The good times have, for the moment at least, returned to Goodison Park. Buoyed by the arrival of key players such as Nikica Jelavic, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson and Landon Donovan in the January transfer window, Everton have enjoyed a fine run in the Premier League in recent weeks.
Unexpected home wins against Manchester City and Chelsea have placed them firmly in the middle of the league and morale on the training ground has subsequently improved significantly according to club captain Phil Neville.
They therefore go into this weekend’s FA Cup fifth round fixture against Blackpool with confidence and odds of 21/50 reflect the fact that they are widely tipped to continue the positive form that has seen them remain unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions and register only two losses since the start of the year.
Given the good runs that both Everton and Blackpool have enjoyed recently, a draw seems like a real possibility.
Blackpool, however, have similarly enjoyed a fine start to 2012 and, despite the league difference between the two clubs and the slightly longer odds to win at 27/4, should not be considered inferior opponents.
Currently possessing the joint-best record in the Championship in the past six games, having picked up fourteen out of a possible eighteen points, they sit in fourth spot and remain in touching distance of the automatic promotion positions.
With the Tangerines able to rely on key players Kevin Philips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher to hit the net – they have scored seventeen goals between them this season – the Seasiders certainly have the potential to trouble Everton at the back.
Indeed, this is in part why they are now unbeaten in ten games and have suffered defeat only once since the end of November.
Ian Holloway will be acutely aware of the fact that pivotal games against Championship leaders West Ham and play-off hopefuls Hull City are coming up in the next few weeks and will want to ensure that his team’s fixture list isn’t further crowded by the addition of a replay.
Given the good runs that both Everton and Blackpool have enjoyed recently, however, this seems like a real possibility.
Punters looking for an inspired choice should consider backing this game ending in a stalemate at 16/5. New Bwin customers who use their free £25 bet this way will win £105 if successful.
And given Blackpool’s strong record in the second half of away games so far this season – they have the second best record in the Championship in this regard – it would come as no surprise if they clawed back a draw having been losing at half time. Odds of 16/1 for this to happen are therefore very tempting.
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