EVERTON welcome Salford to Goodison Park for the second round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) shares his verdict.
Everton vs Salford | Wednesday 16th September 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
We’re only one game into the new season but it’s hard not to be excited by Everton. Their transfer business looks first class, and Sunday’s win got them off to the perfect start.
It was Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s thumping header that sealed all three points for the Toffees, in a game where James Rodríguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré all made their debuts. And all three give this side a fine balance in and out of possession, which many Premier League sides would want.
Salford shared the spoils with last season’s beaten play-off finalists Exeter in their opening League 2 game. Goals in each half from veteran Ian Henderson and Ash Hunter earned the point but manager Graham Alexander was far from happy with his side.
After taking an early lead, Alexander lamented his sides’ sloppiness in the first half, which saw them go into the half-time break 2-1 behind. After the game, he spoke about getting the basics right and his players needing to learn fast, if they want to win more games.
He can have a free hit and fine-tune some of those basics in this trip to Goodison Park, which comes as a result of knocking Championship newbies Rotherham out on penalties in the first round.
There’s been progression on the pitch for the Ammies but this looks to be a bridge too far. Despite beating Rotherham in the previous round, they had only two shots, with just one on target. And that exposes a few limitations, so something will need to click for them to trouble the Toffees.
Fringe players given a chance
Everton are best priced at 1/5 with SkyBet to win in 90 minutes here, which you’d expect against their lower league rivals. But it will be an opportunity for Carlo Ancelotti to give his fringe players some much-needed game time.
Last season, when Marco Silva was in charge, the Toffees went to Lincoln and started Jordan Pickford, Lucas Digne, Michael Kean, Mason Holgate and Richarlison among others.
It’s unlikely Ancelotti will go with those here but it should be a fairly strong Everton side. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Moise Kean and Tom Davies were the three subs used on Sunday, so you’d imagine those would start along with Theo Walcott and Bernard, so that highlights some depth in the more attacking areas.
The pressure will be on the Toffees to perform. They’ve never lost to a fourth tier side in the League Cup, winning 17 of their 18 such games, and most of the markets reflect what should be a professional and dominant home display.
The betting angles
Cup ties are always hard to call with the number of changes Everton are likely to make compared to Salford. Is there a sweepstake or bar set for the amount of mentions the ‘Class of 92’ will get during the game?
In all seriousness, I’m keen to side with one man who is likely to start for the hosts – Tom Davies.
The young midfielder should get the chance to impress Ancelotti and prove his worth to the side. And this is the sort of game you’d want him to dictate and run the midfield.
In last season’s League Cup, Davies was on the scoresheet as Everton went out on penalties after a 2-2 draw with fellow top-flight side Leicester. While in the 18/19 campaign, he registered a shot on target against lower league Rotherham.
He likes to pop up with late runs and usually finds himself on the edge of the box. At the time of writing, it’s just Sky Bet that has these markets priced up and there are two options. He’s 10/11 for 2+ shots, while it’s 10/3 for a shot on-target, which does look tempting.
Two other potential angles were with former Toffee Darron Gibson having a shot at 10/11. He made just 51 appearances in a five-year spell with Everton. We know he can have a pop from distance, plus he’s likely to be high on the list of free-kick takers around the edge of the box.
The other was around second-half goals. Everton’s four League Cup ties last year saw eight of the 14 goals scored come after the break. While Salford’s first-round tie saw both goals come in the last ten minutes. Plus, their 3-0 defeat to Leeds last season saw two second-half goals.
Over 1.5 Goals in the second half is tight enough at 4/5 but that’s generally when the games open up, especially if Ancelotti is forced to bring more quality onto the pitch if it’s level to avoid the chance of penalties.
One final point I’ll make is that when you consider the calendars of some teams that are likely to be competing with Everton in the league, then the Toffees are likely to have a quieter time of things.
With that in mind, I’ve seen worse ante-post pokes than the current 22/1 with William Hill on Ancelotti guiding Everton to their first piece of silverware in 25 years.
Everton v Salford – Tom Davies 1+ shot on-target (10/3 SkyBet)