I hope you all had an enjoyable new year. There will have been adults legally drinking on December 31st who weren’t alive when Everton last won at Anfield. Are Toffees fans going to be partying like it’s 1999 on Friday night?
Paddy Power don’t think so (Everton are 7/1 to win) and neither do I. Sam Allardyce tends to treat the FA Cup with the kind of disdain he usually saves for unimportant things like the job of being England manager. Big Sam has won just eight of his 27 matches in the competition, and, aside from a win over Arsenal 12 years ago, he hasn’t beaten anyone of note.
Allardyce likes to rotate his line ups in the cups too, though with Everton mid-table and derby pride at stake, he might not weaken his team as much as he might’ve otherwise. But with no wins and only one goal in their last four league matches, Sam’s mob certainly are in poor form.
Jürgen Klopp’s team, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 16 matches, and have won 11 of them. Their starting XI is likely to be weakened by Salah and Mané attending the African Footballer of the Year awards on Thursday, and Coutinho acting like a spoilt brat.
Liverpool should still have too much for Everton though, and the odds of 17/10 that the Reds win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 look mighty tempting to me. While, a 2-0 defeat has been the Toffees’ most frequent score line over the past 20 matches, and you can get 6/1 on that outcome here.
For that to happen, Liverpool need to score (who knew?), and the favourite to break the deadlock is Mohamed Salah, at 10/3. He may not even be in the same continent as the match, which shows how good he is.
Roberto Firmino will probably be the only one of Liverpool’s fab four to start the game, and he’s available at a (fab) 4/1 to score first. As the king of metal ties and bright teeth has scored seven goals in his last seven starts, I’d strongly consider placing a few pennies on him opening the scoring under the Friday night lights.
Firmino's smile is visible from space.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) November 21, 2017
On the Everton side of the first scorer market, Oumar Niasse and Wayne Rooney are 17/2 joint-favourites to net the first goal. As the latter has scored half of the Toffees’ away league goals this season, and also takes penalties, then he’s surely the man to back if you’re of a Blue disposition.
Speaking of penalties, what price that there will be one? 5/2, since you asked so politely. I’m sure you’ll recall Everton were awarded a not-at-all-contentious spot kick on their last trip across Stanley Park. Would it surprise anyone if the gods of football ensured Liverpool got recompense via a penalty here?
If you don’t believe in the principle of ‘it all evens out in the end’, how about the fact only one current Premier League ref awards penalties more often than Bobby Madley does?
He’ll be the man in the black on Friday, and as he averages a penalty every three games but hasn’t awarded one in the last six, he might just point to the spot at Anfield.
Plus the only ref who awards penalties more frequently is Mike Dean, and how can anybody hope to compete with a scene-stealing showman of such high repute?
Mike Dean steals the show with minutes to go in the last game of 2017. pic.twitter.com/nNbrxSTyli
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) December 31, 2017
Madley has taken charge of a Merseyside derby before. Liverpool won 4-0 in 2016, in a match that was notable for how bad two things were: Everton generally, and Funes Mori’s challenge on Origi. Big Sam won’t be as naïve as Bobby Martinez was that night, but could there be a Friday feast of goals?
I’ll be betting on there being under 2.5 goals, at 11/10. Although the table here shows Liverpool love a goal frenzy, it’s less common for Everton, and Allardyce will surely employ the same spoiling tactics as he did at Anfield last time out.
There have also been at least three goals in only three of Big Sam’s nine matches in charge so far, and one of those was a Europa League match in Cyprus that he didn’t even go to. Probably didn’t trust himself not to slope off to Ayia Napa for the weekend.
Liverpool have seen over 2.5 goals in seven of their last nine matches, so if you think they will do so again then get on at 4/6. One of the two games with under three goals was against Everton though; you have been warned.
One final tip for this week: don’t eat yellow snow. And here’s one last suggested bet: Liverpool to win to nil, at 11/10. That may not seem a juicy price, but it still feels generous to me.
Eight of the Reds’ last twelve victories in all competitions have seen them shut their opponents out.
Everton have failed to score in three of their last four matches, and didn’t even muster a single shot on target last time out against Manchester United. Though as any Kopite will tell you, the Toffees always roll over for United.
Add all of the above together and I keep coming back to Liverpool winning to nil. May as well get on the Reds to keep a clean sheet at Evens too, whilst you’re at it.
The FA Cup loves a plucky underdog though, so watch out for little old Everton. They’re coming to ruin a football match near you.
* All odds correct at time of posting.