It’s a trip to Merseyside today for the early kick-off against Everton.
We haven’t won there since 2017, when a front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all scored and Ronald Koeman got sacked the next day. Since then, it’s been a difficult trip for us, and today we face what will be a new version of this Everton side – but one that should also be quite familiar.
This will be Sean Dyche’s first game in charge since he replaced Frank Lampard, and based on personnel and previous experience of his Burnley sides, we’re going to face an Everton that will be fired-up, ready for a scrap, and better organized than they were under the previous manager. They’ve got some big lads at the back, some lads up front who will run and chase, and if they play a bit like Newcastle did when we faced them a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Whether they can do it as effectively is another question.
In terms of team news from our perspective, there’s some doubt over Thomas Partey. Mikel Arteta admitted as much at his press conference, after the midfielder went off in the FA Cup tie against Man City. It’s fair to say that he left things hanging a bit as to his potential participation today, saying:
Let’s see – that one is still a doubt. Let’s see today how he comes in and if he’s able to train with the team or not. We will make a decision on that.
He’s not ruled out and it’s nothing very significant but it was significant enough to get him out of the [Manchester City] game, which for Thomas is unusual. Hopefully he will be fine.
As Lewis pointed out on the podcast previews on Patreon, the upcoming Man City game might influence today’s selection. Going into that game without Partey would be a real blow, so if there’s a risk, he might well choose a different option. In Jorginho he has a player he says he’s wanted for a long time, and it’s not as if playing away at Goodison Park would be a new experience for the Italy international – he should be able to slot in without any real trouble. Ideally though, this is Arteta just not giving anything away and Partey is fine.
Beyond that, for this game anyway, it’s hard to envisage any other changes. You don’t bench Gabriel Martinelli after boosting his confidence with a new contract, but you know that if it doesn’t work for him then you’ve Leandro Trossard on the bench. I think the manager will ask his team to just keep doing what they have been doing all season long, and despite the fact Everton have the ingredients with a new manager, early kick-off, and all the rest – if we play anywhere close to our best we have what it takes to take all three points.
It’s also another game where we have something to put right from last season. That late winner from Demarai Gray was a real kicker on a difficult night, especially as just minutes before that goal Eddie Nketiah had a chance to make it 2-1 to us. It left Arteta fuming as we saw on the Amazon doc, and this is a result he and the team will be looking to put right. Not to mention this is a different Nketiah now too. Then, he had a few minutes here and there from the bench to make an impact. Now, regular playing time has seen him develop and improve. I’m sure he’ll be keen to make his mark to make up for last season.
Today, given the kick off time, is also our chance just to put a little pressure on those behind, especially City. It feels like most of this season they’ve played before us (this could be wrong, btw), allowing them to close the gap meaning we have to respond. Three points against Everton would extend our lead at the top to 8 points, which would be a nice place to be ahead of City going to White Hart Lane tomorrow and absolutely destroying Sp*rs.
So, let’s hope this is another one – like the game against Liverpool, like Brentford away, like Palace away, like the derby away – where this team knocks down obstacles of the past and continues its momentum.
As ever, we’ll have live blog coverage for you, and all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News. Catch you in a while.
Come on you reds!