Stoke v Everton
Saturday, 15:00

Stoke desperately in need of wins

Stoke remain in deep trouble with the side second bottom of the Premier League with only eight matches remaining. Paul Lambert has brought in a defensive solidity since his arrival in January but wins have still proved hard to come by. Stoke have only won once under him, in their opening victory over Huddersfield, in seven matches which will need to increase quickly if they are to avoid relegation.
There was no disgrace in their 2-0 home defeat to champions elect Manchester City on Monday but Lambert will know his side need to win games such as this weekend if they are to haul themselves out of the bottom three. The Scot has helped tighten up their defence, conceding just six goals in seven games, but the Potters have failed to net in their last two matches. With a tough run of games coming up, it is imperative City take maximum points against Everton.

No sign of Everton's travel sickness ending

Everton are likely to finish in the top half of the table but Sam Allardyce's side have too often been uninspiring and there is no guarantee he will be in charge next season. Fans have failed to buy into the former England manager and their results away from home have been hugely disappointing. The Toffees have lost their last six matches on the road including the FA Cup defeat at rivals Liverpool.
At least their form at Goodison Park is much better with the team beating Brighton 2-0 last weekend. But Everton will have to manage without record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson after the midfielder was ruled out for up to eight weeks with a knee injury. This is a blow for the Toffees but they will be hoping striker Cenk Tosun can continue his progress after the January signing scored his second goal in as many games during last week's win.

Big opportunity for hosts to prevail

This looks a big opportunity for Stoke to claim a vital win against an Everton team which has lost five consecutive away league games. The hosts are installed as 2.54 favourites which is understandable although it does not scream value. Stoke surely need to win this match if they are to avoid relegation but there are other ways of boosting the price on a home victory.
Everton are priced up at 3.15 and this offers no appeal considering their wretched away record. The visitors cannot buy a win on the road with just one victory all season in the league. There is no value in backing Everton to win this weekend and much more needs to be seen from Allardyce's side before siding with them away from Goodison Park.
The draw is on offer at 3.30 and has to be considered. Prior to their defeat to Man City, Stoke drew their previous three games but stalemates are not going to be enough to keep them in the division so they need to take a positive approach. Only one of Everton's last 11 matches have ended level which is also enough evidence to swerve this outcome in a game which is critical for Stoke.

Stoke can win low-scoring match

All of Stoke's seven games under Lambert have produced no more than three goals. Under 3.5 goals is predictably short but it is worth backing the hosts to win with three goals or less. This enhances their odds to 2/1 and is a tempting proposition. Everton look there for the taking but Stoke are unlikely to land a high-scoring victory having failed to win by more than two goals in the league this season.

Ref Watch

Martin Atkinson takes charge of this weekend's game and the referee has sent off four players this season. Atkinson only gave out three red cards in 43 matches during the previous campaign.

Opta Stat

Stoke have lost only one of their last eight home league games against Everton (W2 D5), losing 3-0 back in February 2016. The hosts are 1/3 to avoid defeat this weekend.
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Stoke to win and under 3.5 goals

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