Everton host Aston Villa on BT Sport on Saturday night and Steve Rawlings thinks the home side are worth taking on...
“Everton have won an average of just 1.19 points per game at Goodison Park this season, they’ve won only one of their last nine home league games and they have to be opposed.”
Everton v Aston Villa
Saturday May 1 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Home form a huge concern for the Toffees
After a run of six games in all competitions without success, a 1-0 win at Arsenal last weekend, their first away victory against the Gunners in 25 years, has rekindled Everton's faint hopes of Champions League qualification.
With just six Premier League games remaining, the Toffees are six points adrift of Chelsea in fourth, but they have a game in hand on all the other teams vying for a top-four slot. Having been matched at a high of 150.0149/1 and a low of 3.02/1, Everton are now 26.025/1 chances to finish inside the top-four but that doesn't look generous.
Carlos Ancelotti declared that "Everton are finally back" after their hard-fought success at the Emirates but it was a game that could have gone either way and the Toffees winning away from home doesn't come as any sort of a surprise.
They lost away to Chelsea at the beginning of March but that was their only Premier League defeat away from home since they lost to Newcastle 2-1 way back on November 1.
Since that defeat to the Magpies away, Everton have lost to Manchester United, Leeds, West Ham, Newcastle, Fulham, Manchester City and Burnley at home. Their home and away form is like chalk and cheese.
Sitting fifth in the Premier League Away table, with 33 points from 16 games, Everton's form on the road is far superior to their form at Goodison Park and the Toffees sit 15th in the Premier League Home table having won just 19 points.
Incredibly, given how much of a fortress Goodison Park has been over the years, Ancelotti's team have lost more games at home than they've won this season (7-6) and they don't hold any appeal at just a shade of odds-against in the outright market.
Apart from Leicester, who seem to be marching serenely on to Europe, all the top-four contenders have been struggling of late and I don't see any reason why Everton won't feel the pressure on Saturday.
Grealish a huge loss for the Villans
Rumours are rife that Aston Villa's talisman, Jack Grealish, will be on his way in the summer and that's a huge concern for Villa fans.
If anyone had any doubt whatsoever about Grealish's importance in the side, they only need to look at their form since he picked up a shin injury in training in early February.
They've won just two of the ten Premier League games played without him since and they've scored only ten goals but Manager, Dean Smith, dismisses claims that Villa's slump in form is due to the midfield maestro's absence.
"The offensive side is what has dropped off, probably since the COVID break (in January) to be honest, even with Jack in the team."
But Smith is confident his side can end the season on a high, with or without their star man.
"I have said many times my teams normally finish seasons well and I expect them to do so again this season."
They certainly deserved better last weekend when they needed a stoppage time Keinan Davis strike just to earn a 2-2 draw at home to West Brom, but it was a game in which they were far the better side, as the xG of 3.17 - 1.77 demonstrates.
Like the hosts, Villa have played 16 Premier League games at home and 16 away so far this season and although it's not anywhere near as stark as Everton's disparity, Villa's away form is better than their home form.
The Villans have won 24 points on the road and just 21 at Villa Park. They've already won seven times away from home this season and that's more times than Everton have won at home.
Everton have to be taken on
Looking at the side markets, Yes is odds-on in the Both teams to Score market and I don't see any value in No. Both teams have scored in 62% of Everton's home games this season and although only 38% of Villa's away games have seen both sides find the net, both teams have scored in each of their last four Premier League games.
The Over/Under 2.5 Goals market is a tricky one to call but I'd just favour Under at odds-against. So far this season, 50% of Everton's home games have seen at least three goals scored but there have been three or more scored in only seven of Villa's 16 away.
The goals were drying up across the Premier League throughout March, with only 36% of games producing three or more goals but that changed significantly in April with the percentage shooting up to 66% so it's hard to gauge.
The absence of Grealish is a huge hindrance for Villa but Everton have won an average of just 1.19 points per game at Goodison Park this season, they've won only one of their last nine home league games and they have to be opposed.
Staked: 55.75 pts
Returned: 57.17 pts
P/L: +1.42 pts