Everton have again punched above their weight in the Premier League this season, and pose a tough test for the reigning champions on Sunday
|By PAUL GOUGH
Everton face a huge test of their growing top-four credentials when they host a revitalised Chelsea in the English Premier League on Sunday.
The Toffees have not qualified for the prestigious UEFA Champions League by finishing in the top four of the Premier League since the 2004-05 season.
But they have been knocking on the door in recent seasons under long-time manager David Moyes, having finished between fifth and eighth in the past six seasons.
At the half-way stage of this season, Everton are in sixth place after Saturday's matches but could climb above Tottenham [third], Chelsea [fourth] and Arsenal [fifth] with a victory over the Blues on Sunday.
However, punters continue to underestimate Everton, despite just one defeat in their past 14 games, with the Toffees still at the great price of $5.30 to finish in the top four this season at Betfair.
|Liverpool to beat QPR at $1.95 at Betfair
||Everton and Chelsea to draw 1-1 at $7.20 at Betfair|
Everton are also underdogs for Sunday's big clash at $2.80 at TAB Sportsbet, $2.87 at sportsbet.com.au and paying the value odds of $3.05 with Betfair.
Chelsea are shortest at $2.35 at TAB Sportsbet while they are $2.50 at sportsbet.com.au and $2.62 with Betfair.
Reigning FA Cup and European champions Chelsea are again showing signs of recapturing their best form as new manager Rafael Benitez slowly begins to win over the fans, having been an unpopular choice to replace Roberto Di Matteo as manager.
After that disastrous run of seven Premier League matches without a win - their worst streak for 17 years - Chelsea have now won six of their past seven matches in all competitions and during that period have banged in 26 goals while conceding just five.
However, we believe Everton are capable of holding Chelsea to a draw, which looks great value at $3.25 at sportsbet.com.au and TAB Sportsbet and at the best odds of $3.40 at Betfair.
A 1-1 draw in correct-score betting worth a ticket at $6.50 at sportsbet.com.au and $7.20 at Betfair.
In the other game on Sunday, Liverpool - despite their continued inconsistent form - should be too good away from home against bottom side Queens Park Rangers.
QPR have won just once all season and not even their highly rated new manager Harry Redknapp - having branded his players as overpaid following their loss to West Brom - looks capable of keeping Rangers in the top flight this season.
Rangers are the $1.54 second favourites [behind Reading at $1.19] to be relegated at Betfair, and they have had little support at $4.40 to beat Liverpool, with the Reds favourites at $1.95 and the draw paying $3.80.
* Note prices subject to change