Everton vs Stoke: Hosts to make it three wins on the bounce
The combination of Stoke’s midweek Europe League endeavours and their dreadful away record in the Premier League of late is likely to see them fall to defeat at Everton.
Stoke are on a sticky run of four successive Premier League reverses on the road, while they have triumphed just once in their last 16 top-flight away fixtures.
Meanwhile, Merseyside is not one of Stoke’s most favoured areas to visit as they have never won on their six previous visits to face either Everton or neighbours Liverpool.
After their customary slow start, Everton have shown signs of improvement of late, winning their last two Premier League matches to climb into the top half of the table.
Their chances of continuing this winning streak by beating Stoke are additionally boosted by the expected returns of Sylvain Distin and Phil Neville from injury, while Jack Rodwell could also return from a rib problem.
Everton’s odds are 8/11 to beat Stoke, with the visitors 4/1 to collect the three points and leapfrog their opponents in the league standings.
It is 5/2 that the showdown ends all square, which is a viable option.
With Stoke typically finding goals hard to come by, the fixture also presents Everton a rare opportunity to keep a clean sheet.
Everton have failed to shut out the opposition in their last six games at Goodison Park, but 5/4 may represent decent value that they keep a clean sheet against Stoke, especially if defending set pieces adequately.
In terms of the game’s first goalscorer, it could be a case against the older versus the new for Everton.
Apostolos Vellios is Everton’s top scorer this season with three goals and could well be handed a start after impressing from the substitute’s bench.
The young Greek striker is 6/1 in the Premier League odds to open the scoring, with Tim Cahill the favourite in the market at 5/1, despite not finding the net in his last 21 league games.