Gabriel on belief, Raya and Rice

After 10 months and 37 matches, the 2023/24 campaign concludes with us still having a chance of becoming Premier League champions for the first time in 20 years.

The maths is simple –  a win for ourselves must be coupled with Manchester City dropping points at home to West Ham United for us to lift the title, and thus become the first team in 35 years to start the final day off top spot but still seize the silverware.

Whatever happens, history has been made. Our 27 Premier League victories is a new club record, and 89 league goals haven’t been bettered since 1963/64. A win over the Toffees would be our 35th from 52 games in all competitions, handing us an unmatched 67.3 win percentage and moving us to 89 points – one off our biggest haul.

We also have the best defensive record and the biggest goal difference, but should results go our way, a statistically brilliant season can be validated with the numbers that matter most – first place and a 14th English league championship.

Drop avoided despite deductions

A turbulent campaign for Sean Dyche’s team is finishing with a flourish, as they have lost just one of their last eight games to beat the drop again – this time made more impressive with games to spare and having eight points deducted for breaching profit and sustainability rules.

Their 70-year stay in the top-flight was under serious threat, with sanctions hanging over their head and a points appeal ongoing amidst a 13-game winless run. However victories on and off the pitch saw them haul themselves out of the relegation zone in February and up to 15th spot heading into the final day, 14 points above the drop zone.

The hallmarks of Dyche are all over this Toffees team, and only ourselves have kept more clean sheets than their 13 this term. They recorded their first home Merseyside derby win over Liverpool since 2010 three weeks ago, but they haven’t been great travellers in 2024, as they are winless in their last 11 away games, failing to score more than once in any of those.

What the managers say

Arteta: “We are in the last day of the season playing for the Premier League. The Premier League trophy hasn’t been at Emirates Stadium and that was built almost 20 years ago, so that’s a long, long time. So yes, we have to be very optimistic. We have to do our duties, and then we have to wait and see what happens.

“We have to do our job which is going to be tough because Everton are in a really good moment, so we’re going have to prove again that we can be better than the opponent and win the game. Then we have to wish for the best and for West Ham to have a really good day and help us to fulfil our dream.” – read every word from Mikel’s pre-match press conference

Dyche: “I’m not bothered with [the title race]. It’s more about us continuing the thought process and mentality we’ve put in place this season. We’re on a good show of form for our own reasons and it’s about keeping that mentality going into the final game. It’s more focusing on us going and performing.

“It’ll be very difficult. The way [Arsenal] have performed and grown as the season’s gone on, they’re a top side. Currently there’s another top side who are doing just as good, if not a slightly better job – as the league table would suggest. They’re having a great season.”

Team news

Mikel Arteta’s only injury worry surrounds Bukayo Saka who picked up a knock colliding with the advertising boards at Old Trafford, and was forced off, while it remains to be seen if Jurrien Timber is fit enough to make the matchday squad.

The only concern for Dyche concerns Andre Gomes who suffered a facial injury towards the end of his side’s 1-0 win against Sheffield United last weekend.

Jack Harrison will miss out after pulling a hamstring in training last week, and joins Vitalii Mykolenko (ankle), Nathan Patterson (hamstring) and Dele Alli (groin) in starting their summer break early.

Talking tactics

Adrian Clarke, writing in the matchday programme: Everton’s simple but effective style of play is unashamedly old school. Dyche demands great industry, competitiveness and a solid defensive shape, while they love to throw crosses into the danger zone.

For most of this campaign they’ve used a 4-4-1-1, and out of possession drop into a 4-5-1. In open play Everton have conceded just 26 goals in 37 matches; only Liverpool and ourselves have conceded less. The Toffees will be very direct – no one plays more long passes per game – and incredibly aggressive. They rank second for the most tackles won and third for the most ball recoveries, with two of Idrissa Gueye, James Garner or Amadou Onana scurrying around the engine room trying to congest space.

They are also exceptionally strong from set pieces. Dyche has assembled a very tall side, and aerial power is a real strong suit for Everton. No team has won more aerial duels this term, with Jarrad Branthwaite and James Tarkowski dominant at the back, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin a master at timing his jumps to perfection inside the opposition half. It will be important for us to try and stop Everton from aiming long passes or crosses towards the frontman.

However finishing has been Everton’s Achilles heel all season long. Their expected goals tally currently stands at 54.28, but the reality is that they have only scored 39. The Merseysiders have the lowest chance conversion rate in the division, a measly 10 per cent, and for big chances they rank 19th, tucking away only 30 per cent of those clear-cut opportunities.

Facts and stats

We have lost just one of our last 27 Premier League home games against Everton. We’ve beaten them three times on the final day in this spell (4-3 in 2001/02, 3-1 in 2016/17 and 5-1 in 2021/22).

We could record our first league double over the Toffees since 2017/18.

We have won 101 league games against Everton, the most one side has beaten another in English league history.

Excluding penalties, we have scored 22 set-piece goals this season (Everton second, 18), with 16 coming from corners – a joint record in a single Premier League campaign.

We have won our final Premier League game more often than any other side, 22, including the last 12 in a row. We’ve not lost our final game when playing at home since 1992/93.

No side have lost their final game of the Premier League season more often than Everton (14).

We have won all four of our final league games of the season under Mikel Arteta, the joint-best 100 per cent win rate in matches played on the final day by a manager in the competition’s history, along with Chris Coleman.

Gabriel Jesus has scored five Premier League goals on MD38, the most of any player currently playing in the competition. The Brazilian also has more Premier League goals against Everton than he does against any other opponent (8).

Sean Dyche has won just two of his 17 league encounters with us. He’s only lost more top-flight matches against Man City (14).

Match officials

Having started the Premier League campaign at Emirates Stadium, Michael Oliver will end it at our home. He is in charge of us for the sixth time this term, and oversaw the north London derby three weeks ago. We have won four of the previous five matches, although he has awarded penalties to West Ham and Spurs and sent off Fabio Vieira against Burnley in his last three Gunners games.

Oliver took charge of this exact fixture in 2022/23 when we ran out 4-0 victors, but he has been a lucky omen for the Toffees this season, as they have won three and drawn once in his four appointments, including a crucial 1-0 success over Burnley last month.

Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook
Fourth official: Josh Smith
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Nick Greenhalgh

Recent visits from Everton

The Toffees haven’t enjoyed their trips to Emirates Stadium and Highbury over the past three decades, having only won one of their last 27 trips to our patch, which came in April 2021 when a Bernt Leno own goal settled the game.

Last season saw us cruise to a 4-0 success in March 2023, as a Gabriel Martinelli brace was added to by a Bukyao Saka blast and a Martin Odegaard finish to seal a convincing win. The two teams met on the final day two seasons ago, when another four-goal winning margin was recorded when Martinelli and Odegaard were on target again in a 5-1 success, and Eddie Nketiah, Cedric and Gabriel also netted.

That was one of 12 occasions we have netted more than four goals against Everton in the Premier League. In fact, we have scored 122 goals in the competition against the Toffees – a competition record.

Watch six classic home wins against Everton, including a certain championship clincher…

Live coverage

To round off an incredible season, the Breakdown Live will be online 90 minutes before kick-off to bring you all the best build up to the season finale.

Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be joined by former Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah to reflect on season, while Sharky will also drop by to give his views. Our Minute to Win It champion Theo Walcott will claims his prize, while Nick and Adrian dish out more accolades in the Breakdown Live awards.

Live commentary of the all-important game comes from Dan Roebuck and Nigel Winterburn, and then regardless of what happens during the 90 minutes, the post-match show will feature some of our first-team squad giving their views on the game.

You can also find out which broadcasters are showing the action live wherever you are in the world.

Copyright 2024 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

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