Everton v Arsenal at Goodison Park is one of those matches which seems steeped in football history, but I have to admit that here in November 2012 it is causing me a few problems from a punting point of view.
Ever since I saw this match on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what a nightmare this was going to be to write about and assess.
Why? Well, the reason is simple – I’ve been looking to oppose both of these teams as often as I can over the last few weeks for any number of reasons, so what am I meant to do when they are playing each other?
I have written a lot about these two sides over the course of this season and the bottom line is that neither have impressed me anywhere near as much as they seem to have impressed other pundits and looking at it from a betting perspective, I have found both Everton and Arsenal priced far too short in the majority of matches they have played.
If we take Everton first, their last two matches have been a prime example. Away at Reading and at home to Norwich City the Toffees have been priced up at 83/100 and 11/25 respectively, so you might well expect a better haul of just one point from the two games against sides that look destined to be bottom-six fodder all season.
But a loss at the Madejski and a draw with the Canaries was all Everton managed and while this was a surprise for some, I have been saying that the Blues are over-hyped for some time.
I made the point before the Reading match, but two games on it is even more relevant: take away the blistering start to the season when David Moyes’ side beat Manchester United and Aston Villa in their opening two matches and Everton’s record doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny.
Everton have won just three of their last 12, which includes a Capital One Cup loss to Leeds United, during a run of fixtures that has been more than inviting.
Failure to beat Wigan, QPR, Fulham, Reading and Norwich – as well as gaining fortunate results against Liverpool and Sunderland – doesn’t tell me that the Toffees are genuine top-four contenders. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But where do you start with Arsenal? Every time you think the Gunners have turned a corner, they throw in another witless display.
Their goalless draw at Aston Villa was the latest desperately poor showing and the formerly quiet discontent among the supporters is turning into something more vocal, with fans at Villa Park chanting ‘we want our Arsenal back’, just as they did during the horror show at Old Trafford.
Arsenal were 13/20 to beat Villa, just as they were 12/25 to beat Fulham at home when they drew 3-3, and just as they were 53/100 to win at Carrow Road when they lost to Norwich.
So what do you do with both sides so untrustworthy? Back Everton at 3/2? Arsenal at 9/5? The draw at 11/5? It has to be the draw, doesn’t it?
It has been a long, long time since you were getting that price on a Gunners win at Everton, which suggests the odds compilers might be coming round to my way of thinking.
But it also means that Everton are probably too short and I don’t really want to be backing them given their run of form and Arsenal’s great record at Goodison, where they have lost just two of the last ten trips and have won the four of the last five.
In fact, Arsenal were the last team to win at Goodison 11 matches ago, so there is no denying Everton are tough to beat on their own patch and I really don’t trust Arsenal to repeat their feat of March. Equally, Everton look too short to beat a European rival, so it leaves the 11/5 as the only option.
There is only one point between the sides in the Premier League table and I think that could be the case come the final whistle today.