Having a few cheeky pints on the lawn during the week as the evenings stay light. Attending countless BBQ’s and ignoring the potato salad to save room for a second round of burgers. Spending your Sunday afternoons in the beer gardens, shades on, living the dream. When we get the weather, summer is super, and one of the few benefits of not being a professional footballer is that you don’t have to worry about staying fit. Nobody in the office is going to mind that you ploughed through six hotdogs and half a crate of Fosters at the weekend, although they may question your beer of choice.
Getting back into the swing of things in the Premier League is tough, particularly after such a short break for those who traveled to Brazil for the World Cup. Some players and squads settle back into the grueling training schedule quicker than others, but as a few of the opening day lethargic performances showed, that’s easier said than done.
Everton might not initially strike punters as a team that are slow to get started. In fact last season they went unbeaten in their first six games, the season before they won their opening two games, including a 1-0 win over Manchester United. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the Toffees, like many other teams, might just be slightly off the pace, and that gives us a value bet for this week.
Arsenal are 6/4 to beat Everton on Saturday evening, but there is logic behind backing them to win the second half at a slightly better 17/10. The Gunners won 24 matches last year, drawing seven and losing seven. If you take just the final 45 minutes of a game, Arsenal actually won 22 matches, drawing 10 and losing just six, so there is plenty of reason to believe Wenger’s squad will kick on after the oranges, or whatever posh fruit they give out to these modern-day superstars now.
Throw a sprinkling of history onto this value punt with the stat that 72 per cent of Arsenal’s goals against Everton in the last 15 head-to-heads, have come in the second half. The Toffees’ defence has built up a reputation over the last few years of being tougher than the roast beef in the Paddy Power canteen, and it isn’t surprising to see that it takes time to make the breakthrough. Backing the first goal to come after the 26th minute might also tempt a few odds-on punters at a skinny 10/11.
Everton hit the ground running against Leicester but ran out of juice as the game wore on making the Arsenal second half win stand-out.
(Yes, we know Ross Barkley is injured and didn’t play, but we needed a picture of an Everton player with their eyes closed and this did the job)
In their first game of the season Everton came out all guns blazing and had 11 attempts on goal in the first half against the new boys on the block. The Toffees were finding a teammate with their passing, they were winning tackles and they scored two well-taken goals. However after the break Everton struggled to keep the momentum up and were as uninspiring as Adam Sandler’s latest movie role. They had just two attempts, both of which were off target. As they failed to hold on to the ball, the Toffees had to attempt more tackles but their success rate went down and they committed more fouls with Garry Barry picking up a booking. Leicester’s Chris Wood popped up with an 86th minute goal and the newly promoted team earned a draw – winning the second half 1-0.
Last season, despite going unbeaten in the opening six games, Everton conceded five goals in the second half of games, compared to one in the first 45. Another not-quite-bombproof but reasonably interesting indication that they need a few league games under their belts to get up to speed.
Although Arsenal also looked a little off the pace in their opening game with Crystal Palace, and have had an away Champions League tie to Besiktas to contend with, the Gunners look to have more in the tank with Olivier Giroud, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil all in line to potentially make their first league appearance of the campaign. Last week’s stats suggest that Everton are still finding their fitness and the loss of Barkley is a huge blow. The Gunners might leave it late, but they’re a good bet to win the second half as the Toffees tire.
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