Tonight's Merseyside Derby is probably one of the least malicious local Derbies in Britain in terms of fanfare and atmosphere. You won't see anywhere near the levels of hate that comes with Rangers v Celtic, United v Leeds, Chelsea v West Ham, Brighton v Palace etc etc. Opposition fans mix with each other, there's less psychological warfare in the media (but perpetuated by managerial press conferences) and as a result, whilst the atmosphere at Goodison will be raucous, it isn't one of hatred that will cause any kind of nervous feeling amongst the Liverpool team.
The reasons why Liverpool might not adhere to their odds-on superiority in this game are footballing ones. Liverpool have a significantly worse win percentage without Countinho. Further, Firmino's influence on games is diminished when Countinho doesn't play due to Firmino now becoming more of a focus for the opposition manager's defensive strategy. Origi will keep his place up top in an unchanged team, but doesn't inspire enough confidence to be backed to score anytime for me personally at odds of 2.8 (9/5). I would personally favour Lukaku AGS at 3.0 (2/1)
Everton are poor at the back as highlighted in my write up of Everton v Arsenal. However, they will be buoyed by a resolute display last time out. This is the sort of game I would have expect Jagielka to put in an increasingly rare good performance. His suspension means Funes Mori will partner Williams at centre half and Everton will be weaker today because of it.
In regards to Liverpool's defence, Matip was poor in his comeback game against West Ham, making a mistake that led to a goal. Perhaps he was not fully fit and there are he hasn't passed a fitness test for this game. My contact on the ground said he was not seen arriving into their hotel after training today at 1pm. Emre Can was however.
Whilst a 0-0 can't be completely ruled out, both teams have scored in 80% of their lat 20 respective home and away matches. The last 4 Merseyside derbies at Goodison Park have all ended in draws, with one of those being a scoreless draw.
Everton are unbeaten at home (4-4-0) versus Liverpool's 5-2-2 away record. However, you can't place too much emphasis on Liverpool's travelling win ratio due to the geographical proximity of Goodison Park to Anfield and Melwood Park (their training ground). Further, slightly more so than other derbies, statistic prove that previous form doesn't correlate highly to said result on the day in this match.
Both teams to score and a draw at 4.75(15/4) is a bet I really like. However, for even more value, I do like the 0-0 and 1-1 correct score options.
The safer option is Everton double chance at 2.10 (11/10) or a draw at 3.75 (11/4).
Personally I'm backing only the 2 bets below. I'm hoping they will at least give me a run for my money despite the ignorable fact that Liverpool have a better team and better manager. Wisely Koeman has opted for mobility in midfield with McCarthy retaining his place instead of Barry, to allow for a higher number of yards to be covered in the game to press Liverpool's first touch and space more, rather than only covering areas by 'protective positioning' in relation to their own centre halves.
0.5 points on Everton v Liverpool to be 1-1 @7.5 (13/2) (WillHill,PaddyPower,Betstars)
0.5 points on Everton v Liverpool to be 2-2 @15.0 (14/1) (WillHill, 365)
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Everton host Arsenal in an intriguing midweek Premier League clash at Goodison Park tonight. The Toffees aren't on the greatest run of form, but still sit 9th with a 5-5-5 record this season. Arsenal (10-4-1) know a win will take them top of the league, at least for 24 hours.
For those that listened to our podcast, where we highlighted the value on Arsenal -1.5 goals (Asian Handicap) vs Stoke, we note that Arsenal have won 8 out of their last 10 matches versus middle third placed team. In their last 10 matches, half of those have resulted in Arsenal clearing a -1.5 goal handicap. Further, the fact Everton have lost 6 out of their last 8 home matches to top 6 teams further emphasises that the stats all support an Arsenal victory.
However, my mum's neighbour's dog sitter's aunty could have told you that an Arsenal win is probably the most likely outcome. Indeed the bookmakers have priced them a shade under evens at 1.95 (20/21). If you think Arsenal will win, then that is value.
I wouldn't say there's a banker in this game, but given Everton's record of scoring against top half teams, and the fact that Sanchez, The Ox, Walcott and Ozil are all playing towards the top of their game, Both Teams To Score at 1.67 (4/6) can land. Everton have scored in their last 4 home games. Arsenal have scored in their last 10 away games. BTTS has landed 6 out of the last 9 Everton v Arsenal matches at Goodison.
In support of this bet, Ashley Williams legs seemed to go towards the end of last season, and bandwagon pundits whom don't analyse games properly, failed to highlight his below-par performances for Wales in the Euros. Further, he has been sluggish and jointly responsibly for goals conceded in Everton's recent matches. For Everton to get anything from this game, Williams, Coleman and Baines will all need to raise their performance level. Their manager Ronald Koeman adopts the approach of telling his players straight -a stark contrast to the overwhelming positivity of Roberto Martinez.
Shkodran Mustafi won't play against his old club today due to a hamstring injury and his replacement Gabriel doesn't inspire confident in Koscielny. Any of you whom understand the centre back position will realise that even at the professional level, if you aren't fully confident in your partner, you are more likely (consciously or not) to be positioned closer to your partner on an average basis throughout the game. Further, you spend mental energy trying to second guess whether he might make a mistake or be beaten by a particular player in a certain position on the pitch. Consequently you tend to lose more of your own one-on-one duels with the player you are marking. Whilst Kosc is one of the best centre back in the division, this psychological phenomena is not beyond him.
But who will score?
No doubt some of you reprobates like a dabble on the Anytime Goalscorer market. Romelu Lukaku is the sort of player who can score in bursts of games, and is a good price at 2.80 to score tonight. He looked reasonably sharp against Watford, scoring with his right foot and head. However, reading between the lines of his post-match comments, I would caution that psychologically he isn't very motivated at the moment. He has scored in 6 of his 13 Premier League games this season. That's statistically more regular than the odds on offer, so could be worth a small wager.
Alexis Sanchez has been well backed, but do people realise he has only scored in 5 out of 14 Premier League starts this season? His high number of goals is due to multiple goals in one match. Statistically he scores in 35.7% of Premier League games this season, but the odds of evens generously give him a 50% chance of scoring today. For that reason, despite the likelihood, this bet is NOT value.
Arsenal have let too many punters down in this position before. Their early qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League has meant the typical November decline has been eschewed. However, today could be the day where they become unstuck, and if you think that's the case, the Draw with BTTS is 4.75
'There's no such thing as a banker' : Both Teams to Score at 1.67 (4/6)
Reasonable Chance: Arsenal to score 2 or more goals @1.8 (4/5) OR Romelu Lukaku @2.8 (9/5)
Outside Chance: BTTS & DRAW @4.75 (15/4)
'The Stats Support it but I just Can't back it': Arsenal -1.5 Asian Handicap @3.45 (27/11)