But never mind all that, because here’s Charles Antaki to pour oil over troubled waters. “Ah! The comforts of looking forward to a somnolent evening of two pleasingly traditional clubs playing out a (less pleasingly) meaningless mid-table fixture. Yes, I know about Arsenal’s involvement in the recent unpleasantness; but let us draw at least a temporary veil over that while the lads go about their business to the distant traditional shouts of Sack the Board.” Tell you what, it’s going to be strange going back to the sports-centre squeaky-shoe ambience of the empty Emirates after hearing fans giving “We want our Arsenal back” plenty outside.

Tonight’s protest in numbers.

A bit more on the old protests. There were plenty of anti-Kroenke banners, plus an effigy of the Arsenal owner hung from a lamppost. One protester fell off the roof of the box office, and was taken away on a stretcher after hurting his face, but there were no other reported incidents. A group of bobbies milled about, although they didn’t appear too energised. Plans to block both team buses were nixed as Arsenal arrived earlier than normal, while Everton crossed a bridge on the opposite side of the stadium. Anyway, solidarity to one and all, salary caps now, enforce 50+1, etc.

Arsenal were seconds away from losing at home to Fulham for the first time in their history last weekend, so six changes seem about right. In come Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah. Mat Ryan, Hector Bellerin, Gabriel, Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Martinelli drop to the bench, while Alexandre Lacazette is ill.

Everton make three changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Spurs this time last week. Seamus Coleman, Andre Gomes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin take the places of the benched Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi, and Michael Keane, who is missing altogether. Injured? We’ll find out soon enough, although he was hapless enough last Friday at Goodison to warrant being dropped.

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Pablo Mari, Xhaka, Partey, Ceballos, Pepe, Smith-Rowe, Saka, Nketiah.
Subs: Bellerin, Gabriel, Odegaard, Willian, Cedric, Nelson, Elneny, Ryan, Martinelli.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Godfrey, Holgate, Digne, Rodriguez, Allan, Andre Gomes, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson.
Subs: Delph, King, Mina, Iwobi, Nkounkou, Bernard, Davies, Olsen, Broadhead.

Some pre-team-news news: Arsenal fans have gathered outside the stadium to protest peacefully against the club’s role in the risible European Super League fiasco. In particular, they’re giving owner Stan Kroenke the good old what-for.

There are a few pointers which suggest Arsenal are favourites tonight for the win that would see them leapfrog opponents Everton into eighth place in the Premier League table. They’re unbeaten in their last 24 home league games against Everton. They’ve only lost two of their last 12 in all competitions, winning half a dozen, while Everton have taken just three points from their last 15, and haven’t won in six. This will be the 200th top-flight meeting between these famous old clubs, and the Gunners have won one in every two, give or take a fraction, the highest total of any team against another. They’re good for this.

On the other hand, you could argue that this is Everton’s moment. They won 2-1 at Goodison back in December, so have a chance to complete their first league double against the Arsenal since 1986. They may welcome back Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Meanwhile Arsenal will be without Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney and possibly Martin Odegaard. Also, Everton’s incentive to win is surely a little greater; they’re still just about within realistic reach of the top four, if they can summon a strong finish, while Arsenal are surely already out of it, even if they prevail tonight.

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