The Premier League is an unforgiving place this season.
Tottenham Hotspur have 39 points after 17 matches, which is more than four of the previous 10 eventual champions had at this point.
And while they’re only six points behind leaders Liverpool going into the 18th round of matches, nobody is talking about them as potential title winners.
Still, things could be worse. They could be Everton. On the morning of December 2nd they were sixth in the table, six points off fourth, and ahead of Manchester United (which has never sounded so unimpressive). Unfortunately they then conceded the most ridiculous goal of this or any other season at Anfield that afternoon, and haven’t won since.
The Toffees haven’t won any of their last 22 games against the big six sides. They’re winless in their last 11 league games against Tottenham.
Everton have won only one of their last six in the league while Spurs have won five, so there should be only one outcome on Sunday, right?
Tottenham are the favourites for this one, but there’s not that much in it. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are available at 6/5, with the home side priced at 11/5 and the draw 23/10. This prices imply that it should be a closer contest than the two meetings last season, which Spurs won by an aggregate score of 7-0.
But that was a different Everton. The Everton of Koeman (0-3 to Spurs at home), Allardyce (0-4 away) and Rooney (who started both).
Marco Silva’s mob are built of far sterner stuff or are they?
To be honest, at this point it’s hard to say.
Six of Everton’s eight away games so far have been against teams who go into the weekend above them in the table, while all of their league games at home in 2018/19 have been against sides who are below them. Tottenham’s visit is unchartered territory for the current incumbent of the Goodison hot seat.
A draw would be recently unchartered territory to Spurs, while we’re on the theme. None of their 17 league matches has ended all square in 2018/19, which is the second longest run from the start of a season in the Premier League era.
What makes this doubly interesting is that the nerdy numbers spit out 1-1 as the most likely score line. Paddy agrees too, as at 11/2, 1-1 is the shortest priced option in the correct score market. Prior to last season’s stroll for Spurs, the previous two meetings at Goodison Park ended 1-1 too.
While I expect the visitors to win, this bet isn’t the worst by any means. Everton are one of only three teams who are yet to fail to score at home this season, albeit they haven’t hosted a big team yet as I said. But their underlying performances have been strong enough so I expect them to score in this one.
A bet on that eventuality won’t make you rich, as it’s priced at 2/7, so to get a little more value let’s go with a ‘yes’ in the both teams to score market, which is available at 6/10.
Since August 2016, only three teams in England’s top flight have played more home games where both teams found the net than Everton have. Spurs are fifth on the away version of that chart, and have yet to draw a blank on the road this season.
This match-up may have been a walkover for Spurs in 2017/18, but both sides scored in the three clashes prior to that.
Expect both Pickford and Lloris to be beaten in this one.
However, while it appears likely both sides will score, there won’t necessarily be at least three goals in total. We’re back to our 1-1 score line again, aren’t we?
These teams don’t rate highly on the ‘over 2.5 goals’ chart for the last 2.5 seasons, and none of the four meetings on Merseyside prior to last season saw more than two goals either. I’m going to go for under 2.5 goals at evens, so I suggest you join me.
For scorers, I certainly wouldn’t dissuade you from looking at Richarlison, as he is in decent form with five goals in his last 10 appearances for club and country. He can be backed at 7/1 to score first, or 2/1 at any time.
But there’s a better value Toffee option which is worth considering: Gylfi Sigurdsson. No player in the Premier League has amassed more expected goals without scoring in the last four matches. Granted, the fact he missed a penalty against Watford accounts for a fair chunk of that, but when he’s 11/4 to score at some point, I would keep the Icelander in your thoughts. It is Christmas, after all.
Prior to last weekend, Christian Eriksen had taken the most shots without scoring of any ‘big six’ player in the Premier League this season. Yet now he has scored important winners against Inter and Burnley within the last month, so isn’t as due a goal as he once was.
Even so, he scored home and away against Everton last season, and at 10/3 to score here, fingers crossed he does again. Or, you know, just go for Harry Kane as usual, Spurs fans. It’s up to you.
Christmas comes but once a year, and when it does, it’s bloody dear. Fingers crossed we can all boost our coffers on this one. Have a great Christmas, friends.