It’s hard to imagine how Everton’s season could have started any better. They’ve won three on the bounce since the opening day draw with Tottenham, and with Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku back from injury Ronald Koeman must wake up smiling every morning at the moment.
Comparatively speaking, Middlesbrough have been as impressive in their own way. Having lost just once in their four starts to date upon their return to the promised land of the Premier League, Aitor Karanka’s side look capable of scrapping it out with the best of them.
Saturday night’s TV game could be an intriguing affair then, but which way will it go?
Koeman’s days just keep getting better with James McCarthy (groin) his only fitness worry at the moment. Tom Cleverley is nearing full fitness but he is unlikely to dislodge Gareth Barry or the outstanding Idrissa Gueye at the moment.
Consequently, the Toffees gaffer will probably select the same eleven that finished the 3-0 win over Sunderland, with Gerard Deulofeu coming in for Ross Barkley and the impressive Yannick Bolasie switch to the left flank.
Grant Leadbitter is Middlesbrough’s long term injury concern – his hernia could keep him out until after the Christmas. The midfielder played a key role in his side’s promotion push last season and so is duly missed, but Karanka’s team selection is fairly settled and they will benefit from such consistency.
2016/17 Season Stats
As if to emphasise the changes that Koeman has swiftly made at Everton, they have bagged seven goals in four outings and fired an impressive average of 7.75 shots on target per game; the division’s best. They’ve got two clean sheets on the bounce too since Coleman’s return and the introduction of new signing Ashley Williams, so things really are looking up for the Toffees.
The foundation for Everton’s success is that they only yield an average of 2.50 shots on target per match too, which means that they aren’t getting broken down either. A delicious run of fixtures it has been, yes, but the improvement in their game this term is stratospheric.
Middlesbrough’s handy start has been built on a defensive platform: they yield just 3.00 shots on target per match on average. But, and this could be crucial, they conceded two goals in a game for the first time against Crystal Palace last time out, and the Eagles aren’t a patch on Everton from an attacking perspective. That does not bode well for the North East outfit.
“these two sides have earned just 12 yellow cards between them in eight combined outings”
If you are a punter that likes to explore the cards markets then ‘unders’ may be your play here: these two sides have earned just 12 yellow cards between them in eight combined outings thus far.
These two teams have played each other some 126 times in the past, with the first fixture dating back more than a century!
Lots of history then, and it is the Merseysiders who have enjoyed supremacy with 62 wins to the Boro’s 34. Stalemates have ensued in 34 encounters.
“Everton haven’t lost to Middlesbrough in seven meetings”
Crucially Everton haven’t lost to Middlesbrough in seven meetings and claimed five wins into the bargain; a happy knack.
Predictions & Betting Tips
It’s very rare that a price as short as 3/4 (William Hill) represents good value, but that’s exactly what we have here given Everton’s excellent form. They are a deserved favourite, and perhaps could have been a tad shorter, so get involved before the price falls.
Punters always love a goalscorer that tends to go on streaks in front of goal, and Romelu Lukaku is just the man. You may remember back to last season when he netted nine goals in eight consecutive Premier League games, and then later on in the season scored three in four. After Monday night’s hat-trick, he looks an excellent proposition at 7/5 with Betfair to find the net here.
Sometimes smart punters use logic and reason to devise their wagers, and other times it is just a case of backing what you think with no obvious reason. Here’s one example: if Crystal Palace can score two against the Boro, then an in-form Everton on home soil should be able to as well. They are 17/20 with Coral to score 2+ here.
Everton to WIN (Best price from WILLIAM HILL at 3/4) – BET HERE
Romelu Lukaku Anytime Goalscorer (Best price from BETFAIR at 7/5) – BET HERE
Everton Over 1.5 Goals (Best price from CORAL at 17/20) – BET HERE
See more of our betting previews here.