Ramsey in and Mirallas out: The real factor that will decide fourth spot
Three goals in Everton’s last four games following a drought of over a month suggested that Kevin Mirallas was about to embark on the kind of end-of-season scoring streak synonymous with Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg in earlier Premier League campaigns.
Everton may have strength in depth in the wide-forward positions, but losing Mirallas for the remainder of the season to a groin tear is a blow to their chances.
Although not as tricky as Gerard Deulofeu and Aiden McGeady with the ball, Mirallas is arguably more of a threat without it, regularly breaking in behind from deep if defenders are drawn up the pitch.
The Belgian forward is also slightly ahead of the above-mentioned duo defensively, in terms of quickly getting back into position to prevent his full-back being exploited.
With three games remaining, Everton are a point behind Arsenal in the race for fourth spot and are available at 4/1 to finish in the top four.
However, as they have lost one of their chief attacking outlets, Arsenal can once again call upon one of theirs, after almost three months to recharge his batteries.
In his first start of 2014, Aaron Ramsey scored one and assisted two others in the 3-0 victory at Hull and the Gunners have sorely been lacking his energy from midfield.
Similar to Mirallas, but from a more central position, what Ramsey offers Arsene Wenger, unlike the majority of his teammates who play in a similar role, is an ability to get beyond the striker to present an extra attacking problem.
Without Ramsey and Theo Walcott for the majority of 2014, Arsenal have found life tough getting players in advance of Olivier Giroud, who is at his best dropping deeper to link play.
Arsenal are far stronger with Ramsey and they must be considered much tougher to oppose now at 1/6 to finish in the top four, with Newcastle and West Brom left to visit the Emirates, alongside a trip to Norwich.
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