Arsenal Facing Another Nightmare Before Christmas

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Mikel Arteta's time at Arsenal could be running out and he faces a tricky trip to former club Everton on Saturday teatime.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

There’s no sign of any festive cheer at Arsenal after their worst start to a season in 42 years and they face another difficult 90 minutes when they travel to Everton on Saturday teatime.

The Gunners are currently trapped living through the horror that is the ghost of Christmas present and with very few, if any, signs of them committing to changing their ways. A 1-1 draw with Southampton in midweek at least ended a run of four straight home defeats but did little to ease doubts over the future of Mikel Arteta as head coach.

The Spaniard has this week received the backing of the Arsenal hierarchy but with the team sat in 15th and facing a pivotal run of matches, starting with the game at Everton, the clock could be ticking on Arteta’s reign as he prepares to mark a year in charge this weekend.

Credit in the Bank Running Out for Arteta

The gloss of August’s FA Cup success has vanished from Arsenal, as have the goals, the north London outfit netting three times in their last nine Premier League outings. They might not get much joy out of an Everton defence which has finally tightened up at the back, keeping back-to-back clean sheets in their victories of Chelsea and Leicester.

The Toffees look to have recovered from the dip in form which had undone some of the good work done at the start of the season and are 8/5 to make it three wins on the spin at the expense of Arsenal.

The Gunners are missing arguably their best defender in Gabriel, who was sent off against Southampton and could be exposed by an Everton side averaging over two goals a game at home this season.

Carlo Ancelotti is without key trio Allan, Lucas Digne and James Rodriguez but Everton still appeal at the price available, while they are 3/1 to win to zero.

St Mary’s Scoring at a Premium

Unlike the rest of the nation, Southampton fans might not want 2020 to end after an excellent year on the pitch, resulting in them sat in third ahead of the visit of Manchester City.

In a run stretching back to June, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have lost just three of their last 20 Premier League outings. That sequence of results includes a 1-0 victory over City at St Mary’s and they are 21/4 to repeat that success on Saturday.

They had to defend for their lives that day but this latest encounter promises to be a more even affair with City struggling to open up teams, as demonstrated in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.

Pep Guardiola’s men have netted just 18 times in the league, the second-lowest total of any top-10 side, and look unlikely to have Sergio Aguero available for this game.

It isn’t all bad for the visitors though as they have managed to tighten up at the back, keeping five clean sheets in their last six away matches.

With Southampton shutting out visitors to St Mary’s in four of their six home matches this season, it could prove a tight game with under 2.5 goals at 13/10.

Tired Magpies Offer Fulham Hope

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce admitted this week that the Covid outbreak that saw their game with Aston Villa postponed earlier this month is continuing to have a significant effect on his squad.

The Magpies have looked low on energy in their two outings since returning to action, most notably on Wednesday night when Leeds scored three times in the final 15 minutes to condemn Bruce’s men to a 5-2 defeat.

Fulham will hope they can outlast Newcastle when they visit St James’ Park on Saturday evening with Scott Parker’s side having found their feet in recent weeks.

Five points from the last four matches means the Cottagers could escape the bottom three with a win on Tyneside.

However, with Newcastle winning four of their six home games so far this season and Fulham having won one of last 25 Premier League matches in December, it might be better to err on the side of caution with the draw at 9/4 and both teams to score is 10/11.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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