Everton play host to West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening in search of three points that could take them into the top four of the Premier League.
David Moyes’ team have rarely been out of the top six this season having enjoyed one of their strongest first halves to a campaign for a number of years, but goalless draws in their last two league matches have seen them lose ground on the sides above them.
The scoreless affairs against Southampton and Swansea City were sandwiched in between two successful FA Cup outings, the first a resounding 5-1 success at Cheltenham Town and most recently, a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.
The victory in the fourth round of the competition wasn’t the Toffees’ finest performance, but Johnny Heitinga’s last-minute goal did the job for them and secured them an away tie at Liverpool’s conquerors, Oldham Athletic.
With FA Cup progress secured, Moyes will be keen for his side to return to winning ways in the league and keep the pressure on fourth-placed Tottenham and the betting for the midweek game is in Everton’s favour.
The home side will start the match as 53/100 favourites in bwin’s 3-way betting market, with the visitors 5/1 and the draw available at 3/1.
The odds might seem a little long for West Brom considering they are only four points and three places behind their hosts, but the Baggies have been in freefall since the end of November.
After a blistering start to the campaign in which Steve Clarke saw his side claim 26 points from their opening 13 fixtures, Albion have managed a measly eight points from the previous ten outings and have not won in any of their last six matches in all competitions.
Little wonder, then, that West Brom are underdogs and the statistics suggest the victory I’m expecting for Everton will come as a result of a poor second-half display from their opponents.
Albion have a -5 goal difference in the second 45 minutes of away games and incredibly, they have not come out on top in any second half on their travels either.
This should mean then that Everton will be good value for the 83/100 that bwin has offered on them getting the better of the scoreline in the second half.
As well as a weak showing after the interval from the visitors, it would also seem likely that if Everton do indeed claim the three points, then it will be in a low-scoring game.
The Toffees have the third-strongest defensive record in the league, so Albion to score at 11/20 may not come off.
One other bet that is likely to come off though is 11/25 on under 3.5 goals being scored in the match, as Everton and West Brom have only been involved in six and five league games respectively containing under 3.5 goals.
Everton to win a game of under 3.5 goals looks a cracking punt at 27/20, then, especially with potential winnings of £47 on offer for new bwin customers using their free £20 bet after registering.
But if you’re looking for a safer shout, that shocking second-half record on the road for the Baggies makes the odds-on play on Moyes’ boys winning the final 45 minutes a worthy one.