Well-rested Everton looking to get back on track
Everton's early season form under new boss, Rafa Benitez, was reasonable enough and they lost just one of their opening seven games in the Premier League. The fixture list was kind enough to start the campaign though and their fans wouldn't have expected anything less than a maximum nine-point haul from their first three home games, against Southampton, Burnley, and Norwich.
The Toffees also beat Sunday's opponents, Brighton, (2-0), in their second away game and when they drew 1-1 at Manchester United at the start of October, so hopes will have been high for a reasonable season under the new boss, but it's been a struggle ever since the Old Trafford stalemate.
Everton have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games and that was courtesy of a 90th minute wonder strike by Demarai Gray when they came from 1-0 down at halftime to beat Arsenal 2-1.
Benitez will have been frustrated not to have played over the festive period as he'd have wanted to build on that victory and the Toffees' 1-1 draw away at Chelsea on December 16, which was the last time they played.
There was a 1-3 defeat to Crystal Palace in-between the Arsenal win and the Chelsea draw but after a run of games that saw them lose six of seven, they looked to be beginning to go in the right direction and the break probably hasn't helped.
Draw Specialists Brighton tough nuts to crack
In contrast to the hosts, Brighton have been able to play on over the holiday period and they've performed admirably too - beating Brentford 2-0 on Boxing Day before drawing 1-1 at Chelsea on Wednesday night - and that wasn't any sort of fluke.
When Everton left Stamford Bridge with a point it was very much against the run of play, with the xG figures reading 3.54 - 0.64 in favour of Chelsea, but the Seagulls deserved at least a draw if the xG of 1.05 - 0.92 in favour of Brighton is any sort of gauge.
Graham Potter's charges are not winning many games but they're really tough to beat and especially so on the road. Brighton have lost just one of nine away games in the Premier League so far this season and there were mitigating circumstances then given they bumped into Aston Villa at just the wrong time.
Villa were completely rejuvenated under brand-new boss, Steven Gerard, when they hosted Brighton a little over a month ago. It was the ex-Liverpool stars first game in charge and it's fair to say they were up for the fight but the Seagulls still kept them out for 83 minutes, before going on to lose 0-2.
Brighton have now drawn nine of their last 13 Premier League games and six of their last seven on the road. They really are tough nuts to crack.
Brighton can edge tight affair
Looking at the side markets, there's barely anything to choose between Yes and No in the Both teams to Score market and Yes at around the even money mark looks very fair. Both teams have found the net in 62% of Everton's home games and in 67% of Brighton's away matches.
Anyone looking for a correct score bet should carefully consider 1-1 at around 7.06/1 given both teams played out a 1-1 stalemate with Chelsea last time out and that Brighton have drawn four of their last eight Premier League games 1-1. And it's hard to argue against the 1.75/7 for Under in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market given there have been less than three goals scored in each of Brighton's last eight Premier League encounters.
Odds of around 7/4 for 0-0 in the Half Time Score market look more than fair given three of Everton's home games and three of Brighton's away matches have been 0-0 at the break and that both sides start slowly. Everton have been in front just once at half time at home all season, and that was 1-0 against bottom club Norwich, and Brighton are yet to lead at the break away from home.
Brighton have a habit of battling back when trailing and they've drawn five of their last seven away games in the Premier League having trailed at the break but Everton start so poorly at Goodison Park that the chances of the Seagulls trailing at half time on Sunday look slim.
I'm not remotely tempted by odds of around 7/4 about the hosts in the outright market. They've failed to win 10 of their last 11 matches in the Premier League and as already mentioned, Brighton have been beaten just once away from home all season. The Toffees have certainly struggled with injuries but even so, that's a poor run of form and they make no appeal whatsoever. And their record in their opening fixture of the year doesn't offer any encouragement either...
Everton have lost their first league game in each of the last four calendar years whereas Brighton have lost their first league game in just one of the last 12 calendar years. All four of their games in the Premier League, over the last four years, have ended in a draw.
There's been money for the visitors since their draw at Chelsea and having opened-up at 3.259/4 they're now (understandably) trading at less than 2/1 and I wouldn't want to put anyone off backing the draw at around 3.39/4 either but the bet I like is Brighton in the Draw No Bet market at around the even money mark.
That looks like a reasonably safe bet given Everton's current form and for the icing on the cake, I'm also having a small wager on Draw/Brighton in the Half Time/Full Time market.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter