What a difference two wins can make. Up into the heady height of the top half of the league after beating Wolves and Bolton, hopes will be rising and protests abating.
As long as the good run continues of course and at home to a Stoke side which has lost four of their last five league games, Everton have a great chance to extend their current winning streak to three games. Thereâ€™ll be talk of the Champions League soon at this rate.
Before getting too carried away a reality check may be in order. The performance against Wolves wasnâ€™t Evertonâ€™s best of the season and the sending off of David Wheater after just twenty minutes was a big boost against Bolton. Even David Moyes is keeping it real by admitting that his side lack the firepower to make real waves in the Premier League:
â€œWe have the core of a good team, with young up-and-coming midfielders, but we haven´t got someone who is going to score 15-20 goals a season.â€
Louis Saha wonâ€™t be too pleased by reading that, which heâ€™ll probably be doing on the treatment table. The Frenchman isnâ€™t injured at the moment but history tells us that it wonâ€™t be long before he is. When fit he can be world class, which is why heâ€™s the 9/2 favourite to open the scoring against Stoke, but he canâ€™t be relied upon to last the whole season. Which is why, with a lack of striking options and no money to bring long-term solutions in, the manager is focusing on nothing beyond getting to that vaunted 40 point mark as soon as possible. Anything on top of that will be gravy.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Which is why itâ€™s so important to make the most of their building momentum by beating Stoke at home. The Potters have had goalscoring issues of their own this season, particularly on the road where theyâ€™ve managed to hit the net just three times in six games, conceding fifteen times. Five of which came in their last away game against a Bolton side which has lost six of seven at home. And a Bolton side which Everton have just beaten themselves.
Stokeâ€™s European efforts have clearly had an impact on their start to the season and with Europa League action on Thursday this is good news for David Moyes. He may not have too many options up front but itâ€™s in the middle of the park things look a little healthier. Marouane Fellaini celebrated signing a new contract with a goal against Bolton and the Belgian certainly has the quality to be getting on the scoresheet on a more regular basis. Heâ€™s 14/1 to score first and 5/1 to score anytime. Royston Drenthe is proving to be a decent loan-signing and having scored twice already this season heâ€™s worth a look at 10/1 to score first. Tim Cahill is still struggling to find the net but itâ€™s only a matter of time. Heâ€™s 6/1 to score first and 2/1 to score anytime. One of these weeks youâ€™re going to regret not backing him.
Given Stokeâ€™s away form and Evertonâ€™s current mini-run, itâ€™s no surprise to see the home side as the odds on favourite at 3/4. The stats suggest that an Everton clean-sheet is worth backing at 6/5. Thereâ€™s unlikely to be a glut of goals but the fans wonâ€™t care as long as their side wins. Everton 1-0 at 5/1 and 2-0 at 13/2 are the logical choices here.
Momentum can prove a powerful force and though he may not have the squad heâ€™d want, David Moyes knows well that confidence can cover a lot of ills. Can he make it three wins on the bounce against Stoke?