This will be a tough task for newly-promoted WBA at Goodison Park and a second Everton win without conceding looks the way to go, says Jamie Pacheco...
"I wouldn’t be too surprised if this ends 1-0 again or perhaps 2-0 with a late goal but either way I really like the ‘Everton to win to nil’ approach."
Everton v West Brom
Saturday 19 September, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports
Rodriguez particularly impressive on debut
Everton finally had a transfer window to remember after two or three where they spent big, paid equally silly wages and ended up with a load of players who didn't always start, or did with indifferent results. Any one of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin, Yerri Mina, Alex Iwobi and Moises Kean come under that category.
Their three big signings of the summer- Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure- all had impressive games in their own right against Tottenham. Allan was hard-working, organised and neat in going about his business, Doucoure busy, physical and efficient while Rodriguez had one of those games where you wonder why he's struggled for form over the past few years. He was always free to receive the ball, never gave it away, passed when he should have and shot when he was entitled to.
Still only 29, he could really kickstart his career again at Goodison Park in front of fans (when they eventually return) who will surely idolise him in much the same way as Boro fans loved Juninho, Newcastle fans revered David Ginola or Liverpool fans adored Philippe Coutinho. There really is something special about the talented, carefree foreign playmaker.
If there's one concern about this Everton team it's that too often it's left to (Sunday's goalscorer) Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to get the goals. If the likes of Rodriguez and Doucoure can start chipping in with a few, they could have a really strong season.
Ivanovic a good addition but lots of work to do
Welcome to the Premier League. As if they weren't aware of the task they have ahead to stay in the division, a 3-0 loss at home to Leicester should have left them in no doubt.
Sometimes you get a result like that and just think that maybe you were a tad unlucky, but not in this case. WBA had just 36% possession, just the one shot on target and never really looked like scoring. And if it's true that they'll play easier teams than Leicester most weeks, it's also true that they'll play harder sides than them, as well.
A good step in the right direction was to sign Branislav Ivanovic. Few defenders know this league like the former Chelsea man and before people start saying he's certainly lost his pace at 36, it's worth remembering he never really had much of it anyway. He's just the sort of imposing, no-nonsense yet classy defender they can do with, with the added advantage that he can play on the right or in the middle, though this might be a game too soon for him.
They look a bit on the thin side upfront. With all due respect, Callum Robinson and Matheus Pereira don't look capable of scoring 10 goals a season at this level while Charlie Austin and Hal Robson-Kanu are probably well past their best. But attracting proven goalscorers at this stage of proceedings is easier said than done.
Price on away win justified
Let's play 'which stat to believe'. If you're in the Everton win (odds of 1.584/7) camp, you'll be glad to know from Opta that Everton have lost just twice in their last 12 at home to WBA, with the Toffees winning six and drawing four of those. Carlo Ancelotti certainly doesn't mind playing promoted sides, either. In the Premier League, he's unbeaten in 15 matches against them, enjoying 11 wins and four draws.
But not all stats are stacked in Everton's favour. Opta also tell us that WBA haven't lost their first away game of the season in the PL in their last six campaigns and that Everton haven't won any of their last four at home against promoted sides.
I just don't see the Baggies winning this game, even at inflated odds of 6.86/1 and even a draw would take a huge effort after what we saw from both sides last weekend. Then again, we can do better than backing a 1.584/7 shot even if we're pretty confident it will win.
Unders look decent
I always think it's a little irrelevant to look at the over/under 2.5 goals stats from the previous season when one of the sides is newly-promoted. After all, what's the relevance of comparing the number of WBA games away from home when last year they were playing the likes of Luton, Reading and Millwall rather than Everton, Liverpool and Spurs, say.
But for what it's worth, just 40% of their away games in The Championship went 'overs' and for Everton home games, it was just 37%, so you'd be tempted to be favouring 'unders' here at 1.824/5, though as we said, those stats are hardly foolproof.
My best bet for this game certainly isn't relying on too many stats. Instead, it relies more on common sense.
I said I was pretty confident Everton will win this but that odds of 1.584/7 didn't really do it for me so I'm more than happy to take the 13/8 that the hosts can win to nil. I said that WBA look a little bit uninspired in attack and that Everton were impressive in keeping a clean sheet at White Hart Lane last week.
It's not so easy to see how what was essentially the same back four that played during the backend of last season all of a sudden looks so much better but the truth is they do. Maybe it's just the benefits of having the manager in charge for pre-season.
I wouldn't be too surprised if this ends 1-0 again or perhaps 2-0 with a late goal but either way I really like the 'Everton to win to nil' approach.
Calvert-Lewin (10/11) and Richarlison (11/10) are understandably the favourites to score but given I don't think the game will necessarily have too many goals, I'm not sure I'd want to get involved at those sort of prices.
I'd much rather push the boat out a bit more and go with Rodriguez at 5/2, so lively did he look last week. He'll have few better chances to get on the scoresheet than at home to this lot.
Doucoure at 4/1 and Lucas Digne at 17/2 are others who might deserve a second look.
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Jmaie Pacheco's 2020-21 P and L
Points staked: 1
Points Returned: 0
P and L: -1