EVERTON welcome Man Utd in Wednesday night's EFL Cup quarter-final encounter. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) delivers his betting analysis.
Everton vs Manchester United| Wednesday 23rd December 2020, 20:00 | Sky Sports
The last domestic match pre-Christmas sees Man United travel to Goodison Park with a League Cup semi-final place up for grabs.
Despite these two both occupying spots in the top four of the Premier League, this presents a more realistic opportunity of silverware, in April, with Liverpool once again looking irresistible on their quest to defend their crown.
In the league, the Toffees won for the third successive time on Saturday, seeing off struggling Arsenal 2-1. Meanwhile, Man Utd flew out of the traps to put six past Leeds on Sunday.
A Christmas cracker
These two met here just last month in the league when Man Utd came from behind to win 3-1. Bruno Fernandes was on the scoresheet twice, before Edinson Cavani sealed the three points, in stoppage time on the break, right at the death.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men have all eight domestic away games in league and cup, despite looking unconvincing at times.
Those eight matches have yielded 34 goals in total, at an average of 4.3 per game. All six of their league matches have seen a minimum of four goals, while their two away games in this competition have seen 3-0 wins at Luton and Brighton.
The numbers aren’t too dissimilar for Carlo Ancelotti’s men either. It’s the same total goals (34) in just one more league and cup match played here at Goodison. So, that’s an average of 3.8 goals per game.
Rotation is likely with the hectic festive period, just like the season, so going with player bets is something to decide when the team news arrives. But, I’m still happy to take a goals bet given those numbers.
You can get even-money for both teams to score and over two goals in a Bet Builder on Bet365.
With a place in a semi-final at stake, I’d imagine both managers to go fairly strong from the start in an attempt to get the game won, however, that might be. There’s plenty of attacking threat in both sides to see this come in.
Everton have only kept one clean sheet in the league on home turf. That was against Chelsea when they rode their luck at times, with Reece James thundering two attempts off the woodwork. And, with the way Man Utd cut Everton open last month, it’s well worth backing goals.
Backing a similar trend?
Man Utd’s early troubles on the road have been well documented in recent weeks, so the fact there’s some 10/1 on them coming from behind to win, in normal time, seems big.
Dean Henderson got caught out with the ball at his feet in the first couple of minutes at Sheffield Utd, so if he starts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Everton pressing high to try and take advantage of that.
One thing that did catch my eye was how strong the Toffees do start. In their three league cup ties against sides from the Premier League, League 1 and League 2, they’ve struck early.
Goals in the eighth, 11th and 22nd minutes have seen them take early control, and, their league form is quite similar. In four of seven home league games, they’ve scored first.
They’ve done just that against Brighton, Chelsea, Arsenal, and, of course, their league clash last month when Bernard scored in the 13th minute.
What makes interesting reading is that five of Everton’s seven home league games have seen both sides find the net in the opening 45 minutes. If you’re fancying a fast start, then both teams to score in the first half at 3/1 could be a nice way in.
Meanwhile, there’s some 6/5 knocking around on the Toffees bagging a first-half goal, something they’ve done 10 times in 14 games in all comps.
Something to note
Given the potential for team alterations, I wasn’t keen to delve too deep into the stats for player props. And then when the referee was announced, it detracted from a cards angle.
Andy Madley is one of the most lenient officials going. His last seven outings have seen just 10 cards, with none of those games seeing three or more. So, I would find it tough to back cards.
When I previewed this game in the league, I went with Allan in the card market, just as a player to try to upset Man Utd’s rhythm and to stop counter-attacks. It could be a similar angle for whoever starts in those holding midfield roles for the hosts.
And, as we know, holding/central midfielders and full-backs are generally the main candidates.
But, going through some recent Everton games did highlight an area where opposition players are carded. That’s the left-back or left centre-back area.
These are the players in those areas that have been booked of late v Everton:
- Kieran Tierney has gone down as playing as the left-sided defender of a back-three, and he was carded.
- Christian Fuchs at left-back
- Antonee Robinson at left-back
- Liam Cooper as the left-sided central defender in a back four
- Thiago Silva as the left-sided central defender in a back four
Solskjær has an array of left-backs to choose from – Luke Shaw, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams – then there are the more central defenders to consider.
I’ll wait for team news before deciding my approach with that angle, but it’s something to also look out for, especially if Everton are doing plenty of their attacking down the right.
I’ll be playing the two bets below at good prices pre-match. Who will have the nightmare before Christmas?