Like much of the mid-table teams in this season’s Premier League, Everton and Leicester City have consistently confounded expectations in both negative and positive ways. Their meeting at Goodison Park takes on a new level of importance considering the two sides’ recent results.
Trying to read in to the form of either side is the punting equivalent of trying to read Sanskrit. Let’s start with Everton.
Of their last five, the Toffees have lost three, won once and drawn one.
Defeats to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are expected. Conceding nine goals in those two games however is concerning to say the least.
After losing 6-2 to Spurs in front of their own fans, Marco Silva’s men managed to right the ship next time out with a 5-1 dismantling of Burnley. They then drew a blank in losing 1-0 to Brighton.
🗣 | Marco admits we weren't at our best today, but feels we had enough chances to get a different result. #EFCawayday
— Everton (@Everton) December 29, 2018
Leicester are also coming off the back of a defeat. Arguably, a far more damaging one.
After pulling off a potential season defining double of beating Manchester City and Chelsea, Claude Puel’s side lost to relegation candidates Cardiff.
Claude Puel's verdict on yesterday's defeat by Cardiff City…#LeiCar
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 30, 2018
In terms of form players and goalscorers, the home side are enjoying the benefits of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s revival this season, ten league goals at the half-way point of the season is good going. Richarlison too has proven to be a success with nine goals, as well as being directly involved in five goals in his last five Premier League matches at Goodison Park.
As you’d expect, Jamie Vardy is Leicester’s leading light with six strikes. However the former England international has been voicing his displeasure with how his side set up. That being said he enjoys playing Everton – being involved in six goals in his seven Premier League appearances against Everton, scoring four and assisting two.
Whilst it’s tricky to parse the two teams’ respective form lines, we can differentiate between two distinct styles of play. Puel and Leicester the more conservative, Everton and Silva far less organised but more dangerous.
Silva’s side have scored six more than Leicester, Puel’s team have conceded seven less than their opposition for this game.
If recent form is more confusing than enlightening then historic evidence may be the way to go.
Everton have won four of their last five league matches against Leicester, that’s recent and relevant enough to take to the bank in my opinion.
The last time they lined out at Goodison was that harrowing defeat to Spurs, and while they may have exercised some demons with the 5-1 win over Burnley next time out, I suspect they’ll be flat out to make it right with their expectant home fans as soon as possible.
The Toffees home games have seen both teams score 70 per cent of the time in the Premier League this season, the same occurs with Leicester on the road 60 per cent of the time.
At this point, I think we have our bet.
The home side have a near full bill of health, Ademola Lookman, Cenk Tosun, and Morgan Schneiderlin were omitted from Everton’s squad last time and will all be looking to push for inclusion.
Similarly, Leicester have no new developments on the injury front, with long-term absentees Matty James and Daniel Amartey still unavailable.
It’s easy to get lost in the contradictions that both teams pose. The degree of inconsistency is such that with a win, either side could end 2018 as the best team outside the top six.
Well over half of both sides’ games, counting the home/away factor, have ended with both teams scoring. Everton have managed to find a way past Leicester on four out of five occasions.
Everton to win and over 2.5 goals
Everton to win and both teams to score