It could be a miserable weekend for relegation-threatened Everton as they prepare to take on title-chasing Liverpool in Sunday's Merseyside derby.
Original article published 29 August 2022
The Toffees currently occupy 17th position in the Premier League, just one point ahead of Burnley, but Frank Lampard's side could find themselves in the bottom three before they kick off at Anfield.
With the Merseyside derby not starting until 16:30, the Clarets have the chance to leapfrog Everton with a victory over Wolves in the earlier 14:00 clash at Turf Moor.
Mike Jackson has collected four points from two matches since being placed in temporary charge of the Lancashire outfit and this upturn in form has provided a much-needed confidence boost for Burnley, who are 4/5 to stay up.
Add in the fact Wolves have lost three of their last four away league games and have slipped off the pace in the top-four race, the Clarets, 17/10 to triumph on Sunday, will see this as a great opportunity to move out of the relegation zone.
If Burnley do indeed claim the spoils at Turf Moor, this would serve as a huge body blow to Everton, who are in serious danger of being relegated, priced at 11/8, this season.
The decision to sack Rafael Benitez and bring in Lampard has not been vindicated, with the Toffees in a worse position now than they were under the Spanish tactician.
At the time of the former England international's appointment, the club was positioned in 16th place, four points above the relegation zone. They now sit in 17th position and just one point clear of the bottom three.
Of the 14 matches Lampard has been in charge of across all competitions, he has won five times (two in the FA Cup), drawn once and lost the other eight contests. More specifically in the league, he has collected just 10 points from the 33 on offer.
A major worry for the Toffees has been their defensive fragility, with 18 top-flight goals conceded from their last 11 league outings, and that doesn't bode well as they prepare to take on the division's top scorers Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp's men have plundered 83 goals so far this term and they will be eager to keep racking up the numbers as they continue to hunt down table-toppers Man City.
The Reds have also lost just once in 25 games against Everton in all competitions, a 2-0 defeat in this Premier League fixture last season, and it would be a surprise if Sunday's hosts fail to come out on top once again.
With Mohamed Salah - who is 4/7 to score anytime and get the one goal he needs to equal Michael Owen's Premier League record and Kenny Dalglish's league record of 118 for the club - Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz all in sparkling form, it's unlikely Everton will be able to keep out of their rivals.
To make matters worse for the Toffees they will again be without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who remains sidelined with an ongoing thigh issue, while Donny van de Beek is out with a groin problem and Andre Gomes is unavailable because of an unspecified injury.
The trio's absence already adds to a growing injury list for Everton, who have Andros Townsend, Tom Davies and Nathan Patterson out for the rest of the campaign.
A Liverpool win and over 3.5 goals in the match could prove to be a good betting route to go down, especially given the fact 11 combined goals have been seen in the last three meetings with Everton.
It doesn't get any easier for Lampard's men after the clash at Anfield, with their remaining fixtures seeing them face Chelsea, Leicester, Watford, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
With Burnley having Watford, Aston Villa (twice), Tottenham and Newcastle after this weekend, there seems to be more realistic opportunities for the Clarets to pick up some points.
It may have seemed unthinkable to suggest Everton could get relegated from the Premier League earlier on in the campaign, but how Sunday's results go could end up having a huge say on the overall outcome of the bottom three.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Chelsea will be looking to take another step to securing Champions League football for next season when they welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge (14:00).
The Blues did recently book their place in the FA Cup final, overcoming Crystal Palace in the semi-finals, but they suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss at home to Arsenal last time out.
Next up for Thomas Tuchel's side is a home clash with West Ham, who look like they will be putting all of their eggs in the Europa League basket in pursuit of obtaining a spot in next season's Champions League.
The Hammers are without a win from their last five league games on the road - losing four and drawing one - while they have tasted success just once from their last 14 top-flight visits to Stamford Bridge.
David Moyes' side have also failed to find the back of the net in three of their last five away league matches and backing under 2.5 goals could be the way to go on Sunday.
A Chelsea win to nil may also appeal at 6/4, given the fact the soon-to-be dethroned European champions boast the third-best defensive record in the division.
The fourth and final game on Sunday, which also starts at 14:00, will see Brighton welcome south-coast rivals Southampton to the Amex Stadium.
It's only pride and bragging rights to play for in this contest, with neither side in relegation trouble, and the Seagulls - 11/10 to win - are likely feeling more confident than the Saints.
Graham Potter's side lost 3-0 to Man City last time out, that defeat ending a three-game unbeaten run, while Southampton have picked up just one victory from their last seven league assignments.