Not for the first time, Everton are the league’s in-form side heading into the closing stages of the season.
Start slowly, end like a powerhouse. Under David Moyes, it’s become the Everton way. Toffees fans have long wondered just what could be if they were to transform their sluggish starts into something more potent. Now that Nikica Jelavic is on board, next season could well see them find out.
Having scored more than two goals in a game only twice all season before the £5m signing from Rangers, Everton have scored 12 goals in their last three games at a whopping four goals a game.
The Croatian already has ten league goals to his name this season, and his presence is having a positive influence on other key players around him. Since signing a new striker, Moyes has encouraged a more attacking philosophy that has seen Marouane Fellaini thrive.
The big Belgian had scored only once in the league all season before Jelavic’s arrival, but his new role just behind the striker has seen him net twice in two games.
Away to an inconsistent Stoke side stuttering towards the end of a long campaign that included their first foray into the Europa League, Everton should be fancied to continue their free-scoring form.
Despite recently holding Arsenal to a respectable draw on Saturday, Stoke have kept just one clean sheet in ten, have won just twice in the same time, while Everton have lost just one of their last eight away fixtures.
Jelavic is 9/2 to score first, while Fellaini is a very tempting 10/1. But Stoke know how to find the net at home – they’ve registered just one blank in their last eight at the Britannia, so Peter Crouch at 5/1 should be considered, as should a punt on Everton 2-1 at 9/1.