s link play as a false nine (as well as by his beautifully curved but disallowed goal) and also by Jorginho’s control of midfield, his eye for a pass and his progressive passing (that long pass out of our half to Saka running behind the Leicester defence was exquisite and deserved a much better outcome).

Despite Jorginho’s MotM performance I expect Partey, if there is no reaction to his brief cameo against Leicester, to regain his starting position in an attempt to match Everton’s midfield muscle. It will be interesting to see who Arteta chooses to start – could he give Jorginho the Xhala role to shake things up as the Swiss has looked leggy of late? On the other hand, Jorginho could certainly be a very effective addition late in the game if we are trying to see it out. I personally think Trossard has earned his opportunity to reprise his ‘false nine’ role as his ball control, trickery and swift interplay, particularly with Martinelli, should give Everton’s lumbering hulks problems. Towards the end of the Leicester game, I spotted Benjamin White, that very naughty boy, repeatedly rubbing a hamstring so I suspect Tomiyasu may start this game. Hence, barring unexpected problems arising from the Leicester game (thinking especially of the stamp on Martinelli’s knee) I expect to see a starting XI of:


Tomiyasu Saliba Gabriel Zinchenko

Ødegaard Partey Xhaka

Saka Trossard Martinelli

On the basis of our home record against Everton in the Premier League, I’m predicting a 3-1 victory for the Arsenal though I would love another clean sheet and a reprise of the 7-0 from May 2005 would send me into orbit! I expect our players to be determined to make amends for that result at Goodison and Mikel Arteta and Martin Ødegaard said as much this week. I also expect Trossard to be determined to score his second PL goal for the Arsenal to make up for the fine one that was chalked off at the weekend. I don’t know what the odds are on either a 3-1 win or a Trossard goal because this Holic Pound is still going to Ukraine.

This fixture was postponed as a result of HM The Queen’s sudden demise, RIP. Most teams had a single fixture postponed but Arsenal had two matches postponed: the recent home game against the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC and this one.  Thus, this fixture is that longstanding ‘game in hand’ that we’ve had over the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC and most other teams chasing us. We simply have to win it! 

A contributing factor to our defeat at Goodison was the noisy, hostile home crowd. We have to reciprocate at the top of our voices and carry the Arsenal team on a wave of Gooner noise to deliver their maximum performance and another crucial victory. I’ll be there and will be hoarse by half time.


Enjoy the game, Holics.


41 Drinks to “Chew the Toffees Over Again & Spit Them Out”

  1. 1
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    That was an excellent and thoroughly rousing preview, Bath! Cheers!

    “Chew the Toffees Over Again & Spit Them Out“ is a sentiment I eagerly adopt as I brave the winter darkness enroute to the gym.

    I agree your projections, and, with any luck at all, the fervor of the Fortress Emirates, capably led by you and the Ashburton Army, will inspire the lads to overwhelm the Blue Scousers and restore a five point lead over the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC [again, cheers!]

    Enjoy the evening out.



  2. 2
    Esso says:

    Cheers Baff!

  3. 3
    Trev says:

    Great job, Bath !
    A fun fantasy filled frolic it will not be. As you say, Dyche’s Werthermen will use every just about legal trick in the book – and a few illegal ones – to stop us playing and spoil the game. It will be interesting to see if they too get away with roughhousing Bukayo Saka as even the mainstream media are beginning to notice and remark on what an unsanctioned kicking he takes every week. Sorry – every three days !

    Enjoy the game anyway, mate, and here’s hoping you recover quickly from your halftime hoarseness. Spare a thought for Dyche who hasn’t recovered from his for around fifteen years 😉

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    Spot on and to the point, Bath. Your team seems very likely to match Arteta’s.

    Three more points won with no alarms is the order of the day.

    Sing loud and sing hard.

  5. 5
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Bath, 3-1 will do nicely though I’d begrudge them the one.
    Your team could well be right, MA has been talking about more regular
    changes for a couple of weeks now.

  6. 6
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Bath! I like your team, and it is the likeliest. Would be good to see ESR coming off the bench in the second half. He scored a few goals last season as a sub.

    As you mentioned — and so did Mikel in his pre-match presser — the home support will have a big role to play in this match. The team will need it as much as they will need patient to play against the double low blocks and borderline wrestling challenges. I am expecting a goal or two from outside the box. Martin and Xhaka haven’t scored for a while and they are due some goals.

    Come on Arsenal!

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    In non-Arsenal football news, I find the fact that Alaba had to publicly explain himself quite extraordinary. Football fandom can be tribal but the social media ad usual enables the worst proclivities. I also don’t fully get why FIFA actually needs to publish how each country voted

    I also kind of agree with Zlatko Dalic that if any of the “bigger” countries had Croatia’s record in international football more of their players would have been recognised.

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F.@7: Given FIFA’s general opacity, I would applaud the publication of how each national captain, coach and representative journalist (how did John Cross get to be England’ nominated media voter or Douglas Mcintyre for the US?) voted. I only wish that FIFA also published the fan vote in each category, too.

  9. 9
    Ollie says:

    Cheer baff! Let’s get back to winning ways at home this week.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Top ten? I probably will miss the match being on the road so COYG and I will have it recorded for later. viewing.

    Great preview Bath!

  11. 11
    TTG says:

    Fine preview Bath
    At some stage Mikel will have to rotate a little more and a slug of winnable home games is the time . I’m sensing Jorginho could replace Xhaka and if we can get control ( a big if) we can sub off Partey . Id retain Trossard as a false nine .
    Squeaky bum time is well and truly here . We are in the land or low blocks , need to repel set pieces ( which we didn’t at Goodson )and counter-attacks , frustrating misses and hopefully joyful late goals .
    We can really do this . We are in an unbelievable position with a chance to push our title challenge even deeper . Id expected we’d be gearing up for the CL. Something always goes wrong in these situations but Citeh have phenomenal fixture pressure which got worse tonight . Even if we have a string of scrappy 1-0s we will take them like a shot. And it’s a good way to lose weight !

  12. 12
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah I thought the Alaba thing was odd too Dr.F and poor old Alaba looked a bit weaselly as he tried to say the Austrian FA decided not him. I think publishing the votes is just to show how FIFA are committed to openness etc etc etc, cynical stuff but not surprising given their form.

  13. 13
    OsakaMatt says:

    Talking of FIFA, a piece on Emi.

    The awards are, imo, a load of old bollocks as I doubt Argentina would make the top 6 in the PL, though Mr Infantino may disagree😀 but the article was interesting for me anyway.

  14. 14
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    The premise of the Alaba thing is nuts.

    “Why didn’t you just vote for your mate, without ignoring the spirit of this award, ie. To vote for the player you think is best?”

    The idea of a fair and unbiased vote is so laughably missing that people get stick for not blatantly ignoring it. Something is wrong there.

  15. 15
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Baff. Excellent preview.

    You’ve nailed the issues we’ll face, and I’d agree with your team. Let’s hope we can improve our already excellent record against the blue scousers.


  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    Great preview Bath.

    Here’s a great Athletic piece on the Ashburton Army.


  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    Looks like Jakub Kiwior is being trained up as a left-sided Ben White, which could mean KT3 will move on in the summer.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@14: The whole Alaba thing is nuts and confirms the toxicity and irrationality of social media. The players and coaches who get to vote in the FIFA awards are ex-officio as the captain and coach of their national side, one each from every FIFA member association. The only FIFA guidance on voting is that a player or coach cannot vote for himself. If Alaba chooses to regard the vote he casts as being representative of his national team’s collective view rather than a personal vote, more power to him.

  19. 19
    Ollie says:

    What GSD and Ned said.

  20. 20
    Mulerise14 says:

    That’s a refreshing preview Bath…✊
    Hope Tets could surprise ’em…Tomi at left back, Z at LCM and xhaka rested. I love this as this gives us better chance of defending their long balls and at the same time more penetration at their end

  21. 21
    Esso says:

    Word on street is same team as Leicester.

  22. 22
    Esso says:

  23. 23
    Esso says:

    And it is.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    Michael Keane replaces Cody Connor for Everton. Dyche is fielding the full set of his ex-Burnley henchmen.

  25. 25
    Bathgooner says:

    North Bank Upper tonight.


  26. 26
    Esso says:

    Come on you Arsenal!

  27. 27
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great end to the 1st half and 2-0 to The Arsenal!

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Was hoping Ode would get a goal! He’s been looking a little shot-shy recently, not sure why,
    but anyway 3-0 😀

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    4-0 Gabi M! If it wasn’t 6.30 in the morning I’d have started the post match brandy and cigars early and been blowing smoke in Dyche’s stupid face

  30. 30
    Gooner_KS says:

    It’s good the fans reminded us ‘We are top of the league, we are top of the league’

  31. 31
    Esso says:

    Deep joy you Arsenal!

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    5 points clear! Revenge, lots of goals and a clean sheet. What more could you want?

    Spuds being dumped out the cup at home by a championship team would be funny I suppose, but they’re so crap it’s not really a surprise anymore.

  33. 33
    scruzgooner says:

    some great goals in that game, perhaps zin-eddie-gabi nutmegging pickford was my favorite.

    baff, great preview, thanks. and faustus from last game, hell of a job.

    say we are top of the league!

  34. 34
    scruzgooner says:

    and let’s all laugh at tottenham!

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:


  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    Good to see ESR back too.

  37. 37
    Gooner_KS says:


  38. 38
    Ollie says:

    That was enjoyable!

  39. 39
    gedo says:

    Nice not to sweat and be bound up like a pretzel for the entire 90 minutes. Was for the first 40 minutes though….

    I have recruited my 78 year old father onto the bandwagon…his texts to me after the Saka goal were:

    “Zara Zara Zara!”

    “I mean Zaka, Zaka, Zaka!”

    So I have some work to do yet 😉

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    There was a nice sense of rubbing Dyche’s face in it towards the end, but I wouldn’t have minded a couple more goals to narrow the goal difference with City.

  41. 41
    scruzgooner says: