Something strange has been happening on Merseyside of late, and I’m not talking about Liverpool’s still-remarkable inability to pick up three points at home, even when they appear to be there for the taking.
The oddity I’m thinking of concerns Liverpool’s near-neighbours Everton and their transformation into one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the league.
While the Toffees are renowned as end-of-season specialists, their record of 18 goals in their last six league games – including 12 in their last three – still comes as a surprise, even if it does mask an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool just when the Reds looked vulnerable.
For while Everton under long-time manager David Moyes have earned numerous plaudits for punching above their weight through a mixture of determination, hard work and organisation, they are hardly renowned for being great entertainers.
The arrival for Nikica Jelavic from cash-strapped Rangers in January, allayed with the return of Steven Pienaar on loan from Tottenham, seems to have changed all that and suddenly Everton are a team to be feared going forward.
This makes odds of 29/20 on Everton to score at least twice – something they have done in each of their last six league games, including in a trip to Old Trafford last week – appealing, particularly as they are playing Stoke.
The goals are flowing for Everton and Jelavic is bagging the bulk of them
Although they don’t make a habit of conceding more than once, the Potters have not kept a clean sheet for nine games in a run stretching back to a 1-0 home win over Norwich on March 3rd.
And with a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle at the Sports Direct Arena still fresh in the memory, it certainly looks worth backing the Toffees to score over 1.5 goals, even if the Potters will hold home advantage.
A successful £25 free bet on this outcome is set to return £61.25, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
While struggling to keep opposing teams out, Stoke have also had trouble finding the back of the net of late.
Tony Pulis’ side have only scored more than once on one occasion in their last ten matches – and that was against Wolves.
It therefore won’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Stoke have only won one of their last nine games and are odds-on at 2/5 to score under 1.5 goals.
As well as backing Everton to score over 1.5 goals, then, it could also be worth having a punt on an away win.
A sixth win in nine outings for Moyes’ men is priced at 7/5 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with a home win at 19/10 and the draw at 9/4.
One final bet to consider is on Jelavic carrying on his fine form in front of goal.
The Croatian has scored seven goals in his last four appearances for the Toffees and twice in each of his last three league outings.
He therefore looks good value at 3/2 to score at any time at the Britannia, particularly if you consider the far less prolific Peter Crouch and Tim Cahill are at the same price.
Meanwhile, two or more goals could hold appeal for the more aggressive punter at 8/1.
After all, the goals are flowing for Everton and Jelavic is bagging the bulk of them.
Everton to score over 1.5 goals @ 29/20
Everton to beat Stoke @ 7/5
Jelavic to score two or more goals @ 8/1
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