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Everton vs Liverpool betting preview: A season-shaping but low-scoring Merseyside derby awaits


Everton vs Liverpool betting preview: A season-shaping but low-scoring Merseyside derby awaits

Traditionally one of the Premier League's lowest scoring fixtures, the 288th Merseyside Derby will follow the trend.

NARRATIVES are funny things. Man-made and at first gossamer-thin they can be torn to shreds in the space of just ninety minutes. But if they happen to strengthen and take hold, not only can a narrative frame a team’s season: it can directly influence it.

Take this weekend’s 288th Merseyside derby as a prime example. The storyline unfolding at Goodison Park is that Everton are flying high under Carlo Ancelotti after the eminent coach successfully upgraded his midfield during the summer. With four wins from four nobody is getting carried away of course and suggesting a repeat of 2016’s fairy tale title triumph for Leicester is unquestionably far-fetched but who’s to say the Foxes’ sustained challenge for a Champions League spot last term cannot be replicated? After all, Everton look the business right now and that is valuable currency in a Premier League season that is set to be strange and thoroughly unpredictable for everyone concerned.

Victory over their nearest and not-so-dearest this Saturday – ten years to the very day since the Toffees last came out on top in a derby – would embolden this perception and give it substance and if that accounts for how the media and fans will view them in the weeks and months to come it should not be under-estimated either how much genuine belief will be installed into the players. A belief that a memorable campaign is possible.

A loss for Liverpool meanwhile would further the claim that their well-oiled machine is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Their result against Aston Villa prior to the international break genuinely shocked but the defeat itself did not and since Watford first broke the Reds’ seemingly impenetrable spell last February they have been bested six times in their last 20 games across all competitions.

This is hardly a crisis. That is anything but a crisis. Yet even so, another loss, coming so soon after a bizarre 7-2 mauling will kick-start a conversation Manchester City became well-acquainted with last year. That two years of supremacy is beginning to take a toll. That Liverpool’s defence can be ‘got at’ and they are there to be shot at. Should Jurgen Klopp depart Goodison scowling a long-held aura of invincibility will fully dissipate.

Conversely, just as easily as these nascent narratives can have a very real affect on both clubs going forward should Everton prevail – psychologically impacting on the visitors while propelling the Toffees to who knows where - they can be torn to shreds inside ninety minutes. If Liverpool continue their dominance of this fixture, with a formidable record that has seen them undefeated in the last 22 encounters, then their capitulation at Villa Park can be put down to a weird blip; a temporary losing of the plot, to paraphrase their manager. For Everton, defeat would lead to reality setting in, with all the reassurances that come with it. It was an impressive start to the campaign, the pundits will chime. They’ll be fine.

For the Blues to avoid such condescension much will depend on how the most underrated player in the top-flight Lucas Digne manages to shackle Mo Salah while they will be buoyed significantly by the return of Allan to the centre circle. Principally though they will be looking to two of the brightest stars in the Premier League firmament at present in James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Since the Colombian’s arrival in the North-West he has statistically been the best player in his role and all while disproving the notion that playmakers have to sprint like everyone else. As for Calvert-Lewin his strike-rate for both club and country has been astonishing to date, with a goal every 59.9 minutes this term, and he will be relishing the prospect of testing Liverpool’s brow-beaten back-up keeper Adrian. The 23-year-old is 29/20 to score anytime and having put away 39% of Everton’s goals so far that’s a decent shout. On a related note incidentally, Ancelotti’s men have been scoring for fun of late with 23 in their opening seven games. Last season the best they could muster from any seven-game combination was 12.

From Liverpool’s perspective they will be delighted to have Sadio Mane back after testing positive for Covid but if the thought of the brilliant Senegalese striker coming up against the gaffe-prone Pickford at one end while Calvert-Lewin further shakes Adrian’s mettle at the other all suggests an avalanche of goals then please think again.

Naturally, it is tempting to believe and hope for this and why wouldn’t we? Here is a fiercely contested derby involving two keepers whose confidence levels are on the floor. Then there is Everton’s recent prolificacy to consider not to mention the bigger picture showing beyond any doubt that goal-gluts have become the new normal in the Premier League. Yet if the most fascinating aspect of this weekend’s clash is what might derive from it, to best determine the outcome we must look back at the fixture’s past.

The Merseyside derby is a favourite for neutrals and for good reason but that reason is absolutely not goals. In the last decade 22% of the games have finished 0-0 and if we go back further and assess all 61 clashes in the Premier League era 18% have ended scoreless. These are figures dramatically over the norm, even factoring in its derby status. Tellingly, the last 540 minutes of derbies played at Goodison have produced a goal every 180 minutes.

The 33/20 on only one team or neither to score therefore jumps out while overall Everton’s 29/10 odds entice. It is they after all who go into this weekend in the better shape and it’s really not often that can be said. It is they too who are chasing down an exciting narrative from which to build on. 

Latest match odds:

Everton 29/10
Draw 29/10
Liverpool 17/20

For all Merseyside Derby odds, click here.

 

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