Everton v Burnley: Goal shortage set to continue at Goodison
Everton host Burnley on Saturday evening with the home side seeking Champions League qualification and the visitors searching for survival. Steve Rawlings fancies a low scoring affair...
Toffees Top-4 dream's alive but home form needs to improve
After their third Premier League victory in-a-row, a hard-fought 1-0 win away at West Brom two weeks ago, Carlos Ancelotti's Everton briefly climbed up in to fourth place in the Premier League table but the boss wasn't getting carried away.
"At the start of the season no-one could say Everton, after 26 games, would be there. The dream is the Champions League - it would be fantastic to follow this dream. It's a step in the career of everyone.
"If I look at the table I'm really happy because the position is good but it's not the end of the season and we have to fight."
Just a few hours after the West Brom win, Chelsea edged ahead of the Toffees in the table thanks to a 1-0 win away at Liverpool, and the Blues comfortably beat Everton 2-0 at Stamford Bridge last weekend to ease four points ahead.
Ancelotti was as straightforward and honest as ever after the game.
"They played better than us. They deserved to win. We were good defensively for 30 minutes. When they scored, the game became difficult for us. They are a good team."
The score line didn't flatter Chelsea, in fact, Jordan Pickford made a number of saves to keep the score down and it was a bit of a reality check after a good run. Having been matched at a low of 3.0 at the start of the season, they're now out to a double-figure price to finish inside the top-four and if they're going to achieve the feat, they're going to have to improve their home form.
The defeat at Chelsea was Everton's first on the road in the Premier League since November and it ended a nine-game unbeaten away run in the competition but it's a completely different story at Goodison Park where they've won just five of 13 in the Premier League this season.
The Toffees' 1-0 victory against a badly out of form Southampton side on March 1 was their first win at home in six at Goodison Park in the Premier League and it was their first at home in the competition since before Christmas.
The Toffees have lost four of their last six home league games and that's as many as they had lost in their previous 22 at Goodison Park.
As an indication of how much better they are on the road this season, Everton are placed fourth in the Premier League Away table, behind only Leicester and the two Manchester clubs, yet they languish in 14th place in the Home table.
Battling Burnley set to survive
Having been matched at odds-on for the drop, Sean Dyche's Burnley are battling hard to stay in the Premier League and since losing 2-0 to Manchester City, they've lost just one of their last seven in the competition - although it's noteworthy that four of their last five games have been played at Turf Moor.
Unlike Saturday's opponents, the Clarets are a much better side at home and in contrast to Everton, Burnley sit 10th in the Premier League Home table and as low as 18th in the Away table.
Fulham's recent rally has made it interesting at the bottom of the table and they've eased eight points clear of the two teams that now look doomed at the bottom - West Brom and Sheffield United.
The Cottagers have tagged themselves on to a group of three - Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley - and the quartet are separated by just four points.
According to the market, Newcastle are now the most likely team to join the Baggies and the Blades but it can all change very quickly and Dyche will be desperate not to lose any momentum.
Burnley are hard to beat now and they've drawn five of their last seven Premier League games but progress is slow. Only Sheffield United (16) have scored less goals than Burnley (20) so far this season and the Clarets have only won one of their last nine in the competition.
Another low scoring game looks likely
Although they won their next two games, 1-0 against West Brom and Southampton, Everton haven't really impressed since they beat Liverpool at Anfield and given nine of their 14 wins this season have come away from home, they make no appeal here at odds-on against a typically dogged Dyche side digging in to avoid the drop.
It's equally hard to make a case for the visitors given they score so few goals and that they've only won three times on the road this season so by default, the draw looks like the value play in the outright market but Under in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market looks like the best way to go here looking at the stats...
Goals were going in left right and centre at the beginning of this fans-free and unique season and towards the end of October, the goals-per-game ratio stood at an incredible 3.58. That figure was remarkably high given last season's average was 2.72 but it's gone the other way since and the running season average currently stands at only 2.62.
The 195 games played in November, December, January and February produced a total of 485 goals, equating to an average of just 2.49, and the goals have really dried up in March...
So far this month, only four of the 19 games played have produced three or more goals. With 38 scored in total, the average goals per game is exactly two and that's after Wednesday night's goal-fest at the Etihad, where the champions-elect, Manchester City, beat Southampton 5-2. Prior to that, the average for the month was just 1.72!
Add into the equation that there have been under 2.5 goals in each of the last four meetings between these two teams, in each of Everton's last four matches in the Premier League, and in 12 of Burnley's last 15 in the competition, and the industry-best of 5/6 with the Sportsbook for Under 2.5 looks well worth taking.
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