By Josh Powell | Arsenal v Everton, 7.45pm, Sky Sports 2
The Emirates hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Everton. That could be down to the intense atmosphere, the bellowing noise in the stadium or the intimidating nature of the corporate seats. Realistically though, Everton’s record away to Arsenal was pretty woeful long before the Gunners swapped Highbury for the library, and it might not improve too much tonight.
The last time Everton beat Arsenal away from Goodison Park was in January 1996. Two-time Premier League medal winner Andrei Kanchelskis spanked in the winner from 20 yards after the Toffees had fallen behind. For all you trivia junkies out there, heavyweight Neville Southall spent the first three minutes of that game wearing an FC Cologne goalkeepers jersey before the kit-man found his Everton top. Completely useless information that one day might win you some weird glances and a pinch of respect from your peers in a pub quiz. Mostly weird glances.
Since 1996 Everton have played Arsenal away 17 times, drawing twice and losing on 15 occasions. That’s just two points from a possible 51 in a run of results that included two 4-1 beatings and a 7-0 annihilation.
The history is pointing to an Arsenal win and the Gunners are 4/5 to duly oblige. A tempting price for some people but a touch short for those punters with a niggling feeling that Arsene Wenger’s side are only ever two minutes away from an almighty balls up. Throwing a 2-0 lead away at home to Fulham, losing to Swansea and Norwich and drawing to Aston Villa have provided plenty of ammunition to the anti-Wenger brigade. Everton are 7/2 to break the recent trends and it is 13/5 to end all square and not do anyone’s top four hopes too many favours.
There’s a decent sized carrot dangling in front of punters looking at backing goals in the game. On average in those 17 games since Everton won, the first goal has been scored in the 22nd minute. This season the first goal in Everton’s away games has been on average in the 18th minute and at the Emirates fans have to wait until the 31st minute to see the first goal of the game. It is 9/2 that the deadlock is broken between the 21st and 30th minute.
Since 1996, 69 per cent of league games between these sides have featured over 2.5 goals (8/13) and 65 per cent have featured at least one goal after the 75th minute mark (10/11). The odds are skinnier than a smokin’ hot supermodel but goals should be easy to come by in tonight’s encounter.