By Jonty Banks

3rd Feb, 2023 | 4:40pm

Martin Keown: Sean Dyche and Everton have nothing to lose against Arsenal in Premier League

Martin Keown believes Arsenal are the best possible opponent for Sean Dyche to face in his first game as Everton manager, and his side will relish the opportunity to cause an upset, he told talkSPORT.

Dyche is set to take charge of his first Premier League fixture as Everton manager when he hosts Mikel Arteta’s side at Goodison Park on Saturday (4 February).

The Toffees are currently sitting 19th in the Premier League with just 15 points and haven’t won a league game since defeating Crystal Palace 3-0 in mid-October.

And although they face the Gunners – who have lost just one game all season – Keown admitted on White and Jordan’s talkSPORT show (Friday 3 February) that the Toffees will relish their underdog status.

“I think it’s the best opponent for Everton because there’s nothing to lose,” he said.

“And I’ve looked at the Everton games recently, Jim [White], and if you look at it, they give the ball away far too cheaply in midfield. The back two – you’ve got Conor Coady and Tarkowski – and they’re two big characters, but they drop far too deep far too quickly.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“They give too much space and time, no pressure on the ball, and they’re conceding a lot of goals from distance and they just need to push up and get into people’s faces.

“You’ve seen the players doing bleep tests, so there’s a message that he [Sean Dyche] wants to change the culture you know, it’s been well publicized.

“Is it propaganda? It’s kind of sending a message I’m in charge. I’m gonna challenge you. You’re gonna have to work hard, and everybody will be in the faces of those Arsenal players. So therefore, it’s a difficult game for Arsenal.

New manager bounce

If ever a manager was going to instigate an instant response from his side, it would be Sean Dyche.

Everton are in good hands with the ex-Burnley boss, and he definitely won’t be afraid to tell the players some hard truths in the first few weeks of his tenure. If the Toffees want to escape from the quagmire their currently slipping into, a manager of Dyche’s ilk was the only way forward.

The Englishman will take things back to basics. Defend in an organised manner, keep a compact shape and give your all for the badge every week.

At the end of the day, every Everton fan knows that the first-team squad lacks quality in certain areas, but if they see their side given 110% on a weekend, they really can’t complain.

Opening matches don’t come much harder than Arsenal, but you can’t help but feel Keown has a point here. Every Everton player will be fighting for a prominent spot in Dyche’s new era, and this could help them grind out a result against the league leaders.