FA Cup Betting Preview: Liverpool vs. Everton: Old Enemies do battle for a place in the fourth round
Friday night sees FA Cup third round action on Merseyside with the red half taking on the blue half at Anfield for the second time in less than a month. December’s encounter saw Sam Allardyce’s men peg back Jurgen Klopp’s team with a 77th minute Wayne Rooney penalty equalising the prolific Mo Salah’s first half strike.
The 1-1 draw was only Allardyce’s second Premier League match in charge of the Toffees and his first away from Goodison. As was expected following Everton’s poor start to the season, Big Sam’s early tenure was all about shoring things up at the back and bringing some consistency to a defence struggling for form under Ronald Koeman. The smash and grab nature of Rooney’s late spot-kick was the Allardyce game-plan executed to perfection. But the blueprint seems to have been lost in recent encounters with no win since the 3-1 defeat of Swansea at home – a week after the Liverpool match. Since then, they’ve started to leak goals and have struggled to hit the back of then net themselves, only scoring once.
If, as is expected, Virgil van Dijk makes his long-anticipated Liverpool debut, the chance of Everton breaking their barren run looks increasingly slim. If you fancy Liverpool to win comfortably, booking their place in the FA Cup fourth round, and van Dijk to keep it tight at the back, you can get 11/1 odds of a 1-0 score line at half-time and 2-0 win at full time with Paddy Power.
And there’s no reason to bet against it, with Liverpool having been flying of late. Since the disappointment in December’s derby, they’ve been in thrilling goal scoring form managing a total of 16 goals. Much of that has been down to the continued form of Salah; the Egyptian scored his 18th and 19th Premier League goals of the season in the recent win over Leicester. However, the fleet-footed forward was missing for the New Year’s Day trip to Burnley and is a doubt for Friday’s fixture. The same can be said of the influential Philippe Coutinho who’s also expected to miss the match; whether he’ll be seen again in Liverpool colours is a huge question with Barcelona looking prepped to rekindle their summer interest with another bid.
With two of the fab four potentially out of action, the attacking burden for the home side will fall on Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. The latter hit a stunning strike at Turf Moor and looks likely to trouble Everton with his pace and directness. In Everton’s loss at home to Manchester United on New Year’s Day Cuco Martina was used as a make-shift left back with Leighton Banes still out with injury. Mane will no doubt look to exploit this potential weak link with his pace and movement, as well as trying to run at the centre-half partnership of Michael Keane and Ashley Williams – something Jesse Lingard did to great effect on January 1st. We’re backing Mane to build on his strike at Burnley and capitalise on this current leaky Toffees rear-guard. He’s 9/2 with Paddy Power to score two or more goals.
The form book for this encounter is all Liverpool, with Everton last winning away against their great rivals in 1999. Prior to last month’s fixture, Liverpool have won the last two Anfield meetings between the sides 3-1 and 4-0. On current form it’s difficult to see anything other than a Liverpool win.
It’s been an extremely difficult season for Everton’s supporters. It started with stodgy performances under Koeman and flirting with the bottom three before Allardyce’s appointment. The initial boost a new manager brings seems to have faded and with it the fans’ patience. During the match with United the frustration from the stands was audible, especially when Rooney was withdrawn in the second half. If the new manager is to get the fans on side and turn things around he’ll need much more in the final third. They’re buoyed by the return of Yannick Bolasie who’ll offer pace and power as well as an option to stretch the Liverpool defence. If the former Palace winger can work in tandem with the awkwardness of Oumar Niasse it could be Everton’s best hope of coming away in the hat for the fourth round. Currently, however, it looks beyond them considering the bolstering of Liverpool’s defence and the firepower they offer going forward with two of the fab four and the return of Adam Lallana.
We think it’ll be more disappointment on the Friday night walk across Stanley Park for the blue side of the city. If you agree and want to know the best sites to place your bets check out our list of the best betting sites.
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