On Saturday, Everton face Norwich City in a crucial tie for both teams’ respective ambitions in the Premier League this season.
Only four points above the relegation zone, the Toffees are also in desperate need of goals: they have failed to net in six out of 14 top-flight matches this season and haven’t troubled the scorers over the last 192 minutes of play.
Their poor performances against Stoke and Arsenal – where they produced a grand total of zero shots on target – were the icing on the cake for a side used to fighting for Europa League football.
Despite this negative streak, Everton are likely to net against a Canaries defence which has shipped 13 goals over the last five games Just don’t expect it to be their strikers who make a difference.
For all his talk of poverty, owner Bill Kenwright will never admit to Everton’s failures in the transfer market, the most glaring of which relates to their forward line.
While on the face of it, Louis Saha might seem a good shout to score at 11/10, the likes of Zak Whitbread, Russell Martin and Leon Barnett will always be stronger in the air and outnumber him – and that’s if he is even fit enough to start.
After all, when did the Merseysiders last have a 15-goal-a-season man? The answer is the 2007-08 season, when Yakubu was still fit (just about) and firing. He is now rifling them in for Blackburn. At the moment, bargain-basement buy Apostolos Vellios is leading their goalscoring charts with a miserly three strikes.
Everton’s football is also too direct to favour their forwards.The midfield pumps the ball too quickly into the box, hoping that somebody gets on the end of one of these interminable crosses.
So while on the face of it, Louis Saha might seem a good shout to score at 11/10, the likes of Zak Whitbread, Russell Martin and Leon Barnett will always be stronger in the air and outnumber him – and that’s if he is even fit enough to start all alone up front. He has only netted once this season.
The Toffees’ summer transfer dealings haven’t exactly brought in many alternatives, either.
Denis Stracqualursi’s signing even prompted one frustrated fan to call Talksport and complain that one of the Argentine’s Youtube compilations didn’t contain a single goal in the first two minutes! His odds of 9/2 to score the last goal as a super-sub are worth ignoring.
Everton’s best options are either from long-range shots or set-pieces, so ultimately Tim Cahill, Royston Drenthe or Marouane Fellaini are cleverer shouts to net at any time at 6/5, 2/1 and 11/4 respectively.
The same is also true of England left-back Leighton Baines, who as ever will be on corners, free-kicks and penalties and therefore represents decent value at 14/1 to break the deadlock at Goodison.
The visitors, on other hand, are currently on a hot goalscoring streak. On the road, they have only failed to score against Manchester United, and possess two prolific strikers in Steve Morison and Grant Holt (2/1 and 9/4 to score at any time respectively) who have both scored six this season.
Considering Everton’s recent poor form, how about going for a slightly more ambitious bet, such as the Canaries to open the scoring through Anthony Pilkington, as has been the case three times already this term?
Pilkington fell victim to boss Paul Lambert’s love of rotation in last week’s 4-2 win over Newcastle but looks to be a great punt at 14/1 if, as expected, he returns to the starting line-up on Saturday.
Just make sure you wait for the teams to be confirmed before placing your wager on this one – and then sit back and enjoy the former Huddersfield man burying a trademark 25-yard free-kick.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting