Few predicted quite how well Everton would start this season after Ronald Koeman’s tough first summer at Goodison Park, when high-profile transfer targets seemed to slip through the Dutchman’s fingers on a daily basis.
Koeman looks to have got an awful lot right though, with the Toffees unbeaten in third after taking 10 Premier League points from the first 12 available to them.
Seeing off Sunderland last time out at the Stadium of Light, thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s first, second and third goals of the campaign, should ensure Everton go into their home fixture against the Black Cats’ north-east neighbours Middlesbrough bursting with confidence.
They’re odds-on favourites with Ladbrokes at 13/20 for a fifth win on the spin in all competitions, but that still appears to hold value considering Aitor Karanka’s charges’ recent struggles.
Newly-promoted Boro can be fairly satisfied with their top-flight work so far, with Karanka and co sitting ninth on five points after four games, but one win in five 2016/17 matches is hardly stellar.
The 2-1 victory at Sunderland came four matches ago and has been followed by a 2-1 EFL Cup loss in extra-time away to Fulham, a 0-0 draw at West Brom and a 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace last time out, the Eagles’ first win of the campaign.
With Everton, Tottenham, West Ham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester to face before December hits, Boro’s competent start to Premier League proceedings could turn ugly very quickly.
They’re easy to back at 5/1 for good reason, having failed to win a top-flight match at Goodison since the year 2000.
A second Lukaku hat-trick in successive games can be backed at 25/1, with no other player shorter than 66s in the betting to score three or more.
For the slightly less optimistic, the Belgian bagging another opener attracts a 7/2 quote with the bookies.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.