If there’s one thing you can always rely on with Everton, it’s that they will start the season with relegation form, and end it as if they were title contenders. What’s that? Fourth after ten games? You must be mistaken, this is Everton we’re talking about.
Alas, I have checked the table and it seems David Moyes has indeed managed to guide his side into the early Champions League slots. Who’d have thunk it?
With just one loss from their opening ten games, the Toffees have made a terrific start to the 2012/13 season, and have looked good doing it.
They had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Fulham last week, but dominated the Cottagers on their own patch, having 28 shots on Mark Schwarzer’s goal.
Sunderland on the other hand have not enjoyed this campaign so far, sitting fifth from bottom, achieving just one win from nine games and suffered a demoralising 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa last time out.
The most damning statistic, though, lies in their goals, or lack-thereof. Martin O’Neill’s side has found the back of the net just six times in the Premier League. Or more accurately, Steven Fletcher has scored five times, with a Demba Ba own goal in the 1-1 draw with rivals Newcastle accounting for the other strike.
The Scotland international is still the only man to have scored a league goal for the Wearsiders, and can be backed at 13/4 to bag one on Saturday.
The two teams have faced-off four times in the past twelve months, with two draws and two wins for the Toffees, including a 4-0 victory at Goodison Park in April.
Sunderland have not been able to beat the Blue half of Merseyside since December 2001.
Everton on the other hand have enjoyed their clashes, especially their 7-1 win from 2007, and have won 14 of the 25 meetings between the two since 1996.
The north-east outfit have tasted victory on five occasions, and will most definitely feel they have a point to prove. Everton are due some bad form and so the 25/4 might prove tempting if you think Sunderland can pick up a much needed win.
However, you might be more inclined to look at the draw. Everton’s last four games have seen them deadlocked, while Sunderland have tied an amazing six of their nine matches. With that in mind, the 29/10 you can get on a draw in this one will no doubt be a very popular choice.
When all is said and done though, my choice comes down square and true on an Everton win at 12/25.
The form of Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas could well be the difference here, and with Sunderland unable to score any goals unless Fletcher is firing, the 3/2 on Everton to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 looks to me to be the obvious call at Goodison.