In-form Everton return to Goodison Park after two wins in four days put them back into the top five on Saturday, as former Toffee Mikel Arteta brings his struggling Arsenal side to Merseyside for a tea-time kick-off.
Last weekend saw the return of fans to Goodison for the first time this season thanks to Liverpool being named in a Tier 2 area, and the 2,000 spectators watched on as Carlo Ancelotti downed his former side Chelsea 1-0 thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty.
Arsenal’s week didn’t go so well though, as they picked up just a point from their games against Southampton and Burnley, going down to ten men both times. As a result, both Granit Xhaka and Gabriel will miss out.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did manage to score against Saints, and will be hoping he can kickstart a goal scoring run which is desperately needed if Arsenal are to start moving up the table.
The Gunners will go into the game 15th in the table, with bottom half rivals Fulham and Newcastle playing just after the final whistle goes on Saturday night.
Ancelotti may welcome back Seamus Coleman for the visit of the Gunners, after the Irishman missed the last three games with a thigh injury. The Everton captain was left out of the win over Leicester on Wednesday night as a precaution, so should start, but James Rodriguez is unlikely to return after a calf injury.
Lucas Digne is still missing with an ankle injury and won’t return until the end of January, and will be joined on the sidelines by Allan, who was stretchered off after 41 minutes at the King Power in the week. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph will also miss out.
Arsenal, on top of their suspension worries, will welcome back Hector Bellerin from a ban and have mostly the same group that played against Southampton available, after no new injuries. David Luiz may return after his head injury suffered against Wolves.
Thomas Partey is still out after taking a knock in the defeat to Spurs, while Gabriel Martinelli played 45 minutes of an under-21 game last week and is targeting January as a potential comeback date.
If Everton manage to make it three wins on the spin, they could go as high as second in the table ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures. Arsenal arguably need the win more though, and what better place to get it than somewhere Arteta spent six years as a player.
Everton take on Arsenal at Goodison Park on Saturday, December 19th. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.