Deulofeu must keep starting if Everton harbour top-four hope

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It may have taken until March, but Gerard Deulofeu has finally started successive games for Everton.

The away victories over Newcastle and Fulham have taken Everton to within four points of the Champions League places and they still have a game in hand – at home to Crystal Palace – on fourth-placed Arsenal.

Deulofeu has now started six Premier League games for Everton and all of these have ended in victory, which suggests that Roberto Martinez doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist, or even a street sweeper, to identify the strategy needed to keep the Toffees winning.

With Arsenal visiting Goodison Park next in the Premier League, Everton’s hopes of joining Europe’s top table remains in their own hands, as victories in their last seven games will guarantee them a top-four finish.

Everton are 7/2 to finish in the top four this season, with Arsenal heavily fancied to repel their challenge at 1/7.

Although Deulofeu does hold onto the ball for too long at times and has been known to shirk his defensive duties, few could argue that his trickery adds another dimension to his team’s attacking threat.

It is no surprise that Everton have scored at least three times in four of the young Spaniard’s six starts and with Arsenal leaking goals at an alarming rate in away clashes with their Champions League-challenging rivals, he simply has to start against the Gunners.

Martinez has been rotating Deulofeu with Kevin Mirallas in recent weeks, but with Ross Barkley forced off at half time in the Fulham triumph, both could start against Arsenal.

Everton are favourites to beat Arsenal at 7/5, while 4/1 could prove a monster price on Martinez’ men netting over 2.5 goals, especially if Deulofeu is picked from the off.

Arsenal have conceded 17 goals across their away trips to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.