News that John Stones, the fresh prince of the Everton backline, is staring down the barrel at an eight-week absence with ankle ligament damage has shaken Goodison Park.
The thought of injury further depleting a defence that is already the leakiest in the Premier League is indeed a chastening one.
However, there’s reason to suspect that backing the Toffees to keep only their second clean sheet of the campaign at 27/20 when Aston Villa come to town is a far from heinous course of betting action.
Football fans need scapegoats and the 36-year-old presence of Sylvain Distin at the heart of the defence became something to latch onto as the Roberto Martinez’s side shipped ten goals in their opening three games.
Yet his presence was hardly in the first flush of youth when the Everton posted a fifth-place finish last term, thanks partly to the third-best rearguard in the division.
In the 2013/14 games which didn’t feature Distin from the off his side lost 38 per cent of their fixtures, vouching for his importance to a greater extent than captain Phil Jagielka, without whom 27 per cent of outings were lost.
By way of comparison just 17 per cent of the 24 matches in which young Stones didn’t play went the way of the opposition.
As such the Frenchman’s return to the line-up, which is expected to coincide with the Villans’ Goodison visit, is to be viewed with positivity rather than with trepidation.
Neither is a lack of strength in depth caused by Stones’ absence to be feared overly, with Antolin Alcaraz and summer addition Muhammed Besic both adept enough practitioners.
Toffees fans may have seen the latter as a defensive midfielder but he plied his trade at centre-back for Hungarian side Ferencvaros before he was nabbed by Toffees talent hunters over the summer.
Upcoming opponents Aston Villa have now gone three games without a goal, meaning those who sign up for a bwin.com account today can expect to profit from an Everton shutout to the tune of £40.50 if they choose to use their £30 free bet on our suggested wager.