Everton v Wolves: Hosts are in serious trouble
Everton are in the midst of a relegation battle, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't think things will necessarily improve against a dangerous Wolves...
Lampard has more questions than answers
After a 5-0 humbling at Tottenham on Monday night, an ashen-faced Frank Lampard pulled no punches in his assessment of the display, as the Everton boss outlined what had gone wrong. He highlighted a glut of mistakes, declared that a number of individual performances weren't up to scratch, and voiced his frustration that the performance level had dipped so much after the battling defeat to Manchester City.
Make no mistake, this is a genuine relegation battle for the Merseyside giants. Their next six games are against Wolves, in-form Newcastle, West Ham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. Everton's price of 4.6 in the Exchange's Relegation market could well contract in the next few weeks, so if you think they could tumble into the Championship, now's the time to back that eventuality.
It's not just Everton's reputation at stake. Lampard always speaks with eloquence and sincerity, but he failed to win promotion with a Derby County side that spent heavily, his achievements as Chelsea boss were swiftly eclipsed by his successor Thomas Tuchel, and he has taken on a huge challenge at Goodison Park. The Toffees have lost seven of their last eight league matches, they have only won two of their last nine at Goodison Park, and they have conceded 46 goals in just 25 league matches.
Ben Godfrey and Demarai Gray hope for recalls after returning to full fitness. Tom Davies, Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph are all out.
Ruthless Wolves are on a high
Wolves won't meet many opponents that are as obliging as Watford were on Thursday night, but they still showed an impressive cutting edge in a 4-0 win at Molineux. Hornets' keeper Ben Foster was punished by two moments of brilliance - the first was an outstanding finish from Daniel Podence, as the Portuguese winger curled the ball home after an out-of-position Foster had presented the ball straight to him, and the second was the most exquisite of chipped finishes from Ruben Neves. Before that, Raul Jimenez had produced a predatory finish, and Cucho Hernandez had been forced into an own goal.
It was a fine response from Bruno Lage's Wolves after an abject home defeat to Crystal Palace, a result and performance that seemed to truly agitate the manager. Wolves are still very much in the mix for European qualification, but a run of six wins and four defeats in their last ten league outings highlights their lack of consistency.
Regular readers will know that whenever I preview Wolves games, I tend to bang on about Expected Goals differential, and this time is no different. According to Infogol data, Wolves should have scored five more goals and conceded seven more, so their games are not quite as dull as the raw numbers in the standings suggest. To give you an example, Aston Villa have scored 12 goals more than Wolves in the Premier League this term, but they actually have a lower xGF (Expected Goals For) figure than Wolves.
After Thursday's action, Lage may rotate his side, with Max Kilman primed to return to the defence, and Pedro Neto pushing for a return.
Backing Everton would require leap of faith
The Match Odds don't seem rooted in reality here, with Everton the 2.34 favourites. That seems far too short, with the Merseyside team having won just six of their 25 games all season. The only side they've beaten in the league in 2022 is Leeds United, and they are on even worse form than Everton.
Wolves have lost their last two on the road, but those defeats were against top-six sides Arsenal and West Ham, who are far superior to Everton. The West Midlands outfit actually has one of the best away records in the division, with 23 points collected from 14 matches.
I'll get Wolves on our side here by backing them +0 & +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.94. If the game is drawn, we get a half-win, but if there's an away success, we get a full pay-out at close to evens.
Don't be surprised to see goals
Over 2.5 Goals in trading at 2.4, and that seems chunky given Everton's defensive deficiencies. Five of Wolves' last ten PL games have featured at least three goals, as have six of Everton's last ten. At Goodison, seven of the last 12 top-flight games have contained three goals or more.
If you want to combine the two ideas, you can use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder to throw in Wolves/Draw Double Chance and Over 1.5 Goals at 2.24 on the Sportsbook.
Alternatively, back Wolves/Draw Double Chance and Wolves to have at least three shots on target on the Bet Builder at 2.02. Wolves have averaged 3.43 shots on target per 90 in the PL this season, while Everton are giving up 4.92 shots on target per game, the third-highest figure in the top flight.
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