Over the last decade or so, the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park has unfailingly been one of the most entertaining matches of the season.
Drama, penalties, red cards and goals are almost guaranteed in the fixture, but will that be the case when Everton host Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime?
For once, I have a feeling that controversy – and goals – might be in short supply. To me, the no goalscorer odds of 27/4 look appealing and this makes the already difficult task of picking out value goalscorer bets all the more tricky.
If we take Everton first, their chronic lack of striking options has held them back for years.
Manager David Moyes has been unable to bring in the top class striking talent he desperately craves due to the club’s perilous financial position, instead making do with free transfers and loans that haven’t worked out.
The Blues do have one top class forward, but between the time of writing and kick off there is plenty of time for Louis Saha to stub his toe or snap a nail, so check the team before taking the 11/2 he scores first.
Tim Cahill has been the scourge of Liverpool in the past, scoring five times in this fixture, but as an injury doubt who hasn’t scored a Premier League goal since December for once I won’t be tempted by the Aussie.
And with little known about new signings Apostolos Vellios and Denis Stracqualursi (other than I wouldn’t touch them at the prices posted) I’m going to look at an outsider.
Leighton Baines is for my money the best left-back in the Premier League and might be worth a punt at 14/1 to score first and 15/4 to notch anytime. Baines has a brilliant left foot, always gets forward and has a decent goalscoring record – he scored seven times last season and has already got his name on the scoresheet this term, converting a penalty against Aston Villa.
A successful £25 free bet on Baines to score first would return £375, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
This is significant, as with Baines on penalties and set-piece duty, it may take a dead-ball situation to turn a close encounter and anyone who has watched Liverpool will tell you that the central four defensive minded players (Martin Skrtel, Jamie Carragher, Lucas and Charlie Adam) have a frustrating habit of giving away silly fouls in dangerous areas. With this in mind, Baines could be value.
As for Liverpool, I wrote last week that Dirk Kuyt is always a reliable goalscorer (he has three Goodison goals to his name) and if he starts I would be interested in the 7/1 to score first and 2/1 anytime, yet manager Kenny Dalglish’s baffling insistence on picking Jordan Henderson ahead of the Dutchman means I’ll be looking elsewhere and one man stands out (clue: it isn’t Andy Carroll).
Luis Suarez is 9/2 favourite to score first (6/5 anytime) but with good reason – the Uruguayan is pure class and looks set to give the Everton defence a torrid afternoon. Suarez scored a brilliant goal last week and I’ll be on him to score again.
One last thing worth considering is Steven Gerrard to score last at 11/2 – the returning Reds captain is not fit enough to start but will almost certainly get half an hour regardless of the score and it would be typical Gerrard to mark his return with a goal against Liverpool’s biggest foes.
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