Everton - Stoke Betting Preview: Key absentees to spell a tight match

The visitors have been in woeful form of late, but Al Hain-Cole thinks that a couple of missing players will prevent the Toffees from running out as convincing winners
After all but ending the title race with victory over Manchester City, Everton continue their pursuit of European qualification when they welcome Stoke City to Goodison Park.

David Moyes’ men sit three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand, and will want to close the gap before they travel to White Hart Lane next weekend.

Having lost just once at home all season, The Toffees are favourites at 4/7 (1.57) with Bet365 to take all three points against their out-of-form visitors.

Tony Pulis’ side have won just twice in their last 15 league games, and are therefore considerable outsiders at 13/2 (7.50) to pick up a shock first victory in five matches.

With 25 draws between them, this pair are two of the Premier League’s stalemate specialists, so it would perhaps come as no surprise if they were to share the spoils on Saturday, at odds of 29/10 (3.90).

While on paper this game might normally look like an easy home win, Everton are considerably weakened by the absence of suspended duo Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini.

That pair are key to most of the hosts’ best attacking play, and without them Stoke will be more confident of frustrating the Goodison faithful.

Although the Potters have suffered a number of poor results recently, they are rarely on the wrong end of a thrashing, and have conceded just six goals in their last six games.

With all that in mind, odds of 4/5 (1.80) seem to offer decent value on the visitors keeping the goal tally to under 2.5 - a bet that would have paid out in the last seven meetings between these two sides.

Without Fellaini and Pienaar, Leon Osman will be expected to play a more integral role going forward, and luckily he is enjoying his most prolific season to date.

With eight goals to his name in all competitions, and three in his last five, the England international seems rather generously priced at 4/1 (5.00) to hit the back of the net on Saturday by bet365.

Under 2.5 goals at 4/5 (1.80) with bet365
Leon Osman to score anytime at 4/1 (5.00) with bet365

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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