A jaded Everton team are worth taking on when they head to bottom-of-the-table Norwich in the Premier League on Wednesday, says Andy Schooler.
"With match fitness lacking, a quick turnaround is hardly what Everton need right now, especially after putting in quite a shift against Liverpool."
Norwich v Everton
Wednesday June 24, 18:00
Live on BBC2 (1st half) and BBC 1 (2nd half)
Given Norwich lost their first post-lockdown game 3-0 at home to Southampton and Everton held champions-elect Liverpool to a goalless draw, it's not hard to see why the visitors are clear favourites.
Yet there's a factor in play here which could be very significant.
Tiredness a factor
Had this match taken place in February, I would not be particularly concerned about the fact that Norwich have had an extra 49 hours to prepare for the contest.
However, given the current circumstances, it could well play a big part in the outcome.
It was clear from viewing the first set of post-lockdown matches that few players were running at 100%, hardly surprising given the three-month lay-off.
With match fitness lacking, a quick turnaround is hardly what Everton need right now, especially after putting in quite a shift against Liverpool when they were chasing the ball for much of the game.
The minimal recovery period is compounded by the weather forecast with strength-sapping conditions expected. The temperature is predicted to hit 26C in Norfolk on matchday, be 24C at kick-off and still be above 20C come the final whistle.
Few Premier League matches are played in such conditions and this 'perfect storm' should make this a more level playing field than the odds suggest - Norwich are [4.2] shots to win the game with Everton at [1.97].
The hosts have already beaten the Toffees this season, winning 2-0 at Goodison in what was to prove one of the final nails in Marco Silva's coffin.
They've won just two of 17 league games since and were pretty awful in defeat to Southampton on Friday.
Defensive problems for Norwich
However, Daniel Farke isn't one to throw in the towel and he's vowed to continue with an attacking philosophy, one which saw Teemu Pukki and Josip Drmic both start in a 4-4-2 formation against the Saints.
Defensive injuries are an issue at the moment though with Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram all out. At least Timm Klose is fit again after 10 months out, while Marco Stiepermann could return for this game - if he gets the all-clear after his positive COVID-19 test.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti will surely have to make some changes, despite being pleased with how his side stymied Liverpool on Sunday evening.
Expect changes for visitors
Bernard and Gylfi Sigurdsson both look likely starters after Alex Iwobi and Anthony Gordon struggled to make an attacking impact in the derby. Others such as Leighton Baines will also be under consideration for a start, although Ancelotti has options restricted with the likes of Yerry Mina, Theo Walcott and Jean-Philippe Gbamin among those on the injured list.
Just shy of evens about the away win will seem value to some. Not me. After all, Everton have already lost at Brighton, Bournemouth and Villa this season.
The new five-subs rule will help Everton in terms of them overcoming fatigue but I'd still expect them to tire as the game wears on - and a that's a big concern for a side who are already among the worst in terms of second-half performance this season.
Everton likely to fade
Overall in that vector, Everton sit 18th. Away from home, they have the worst second-half record of all, scoring only five goals.
In contrast, they've been strong in the first half of games - they are fifth in a table of half-time 'results' and have netted 62% of their goals before the interval. That's a league-high figure.
You can get 5/1 about them scoring first in this game and failing to win which looks worth a punt.
It also looks worth backing another big price, namely the [7.0] about Norwich leading at both half time and full time.
Despite sitting rock-bottom, the Canaries have actually led at half time in eight of their 15 matches at Carrow Road.
If they do get ahead early on in this one, Everton's fatigue issues may stifle their chances of fighting back.
It is unlikely both bets will win but the aim is for one of them to due to a fading visiting team.
For those failing to sign up to the tiredness theory, going under the 2.5 goal-line could be the way forward.
Six of the first 11 games back saw under 2.5 goals, including Everton's derby draw, and there were several performances which lacked the usual Premier League energy.
Some rust may now have been shaken off but those tough weather conditions won't be conducive to a high-pressing, all-action game.
Going under 2.5 at [2.06] does fly in the face of the stats though - over 2.5 has landed in 67% of Norwich's home games and the same amount of Everton's away matches. That option can be backed at [1.88].
Everton have won just one of their eight Premier League away games against Norwich (D5 L2), winning 3-2 in October 2004.
Andy Schooler's P/L 2019/20
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0.5pt Norwich/Norwich HT/FT @ 7.0
0.5pt Everton to score first and not win @ 5/1 (Sportsbook)