Kai Havertz is needed from the start for Arsenal’s Premier League clash against Everton on Sunday afternoon
Everton away has been somewhat of a bogey Premier League fixture for Arsenal in recent years. The Gunners have failed to secure all three points at Goodison Park since a thrilling 5-2 victory back in 2017.
“Of course, I planned it all,” Dyche joked when asked about the set-piece goal following the Toffees’ defeat of Arsenal last term. “We believe in our set-piece set-up, it’s another valuable weapon for the team to use.
It was a great delivery and a great header and I thought we were causing problems with that today.” It is no secret that Dyche and Co. will be focusing on dead ball situations again ahead of the Gunners’ visit to Goodison on Sunday afternoon.
But Arteta can’t be naive, he must combat Everton’s main strength when deciding his starting line-up. There has been a clamour among supporters for Fabio Vieira to replace Kai Havertz for the trip up north but the German international’s aerial ability makes this exactly the kind of game he will be needed in.
The 24-year-old boasted a 57.2% success rate in aerial duels last season, as per fbref, ranking higher than the likes of Tomas Soucek, Harry Maguire and Ivan Toney in this respect. Comparatively, Vieira won just 37.5% of his aerial battles last term, meaning he would likely be a prime target for Everton at set-plays.
It seems like Arteta recognised the importance of physicality too, as evidenced by the fact he also recruited the dominant Declan Rice from West Ham United during the summer transfer window. Back in July, when asked about replacing Granit Xhaka’s physicality with Havertz, the Spaniard replied: “You use a word that is ‘physical’. So if I put Granit and Kai and I ask you who is more physical? What would you say?
“Kai is one metre 91, so it depends what you mean physical. Physical is (also) to run, running behind the forward, to tackle. It depends. So we will fit in with the qualities that we have, that’s for sure.
“The good thing is that we have options as well. When we have a game that is more physical, we can become very physical as well. We have the right options.”
There will be plenty of times this season when Vieira’s creative prowess is needed to unlock a defence but for Sunday’s match, it makes a lot more sense to go with the physical option and play Havertz from the start.