Everton v Atalanta: With the pressure off, Toffees can flourish

David Unsworth has struggled to improve Everton's defending
David Unsworth has struggled to improve Everton's defending
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Everton's Europa League dream has turned to dust, but Kevin Hatchard thinks they can make a gesture of defiance against Atalanta...

"Everton have conceded at least twice in their last seven games, and Atalanta haven't managed a clean sheet on the road all season."

Back Over 2.5 Goals at [1.9] (Sportsbook product)

Everton v Atalanta
Thursday November 23, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 2

Rudderless Everton only have pride to play for

Everton are still looking for a permanent successor to Ronald Koeman, with David Unsworth trying to hold the fort as best he can. While he clearly has passion and lives and breathes the club, the youth coach and former defender hasn't really been able to turn the team's fortunes around.

The Toffees are already out of the Europa League with two games to go, and they are only three points above the dropzone in the Premier League.

The biggest problem for Everton has been the repeated concession of cheap goals. They have conceded at least twice in each of their last seven matches in all competitions, they have leaked ten goals in four Europa League matches, and they have the second-worst defensive record in the Premier League, with 25 goals conceded in just 12 games.

Unsworth is likely to heavily rotate his squad, with a huge game coming up against Southampton. Tom Davies should play, as he is suspended for the weekend, and the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Williams may be given the chance to stake their claims, after they were omitted from the team for the recent 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace.

Atalanta keen to end chronic case of travel sickness

Atalanta have been exceeding expectations for some time now. They stunned everyone by reaching the Europa League in the first place, and now they stand on the brink of reaching the last 32 with a game to spare. Given that this is their first European campaign for 27 years, this is a massive achievement.

Atalanta will progress if they win or draw, but they will be through anyway unless Apollon Limassol somehow win at Lyon in the other group fixture. That may be just as well, because Atalanta's away form is nothing to write home about.

The Bergamo-based side have found life tough on the road this season. They have lost three of their last four matches away from home in all competitions, and they haven't won a single game on their travels. In the Europa League, they have managed 1-1 draws at Lyon and Apollon.

Coach Gian Piero Gasperini doesn't have too many injury problems. Leonardo Spinazzola is the only key player struggling to be fit.

Everton to play with rare freedom, and that might help them

Everton seem to have been behind the eight ball for months, so a bit of respite will do them no harm. There are no big consequences if they lose, and they might as well enjoy what looks like it'll be their final European home game for a while.

Even though Unsworth will make changes, it won't be an unrecognisable team, and some players may look to seize their chance to stake a claim for a Premier League place.

Atalanta are firm favourites here, but I can't excited about a team that hasn't won a single away game all season.

You can back Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at [1.75], and even at that price I think it's worth doing.

Expect goals at Goodison yet again

Everton's defensive issues have been offset recently by the fact they have scored five goals in their last two Premier League matches. Meanwhile, Atalanta haven't kept a single clean sheet on their travels this season.

On that basis, I like the look of backing Over 2.5 Goals on the Sportsbook at [1.9].

Recommended Bets
Back Over 2.5 Goals at [1.9] (Betfair Sportsbook)
Back Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at [1.75]

2017-18 Europa League Group Stage P/L

Points Staked: 25

Points Returned: 29.02

P/L: +4.02 points

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