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Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Everton

Aug 23, 2014, 2:52 AM EDT

tim_howard Getty Images

The main event of Premier League Saturday takes place at Goodison Park, where an Arsenal team that got its season off to a victorious start returns to Everton, where the Gunners lost 3-0 last season. Coming off a draw at Leicester, the Toffees will be looking to repeat last April’s feat for their first win of the season, one that would vindicate the brave few who’ve picked the Blues to crack the top four.

Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC, with the match also available to stream live via NBC Sports Live Extra.

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For Everton, the match presents an opportunity to build on an opening weekend that saw Roberto Martínez’s men take two leads King Power Stadium. Each time, however, the Foxes fought back, forcing the Toffees to settle for a 2-2 draw. While Martínez was complementary of his team’s performance, he also noted the need to make more of just under 60 pct. possession they had against Leicester.

For Arsenal, the season got off to a rocky start, giving up a goal at home to Crystal Palace 34 minutes into the campaign. Laurent Koscielny provided the response, but it wasn’t until the 90th minute that Aaron Ramsey secured full points for the Gunners. The 2-1 result has Arsenal third after round one, but the close call against a weak opponent leaves room to improve.

Both teams, facing their first major tests of the season, will need more on Saturday. And between two squads that bear striking resemblances to last year’s teams, the Gunners will be looking for a measure of redemption.

What they’re saying

Everton manager Roberto Martínez: “What we have in our favor is that we are still hurt after dropping two points at the weekend. I like that. It shows our standards and that we don’t accept second best.”

Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger: “Everton was a low point last season, yes. In the quality of our performance, and even more than that in mental resistance, the mental steel on the day. That was one of our low points.”

Prediction

That Apr. 9 loss wasn’t the only time Arsenal had trouble with Everton. Though they posted an impressive win over the Toffees in the FA Cup, the Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw in the teams’ first meeting of the season (Dec. 8 at the Emirates).

Even in that FA Cup win, three of Arsenal’s four goals came in the last 23 minutes. If that stretch proves an aberration — if Wenger hasn’t quite figured out Martínez — we should see another Everton win at home. 2-1, Toffees.

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