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A glistening Premier League trophy will be ready and waiting at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, where victory for Arsenal over Everton could propel the Gunners to top-flight supremacy.

However, Mikel Arteta’s men are relying on Manchester City to drop points against West Ham United, so some Gooners have already resigned their squad to another second-placed finish.

Perhaps the most abnormal set of circumstances arose for Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fans in midweek, as while Gooners put their rivalry to one side and roared the Lilywhites on against Manchester City, some of a Spurs persuasion were only too happy to see their team come out second best.

The latter troupe got their wish – much to Ange Postecoglou’s chagrin – as City cruised to a 2-0 win in North London, thereby bumping Arsenal down to second place in the Premier League table with a two-point disadvantage heading into the final day, meaning that whatever Arteta’s men do on Sunday may not be enough to end their 20-year top-flight drought.

The North London troupe can at least cling onto their marginally superior goal difference, meaning that victory over Everton coupled with Man City drawing with West Ham would seal stardom, and the Gunners’ iconic 1988-89 team were the last side to win the top flight after starting the final day below first place.

Edging out Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford temporarily kept the Gunners at the head of the pack before Man City made full use of their match in hand, but unlike the capitulation of 2022-23, Arsenal have taken this title scrap right to the wire in another sign of serious progression – both technically and mentally – under Arteta’s watchful eye.

The beating of Man United represented a fifth Premier League success on the bounce for the North London giants, who have kept clean sheets in four of those matches and should at least end the campaign as the meanest defence in England, even if the top prize eludes them.

Furthermore, a club record has already been set for the title outsiders in the Premier League era, as 27 wins is more than any of their previous iterations managed – even the Invincibles only accrued 26 – and not since 1930-31 have the hosts achieved more in one campaign.

The 1-0 survival-clinching win over Brentford on April 24 represents the third match in a five-game unbeaten sequence for the Toffees, who have accrued an impressive 13 points from 15 on offer in that time, most recently eking out a one-goal success over Sheffield United courtesy of Abdoulaye Doucoure’s header.

The visitors’ 15th-placed ranking is the highest that they can finish, while Brentford – who sit just one point worse off – can demote Dyche’s troops to 16th on the final day, not that the Goodison Park faithful will be losing any sleep with their perpetual Premier League status already assured.

However, Toffees fans may have had a few nightmares about their side’s shoddy away form in 2024, as for all of their exceptional Goodison exploits, Everton are on a 10-game winless run on the road in the top flight and have lost 14 final-day fixtures, more than any other Premier League team.

There are a few parallels to Sunday’s game for Everton, who coincidentally travelled to Arsenal on the final day of the 2021-22 season shortly after securing their survival, but they were blown to smithereens 5-1 that day and have lost both of their last two against the Gunners without scoring, offering Arteta and co the tiniest sliver of title hope.

Another Arsenal game, another instance of Bukayo Saka limping off the pitch, as the 22-year-old crashed into the advertising hoardings at Old Trafford and had to be withdrawn on the 82-minute mark, but that knock should not prevent him from reprising his usual right-wing role here – he has been spotted with the squad.

However, it remains to be seen whether long-term ACL absentee Jurrien Timber will be considered for any minutes, as despite making his return to competitive action for the Under-21s, he was not selected for the matchday squads against Tottenham Hotspur, Bournemouth or Man United.

As a result, Takehiro Tomiyasu will continue to hold the fort as Arteta’s first-choice left-back for the time being, and the Japan international should form part of an unchanged starting XI for the fifth match in a row.

Barring any late surprises, another 90 minutes for William Saliba will see the Frenchman become the first-ever outfield Arsenal player to play every single minute of a Premier League campaign.

Meanwhile, Everton were moments away from coming out of their win over Sheffield United unscathed, but in second-half injury time, luckless midfielder Andre Gomes took a bang to the face and is now a doubt for the trip to the Emirates.

While Gomes could be passed fit, Dyche is without a quartet of players in Dele Alli (groin), Vitaliy Mykolenko (ankle), Jack Harrison (hamstring) and Nathan Patterson (thigh), and the latter’s injury has also scuppered his hopes of playing for Scotland at Euro 2024.

Up-and-coming prospects such as Lewis Dobbin, Chermiti and Lewis Warrington – who made his Premier League debut off the bench as Gomes’s replacement last weekend – ought to come into Dyche’s thinking at some point this weekend, but the Toffees boss should stick with a senior selection from the off given the calibre of opposition.

Everton’s praiseworthy performances at Goodison Park have not translated into prowess on their travels, and Dyche’s crop should put up little resistance against an Arsenal side destined to hit the 89-point mark.

A routine end-of-season victory should come the Gunners’ way in front of their own fans, albeit one that is unlikely to be enough to forestall Man City’s four-in-a-row.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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