Sunderland 0-3 EVERTON – Romelu Lukaku (first goalscorer) x 3
MIDDLESBROUGH 1-2 Crystal Palace – Daniel Ayala
Kick-off: 17:30, 17/09/16
TV: BT Sport 1
Stadium: Goodison Park
Head-to-head (last five meetings – most recent first): Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton, Everton 2-1 Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough 0-1 Everton, Everton 1-1 Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton
Out – Muhamed Besic, James McCarthy
Doubt – Tom Cleverley, Darron Gibson
Out – Grant Leadbitter
Doubt – Fabio Da Silva
* Everton are unbeaten in seven meetings with Middlesbrough
* The Toffees have conceded just twice in five competitive games this term
* Boro have both leaked and netted a goal per match on average since promotion
A look at Everton’s odds
The Toffees have been backed in to 6/1 in the top-four finish betting odds after an exceptional start to life under Ronald Koeman, pocketing ten points from an available 12. That is double the total that both they and his former side Southampton had at this stage 12 months ago.
The head-to-head statistics suggest that Middlesbrough will be powerless to stop what is a four-match winning streak in all competitions, especially as they have lost three successive meetings with the Merseysiders, who are judged 7/10 favourites.
Two of those successes were achieved without conceding, while they have been breached only once over the duration of the aforementioned recent six-hour victory sequence, hinting that 33/20 is a generous price on them prevailing to nil.
A look at Middlesbrough’s odds
The Championship runners-up made an excellent start, holding Stoke and then defeating rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, though an EFL Cup exit to Fulham, a goalless draw with West Brom and a home reverse to Crystal Palace have killed the buzz.
Aitor Karanka’s men have consequently seen their Premier League relegation odds cut to 4/1, and they aren’t likely to get any longer after facing an Everton team who have conquered them three times in a row: once in the Premier League, once in the FA Cup and once in the League Cup.
Whatever happens, the Teessiders should be safe from a thrashing. Six of their last nine fixtures delivered two goals or fewer and under 2.5 goals is well fancied at Goodison Park at 3/4.