There was little in the way of an attacking threat from Everton at the thankfully renamed Etihad Stadium but they did at least restrict mega-bucks Man City from creating any real chances for an hour.
After that it could have gotten ugly, not quite Carlos Tevez ugly (Im talking about inside of course), but it certainly could have been worse than 2-0. It would be more than a little defeatist to excuse such a result due to the disparity in the cost of the individual squads but it has to be taken in to account, at least after the fact.
There will be no room for such excuses this weekend though. Liverpool may have spent more on players in the last nine months than Everton have spent on every player in their entire history (this most probably isnt true but sometimes lies are needed to emphasis a valid point) but when it comes to the Merseyside Derby price, tags count for nought. Or at least very little.
Both sides have had decent starts to the season with Everton recovering from an opening day loss by going five games unbeaten in all competitions, winning four, up to last weeks loss to Man City. David Moyes has his usual thinner than most squad to choose from but thanks to a quite unusual lack of injuries, with Tim Cahill being passed fit to play only Anichebe is definitely out, he has plenty of options for the game against Liverpool.
Liverpool have certainly improved under Kenny Dalglish but considering the money that has been spent more is expected, especially on the consistency front. They started the season well, had a couple of shockers and in their last two games, despite winning, have managed to look worryingly profligate in front of goal. One of Moyes key aims will be keeping a shackle on the impressive Luis Suarez and it wont be surprising to see him being tracked around the pitch by Rodwell. Keep Suarez quiet and Liverpool can start to look a little one dimensional and if they start lumping balls up to Andy Carroll, youll know theyre struggling. Jagielka and Distin will fancy their chances of nullifying the former Newcastle mans aeriel threat if he starts.
Its at the back where Dalglishs side have been struggling the most, managing just one clean sheet in eight games and giving away a couple of sloppy penalties. Everton are 7/1 to score a penalty, 11/10 to score first and 3/1 to keep a clean sheet. Tim Cahill has a fondness for scoring against the Reds and if fit is a good bet at 7/1 to score first. For a couple of longer shots Jagielka at 25/1 and Distin at 40/1 are worth a couple of small bets to capitalise on any defensive uncertainties from set pieces.
The match prices suggest that this is going to be a close but 15/8 is a good price for a home win. Last season it ended 2-0 and though these games can prove wildly unpredictable, Liverpools unsettled backline and recent lack of accuracy in front of goal make it a reasonable punt at 13/1, as long as that isnt some kind of omen. A win and Everton will go ahead of their rivals on goal difference with a game in hand. Its only early yet but that will give the blue half of Mersey plenty of reasons to look forward to the rest of the season with positivity.
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