Everton v Middlesbrough tips: Another three points for high flying Toffees
Everton have impressed already this season and their unbeaten record should remain intact this weekend
September 15th, 2016
Roberto Martinez was axed before the end of the 2015/16 season with the Toffees turning to saints boss Ronald Koeman during the summer. Has this decision paid off? It certainly appears so with Everton sitting third in the Premier League table after four games. The Toffees’ 3-0 victory over Sunderland earlier this week means that they have amassed ten points from a possible twelve and should this excellent form continue, then we could be seeing the Toffees mounting a serious challenge for a European place towards the end of the season.
“I think we will be one of the teams who fight for European football – that’s a really realistic target,” Koeman said Sky Sports. “We showed that in the second half [against Sunderland] – but if we play like the first, I think we will be in 13th or 14th place. We need to fight for European football. The players showed the level they can be at and that was in the second half. They are not stupid. They know how they can perform.”
Let’s not get too carried away though. With just four matches played plenty could still happen and on Saturday evening the Toffees will face a strong Middlesbrough side which have given a good account of themselves in their first season back in the top flight.
The Tees-siders won promotion at the end of last season thanks to their second-place finish in the Championship and they managed five points from their opening three matches. A 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend brought that unbeaten run to an end and manager Aitor Karanka will be hopeful that his men have learned from their mistakes in that match.
“It wasn’t just the two goals, there were more mistakes,” he said. “If we had played 90 minutes in the way we played the last 45 we would have won the game – not easily, but we would have won the game. For that reason we can’t forget that we’re in a good position. We’ve lost the game today but the team is doing really well. I think it’s a really good game to learn and we have to think about the future.”
The question is, have lessons been learned? Even if they have, Middlesbrough will be facing a Toffees side which are brimming with confidence at the moment and who are worth backing to win at 3/4 with William Hill.
Clearly this isn’t a price which will make you rich and we’ll instead be backing Everton to win-to-nil at 15/8 with Paddy Power, a great price given that the hosts have managed two successive clean sheets heading into this match.
We backed Romelu Lukaku to open the scoring in his last outing and he duly obliged, going on to score a hat-trick in the 3-0 thrashing of Sunderland. These three goals are a clear signal that Lukaku has put behind him a purple patch at club level and he is an excellent choice to open the scoring once again at 4/1 with Coral on the First Goalscorer market.
Live coverage on BT Sport 1 at 5:30pm, Saturday 17th September