Arsenal's trip to Liverpool is going to have a bit more importance after a disappointing loss in Manchester. Losing to Manchester United always sucks, but losing to a Manchester United team that is far from their best, with unforced errors really stings.
Arsenal are in a weird spot where they are in a better spot than they were last season after the same number of fixtures but trailing on picking up points for the same fixtures.
This round started the good form that Arsenal had last year (round 15 was boxing day) and this match was also one that Arsenal lost, giving Arsenal a chance to close the gap on the corresponding fixtures. If Arsenal are going to improve on their 61 points from last year it is always nice to have a measuring stick on where they got points last season.
Everton will also be desperate to get something from this. Their form is atrocious over their last 11 matches in all competitions they have just 5 points and have gone, 1 W, 2 D, 8 L. After starting the season well (they were in 4th place in the middle of September) they have dropped to 15th place. Since the middle of September (10 matches) they have had the worst points accumulation of any team.
The short of things is that both teams will really want points in this match and it could end up being an ugly affair.
Everton Team Radars
Overall Everton come into this match rated as the 16th best team in the Premier League, where they are in the table is not a fluke. My rating system has them with the 13th best attack and the 16th best defense. So on paper Arsenal should be the better team (6th overall, 7th best attack, 9th best defense).
The Everton Attack
Everton have not been prolific in shot creation. They rank 11th in non-penatly expected goals this season.
They are heavily dependent on their right side for creating threat with the Seamus Coleman and Andros Townsend combo being towards the top in progressive passes and deep completions.
In build-up, Abdoulaye Doucoure is the main hub but not the main man in actually getting the ball up the field, with Allan taking on a bigger role there. Former Arsenal man Alex Iwobi is playing the connector role where he does a bit of everything to get the ball into the attackers.
Out of possession Everton are an active defense with the second most tackles per match and third most interceptions but not one that presses high with the third-lowest pressing by passes allowed per defensive actions (PPDA) and 10th in attacking third pressures.
Where Everton do look to challenge the ball is in the middle and defensive thirds. Looking at the heat map of their defensive actions, they look like they do not engage until teams approach the midfield line.
Players of note
Iwobi continues to do Iwobi type things. He doesn't put up flashy scoresheet numbers but I still think that he does important things to help a team's attack.
Lastly, it is looking at the 3 forwards that Benitez will have to choose from (or perhaps play all three). Townsend looks to be having the best overall season but Richarlison is still in my mind the best player.
I don't think it should be a surprise after looking at everything above to see that Arsenal are favorites in this match.
Arsenal haven't played well (to be more accurate they have played incredibly inconsistent with some good performances and some really bad performances) but Everton have been even worse.
My model is again in the middle ground between the betting market and FiveThirtyEight on Arsenal's chances of winning, with the betting markets implying Arsenal win 46% of the time and FiveThirtyEight giving Arsenal a 42% chance of winning.
I think that this feels right. This is a really good chance for Arsenal to get away points, pick up points that were dropped last year, while staying in touching distance of the top 4 race (the other results make getting a win here even more important).