Liverpool defied Premier League expectations in jaw-dropping fashion last season, leaving a cavernous 12-point gap back to Everton in the latter’s first campaign under Roberto Martinez.
However, they rate a highly dubious bet to overcome a -9.5 point handicap in their seasonal match bet with the Toffees, in spite of the sides’ wildly convergent pre-season form.
Steven Gerrard and friends were 4-0 victors over Borussia Dotmund last time out; while Everton have failed to record a single friendly win.
Yet backing those who march in the footsteps of the ‘Dogs of War’ and the School of Science (+9.5 points) to outstrip Anfield’s finest looks too good to ignore at 17/20.
Liverpool’s performance can be expected to dip this season for a variety of reasons.
Most importantly they are without Luis Suarez, a man who either scored or assisted 43 of their 101 league goals last term.
The leading recipients of his set-ups, Raheem Sterling (6) and Daniel Sturridge (4), will find goal-getting that bit trickier this season as a result.
A return to European football will curb their effectiveness in domestic matters too.
While Everton’s Europa League duties will affect their progress, the Champions League has far less scope for loafing and squad rotation than the consolation cup.
Ten players-worth of pre-season squad churn will mean Brendan Rodgers must redefine the dynamic within his working party ahead of the new campaign.
Meanwhile at Goodison Park, his opposite number has only one new senior ego to accommodate in Muhamed Besic.
Having taken over in the wake of David Moyes’ lengthy tenure, Martinez did a far better job in helming such a transition than the man he replaced managed at his own next port of call.
Laying down his head each close-season evening without having to consider how to replace the previous campaign’s star men will have been an agreeable novelty for the former Wigan man too.
As such, in only his second season on Merseyside, he’s in a prime position to extract further improvement from his charges in a way he has never had a chance to before.
With Liverpool facing a fight to continue punching at their 2013/14 weight in the post-Suarez era, he should be able to find enough improvement to land the 17/20 about Everton finishing above Liverpool with a 9.5-point head-start.