Bet of the Day: Everton to narrowly beat Burnley in Premier LeaguePublished on: May 3, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Seventh spot in the Premier League – that position which is the first one outside the uber-competitive Top Six, the one which usually, but not always, delivers European football – has become synonymous with Everton over the years. Even if they’ve only finished there once in the last four seasons, it just feels like a very “Everton” place to finish. A decent, even good season, without being especially remarkable – delivering a European spot which will have been chucked away by Christmas of the following season. It’s appropriate that plenty of the more scathing pundits look at the Toffees’ decent but unremarkable squad and , their ability to impress without ever looking like taking the step up to the elite, and have dubbed 7th place “The Everton Cup”.
In 2018, the Everton Cup was won by Burnley – an impressive achievement for an inexpensively-assembled side, and one which was richly deserved. Burnley’s consistent subverting of expectations has been such that Sean Dyche, their manager, is talked about as a future England boss. However, in lifting this imaginary Cup and qualifying for Europe, Burnley seemed to knock their world off its axis. The steady, solid style of play, and the committed defence that had won them such plaudits, seemed to desert them at the beginning of this campaign. Dyche’s men now show up at Goodison holding 15th spot in the Premier League – and grateful that things aren’t much worse; they were in the bottom three as recently as February.
Tonight, the Toffees need to pick up a win against the side who succeeded them as winners of their own cup. With two games left in the season, a pair of wins and some help from elsewhere could see Marco Silva’s side leapfrog Wolves and Leicester, secure a European spot, and return the Everton Cup to Goodison.
This should be a foregone conclusion
Silva’s side have kept a clean sheet in their last four matches, and in five of the last six overall. They’ve won three games in a row and are generally in their best form of the season. Burnley, for their part, are assured of evading relegation – something they’d have been delighted to hear just a couple of months ago. The Turf Moor side can’t, however, achieve a top-half finish or get close to another European adventure. It all adds up to the feeling that, surely, the home side must win this game. If you’re thinking it’s that simple, however, you clearly don’t know Everton.
A look at the Merseyside club’s recent record will show that they have excellent wins over Chelsea and Manchester United within their last six results. It will, however, also show a 2-0 loss at already-relegated Fulham and a draw at Crystal Palace – the side with the worst home record in the Premier League. Those slips will be enough to make any Everton fan nervous about facing another of the league’s bottom-half sides. However, home advantage should be enough for Everton to win, and at 8/13 with Dafabet that’s the outcome we’re backing.
A low-scoring encounter in prospect?
A look at the stats will tell you that Everton have the joint-best defence outside of the Premier League’s top four; their relatively lowly ninth place, then, is down to a less productive attack, and their record of 50 scored in 36 games means they are scoring at a rate of 1.38 goals per match. That’s despite having the pace and attacking instincts of Theo Walcott and Richarlison out wide, allied to the clever promptings of Gylfi Sigurdsson in the number 10 role. A lot of blame is falling on young striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, which is a tad unfair – he’s a hard-working forward who presses high and leads the line on his own. Those players rarely have Aguero-like numbers.
Nonetheless, the lack of a regular “fox in the box” does mean that Silva’s men rarely blow opponents away. Against a side like Burnley, whose defensive discipline is part of the team’s DNA, we can’t expect a goal-fest here. In this regard, Betway’s 3/1 odds on Everton to win with fewer than 2.5 goals scored seem like excellent value. A 1-0 or 2-0 win for the home side seems highly possible, especially with limited motivation for the Clarets to take the game to their opponents.
Chances likely to be at a premium
At the heart of Everton’s defence today will be Michael Keane, who was purchased for £25million from… Burnley. There are many people who feel that since his arrival on Merseyside, his level of performance has compared unfavourably with James Tarkowski, who replaced him in Dyche’s side and, soon after that, the England squad. In actual fact, Keane has quietly had an excellent season, demonstrating exactly why the Toffees parted with all that cash to acquire him. With that said, Tarkowski has been equally good, and it’s unlikely that the home side will get much change out of his partnership with Ben Mee.
If Everton are to win this game, their breakthrough may come from a set-piece; they’ve been productive from dead balls all season and have the left foot of French international Lucas Digne working for them. In the previous match between these sides, the left-back scored an excellent free-kick – and part of Burnley’s defensive approach means they are prepared to concede fouls in the last third rather than let an attack progress. Unibet have priced Digne at 14/1 to break the deadlock here and, although it’s a punt, he’s given plenty of reason to believe it could be a smart one.
Bets of the Day
Everton win and fewer than 2.5 goals (Betway, 3/1); Everton win (Dafabet, 8/13); Digne to score first (Unibet, 14/1)