It was looking like such a promising season for Everton as recently as a few weeks ago.
But the arrival of February saw things go swiftly downhill with a dip in form in the league effectively ruling the Toffees out of the top four running in the Barclays Premier League before David Moyes’ men were ignominiously dumped out of the FA Cup by Wigan, having saved their worst performance of the campaign for last weekend’s quarter-final clash.
Morale is subsequently pretty low both in the Blues camp and on the Goodison Park terraces so it’s perhaps not surprising that the under-fire Toffees are significant outsiders at 13/5 with Stan James as they prepare to entertain Manchester City this weekend.
The champions are 23/20 courtesy of William Hill to inflict more misery on Moyes’ charges while BetVictor chalk Everton up at 5/2 to secure what, in the circumstances, wouldn’t be a bad point. But the atmosphere on Merseyside will quickly turn hostile if the hosts don’t make a flying start and that coupled with the increasing uncertainty about Moyes’ future paves the way for a comfortable away win.
Bet365 quote them at 12/5 in the handicaps, where they start a goal in arrears and given the way the Toffees struggled – and failed – to break down the Latics, Roberto Mancini’s troops are a good bet at 12/5 (Stan James) to prevail ‘to nil’.
More specifically, BetVictor make the visitors an alluring 12/1 to notch twice without reply and, in attack, Carlos Tevez has six in four in all competitions and has to be fancied at 11/2 with Coral to notch first.
Struggling Reading parted company with Brian McDermott this week but it’s unlikely to reap instant rewards at Old Trafford, where the Royals are 1/6 via Skybet to lose to leaders Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s likely title winners are 11/10 when kicking off two goals back in bet365’s handicaps and it’s 7/1 courtesy of BetVictor for them to ease to a 3-0 triumph.
The big showdown at the bottom sees Aston Villa lock horns with QPR at Villa Park and it’s the hosts that are considered favourites by Ladbrokes at 5/4. However, Harry Redknapp’s Rangers have carded back-to-back victories and can snare a point in the Midlands, a result Stan James rate at 12/5.
Southampton are getting dragged back into trouble and they look up against it as they face in-form Liverpool, who are 5/6 (Paddy Power) to manage a fourth straight league win. Luis Suarez can do the damage on the south coast and the unstoppable Reds frontman is hard to ignore at 7/2 via bet365 in the first scorer stakes.
In Sunday’s two all-London affairs, hosting pair Chelsea and Tottenham are 2/5 (Stan James) and 4/7 (Coral) respectively to get the better of West Ham and Fulham while Swansea appear a touch overpriced at 5/2 with Skybet as they entertain Arsenal.
The outcome at the DW Stadium depends on which version of Wigan turns up – the one that surrendered meekly to Liverpool or the team that sucker-punched Everton last time out.
Stan James offer 85/40 about it being closer to the former and Newcastle subsequently capitalising. Finally, bet365 post 21/20 against a Sunderland triumph against Norwich and BetVictor quote odds of 23/10 for Stoke and West Brom to be inseparable at the Britannia Stadium.
In the Six Nations, England will have to improve if they are to clinch the Grand Slam against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Stuart Lancaster’s men were below par as they struggled to victory against a defiant Italy at Twickenham but they’re nevertheless odds-on at 5/6 via Paddy Power to overcome the hosts this weekend.
BetVictor quote the Welsh at 6/4 but the visitors shouldn’t let this opportunity pass them by and they’re worth an interest at 10/11 in Skybet’s handicaps when starting three points in arrears.
Finally in Formula One, 2012 champion Sebastian Vettel is bet365’s 11/4 to start as he means to go on by winning the first Grand Prix of the 2013 season in Australia.
Fernando Alonso, at 11/2 (William Hill), is hot on the German’s heels in the betting, alongside Jenson Button, identically priced, this time by BetVictor and the McLaren man looks decent value at 6/4 via bet365 to finish on the podium Down Under.
Bet of the week: Luis Suarez to score first – 7/2 (bet365)
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com