Paddy’s Preview: vs Birmingham

Birmingham’s failure to perform last week was understandable.

The physical and emotional toll of their Carling Cup win, not to mention the celebrations afterwards, were plainly obvious as they struggled to get going against West Brom. Everton’s form is a whole different story though. Poor against Bolton, heroic at Stamford Bridge, comfortable winners over Sunderland, pants in defeat to Reading and then back to their battling best coming from behind at St James’. Consistency has been an issue all season but now with a more comfortable gap between themselves and the relegation zone and European qualification now a realistic target, Everton will be hoping to rectify this issue and make it three straight league wins.

Given their upcoming fixture list, four of their next five at home against teams Moyes will be expecting to beat, Everton could go on a season making run but first they need to deal with the threat of the Carling Cup champions. Last week was poor from Birmingham but David Moyes will be expecting them to put in a much improved performance as they look to scramble out of the relegation zone. Although they are the lowest scorers in the league and have only won twice on their travels this season, both of those wins have come in their last three away games so Everton are going to have to work for the win, even if they are big favourites at 4/7.

Another interesting stat worth noting is there has been just the one home win in the last ten meetings between these sides. If that’s making you a little cautious then you can sit on the fence and take the draw at 11/4, however if Ferguson and Gardner fail to return from their respective injuries there’ll be that little less resistance and the home side should be expected to be the stronger of the two teams.

Up front Louis Saha and Jermaine Beckford could be paired again and of the two you’d always fancy the Frenchman to score first at 9/2. Mikel Arteta was excellent against Newcastle and the Spaniard is worth taking on to open the scoring at 15/2 or even to score anytime at 13/5..

Birmingham are sure to better than they were against West Brom but if Everton match the level of performance they put in against Newcastle they should take this game comfortably enough. The scoreline looks like it’s going to be tight with 1-0 at 9/2, 2-0 at 11/2 and 2-1 at 7/1 the obvious picks in the correct score market.

A win will put Everton just three points behind Liverpool and right back in to the race for Europe. It hasn’t be the greatest season up to this point but with so many teams failing to take advantage, the Toffees can really chew up some ground in the games to come

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