Michael Owen has predicated a closely-fought contest between Arsenal and Everton at Goodison Park in the Premier League’s Monday night fixture, a match which is “make-or-break” for home boss Rafa Benitez
But despite Goodison Park turning toxic in recent weeks – with a mass walkout planned and director of football Marcel Brands leaving – Owen has predicated the match to finish 1-1.
Writing in his column for BetVictor , the player-turned pundit explained: “The pressure is well and truly on Rafa Benitez now.
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“Everton’s form is poor but the performance against Liverpool was alarming. They do have a lot of injuries and the sooner they get [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin back the better.
“Mikel Arteta will have been disappointed to leave Old Trafford with nothing. Arsenal were a bit too passive after taking the lead and it will feel like a missed opportunity.
“This feels like a make-or-break game for Rafa Benitez. I don’t think Everton will lose this – I’m going for a 1-1 draw.”
Everton certainly have the edge in recent history, winning both Premier League encounters between the sides last season.
However, the last time the Toffees beat Arsenal three times in a row was back in their heyday of 1986.
Nevertheless, the Gunners have not been victorious from their last three top-flight visits to Goodison Park.
Away manager Arteta spent over six years playing for the Toffees between 2005 and 2011 and comes up against a compatriot in Benitez.
But the Spaniard, who says the atmosphere at Goodison can be “incredible,” has no room for sympathy.
“When you are competing you have to go toe to toe with whoever is in front of you, because they are going to do the same for sure,” the Gunners boss stated.
“I’ve been there in great moments and I can tell you as a player it’s incredible. I haven’t seen what is actually happening, it’s pretty difficult to guess on TV.
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“But I imagine when the crowd is not with the team it’s harder to play.
“You always have empathy because you know internally how much you suffer and in the difficult moments you have to go through that.”
Arteta added: “Talking about Rafa, who I know personally as well, the experience he has and what he’s done in the game is remarkable.
“So he knows much better than me how to handle these sort of situations.We know the qualities he has as a manager.
“He’s shown it here and he’s shown it in other countries.”