Toffees take on Black Cats as relegation battle rumbles on
Everton host the Premier League’s early Saturday kick-off, as Roberto Martinez’s revived men welcome struggling Sunderland to Goodison Park.
The terrific Toffees, a tempting 23/10 with Coral to at least take a draw, or odds-on at 4/5 to triumph, have been victors in their past five tussles on home turf across all competitions and recently put Manchester United to the sword.
They did come unstuck against relegation candidates Aston Villa last time out, conceding three, so their inconsistent and occasionally ramshackle rearguard could give hope to the travelling Mackems, who are 4/1 to take all three points.
Under experienced Dutch coach Dick Advocaat, the Black Cats still stand a chance of clawing their way out of the relegation dog fight, but are still stuck in the bottom three, one point behind currently safe Hull City ahead of this clash.
It is a must-win for the Stadium of Light side then, and big names will need to step up, though the Wearside team can take heart from their recent record of two victories and a draw in their last four duels with the Toffees.
Spanish schemer Jordi Gomez bagged a brace last time out as Sunderland shocked Southampton and is 5/1 to grab a goal again anytime, while in-form Connor Wickham has two in his past three outings and is 7/2 in the same market. Alternatively, back Tyne-Wear derby hero Jermain Defoe at an excellent 8/1 to net first.
For the hosts, Martinez, who experienced relegation woe with Wigan, will not be taking anything for granted after defeat at Villa Park. The Catalan coach told press: “They’ll be feeling focused and feeling there’s an opportunity. When you get down to the last 12 points like they have you see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not just having a fear of getting relegated, it’s more knowing what you have to do to achieve your aim.”
Big Belgian warrior Romelu Lukaku and compatriot Kevin Mirallas are Everton’s most dangerous attacking threats, and are respective 4/1 and 6/1 prices to strike first and last.
England dynamo Ross Barkley and ex-Lactics frontman Arouna Kone are also available to back, with the former an excellent 11/4 to be on target anytime and the latter superb value at 7/4 in the same market.