Strange things happen in domestic competitions immediately after international matches and one is willing to take a punt on Everton putting the frighteners on Liverpool in Saturday’s English Premier League derby at Anfield.
Everton has an absolutely appalling Merseyside Derby record in recent years but the Toffees could not have asked to get the Reds at a much better time. Not only is Everton one of the English Premier League’s form sides but also Liverpool has to contend with two of its most influential players backing up from two FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in South America. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have spent the past week with Brazil’s national team, first in Uruguay and then on home soil for a game versus Paraguay.
You have to go all the way back to October 2010 for the last time that Everton beat Liverpool – the Toffees are 0-7-6 in their most recent 13 matches against their greatest rivals. Everton could not buy a Merseyside Derby win under either David Moyes or Roberto Martinez and, while Ronald Koeman experienced defeat in his first such game as Toffees boss three months ago, it took a late Sadio Mane goal to decide the English Premier League clash 1-0 in Liverpool’s favour.
Few Liverpool players have had better English Premier League campaigns than Coutinho and Firmino and, if the Brazilians are not at their best versus Everton, bookmakers may regret chalking up long odds about the Toffees winning at Anfield for the first time since 1999. It is realistic to expect Liverpool’s attack not to function perfectly with Coutinho and Firmino facing the tough prospect of playing one of the most intense English Premier League fixtures just a few days after representing their country and flying halfway around the world. And Liverpool’s brittle defence – the Reds have conceded 36 goals in their 29 English Premier League matches – is the primary reason why Jurgen Klopp’s charges have not ended up challenging Chelsea for the title. Koeman will be telling Everton’s players that Liverpool is vulnerable.
One accepts that Liverpool is superior to Everton but one takes issue with the Reds being well into odds-on territory to beat the Toffees this weekend. According to one’s English Premier League collateral form analysis, Liverpool and Everton are tied on 9-1-9 even though the Reds are six points in front of the Toffees following 29 rounds. If Liverpool and Everton were not coming together after an international break then one would list the Reds at odds of around 1.90 to get the better of the Toffees, a quote that acknowledges the one-sided head-to-head ledger and the excellent efforts of Klopp’s team in big games. But with Coutinho and Firmino unlikely to be at 100 per cent, one would be citing odds of at least +100 about Liverpool.
Therefore, one thinks that there is a strong value argument for backing Everton at odds of +500 with Marathonbet and Paddy Power. If you are a conservative punter than you can snap up odds of +138 with 32Red, 888Sport and Unibet that Everton avoids defeat against Liverpool and that constitutes a sound investment as well. One thinks that Everton should be trading at odds of around +300 to win the first match of the English Premier League and -125 not to taste defeat.
Everton to beat Liverpool
Saturday 1st April, 12:30 GMT
Everton or Draw
Saturday 1st April, 12:30 GMT