Bong’s Gongs – An Alternative End of Season EFC Awards

1. Player of the season

Numerous candidates are worthy of a mention in this category. In the first half of the campaign Baines and Fellaini made up about 80% of the fuel in our stuttering tank whilst Heitinga was immense from November onwards. The drenthe enigma was always going to end in tears but the erratic dutchman did fill some bleak games with moments of pleasure. Pienaar, Gibson and the ruthless Jelavic are all deserving of a mention but Fellaini’s overall impact all over the pitch – delivered with an improved level of consistency than previous campaigns – gets him the award.


2. Goal of the season

In terms of explosive quality, drenthe vs fulham/qpr were ace strikes whilst Pienaar and the majestic Osman also hit a quick fire double against Sunderland which were first class. Gibson’s against citteh was probably the most crucial goal in terms of the resulting momentum that energised the squad but my personal favourite is jelavic’s against spurs. Osman was at his impish best making Kaboul look like Jason Cundy before squaring to jelavic whose movement, body position and cushioned finish were simply boss. Robin Van Persie takes opposition goal of the season for the below beauty at the Emirates before Christmas.

3. Phil Brown award for Project Manager of the Year

Football is now awash with Project Managers looking for the next exciting ‘opportunity’. In QPR, Mark Hughes finally found himself a club befitting of his ‘ambition’ to become the top flight’s #1 ball bag whilst Owen Coyle’s shorts became borderline rastapaedic as did his desperation in saying Barrrclaysss Premier league every 4 minutes.

Steve Kean also deserves a mention for his sheer delusional project management and anybody who thinks Roberto Martinez is a good ‘cos Dave Whelan said so’ only needs to remember that the geriatric JJB owner once pronounced Steve Bruce to be the 4th best manager in world football.

Overall I’d give the gong to Owen Coyle for his project management of being able to hoodwink people into thinking he’s anything other than a long ball merchant who has been well and truly rumbled…and to think some fans were actually touting this guber to replace Moyes not so long ago.

4. John Aldo award for Media Meff of the year

This utter biff’s partisan commentary and ‘opinions’ became more laughable as the season ensued. His repetitive and bitter rantings about Torres and Man Utd underlined the man as little more than a clown without make-up, with his status as the buffoon’s buffoon confirmed when he claimed Liverpool would have won the league this season with Robin Van Persie in the side. Barry Horne may be equally biased for us but can at least he can string a sentence together.

On the subject of not being able to actually talk properly, it was another epic season for Iain Dowie whilst the increasing popularity of ‘cult’ characters such Kamara and Merson says it all about society as we know it. Over at the beeb, Alan Shearer continued to be an utter candle. On the dark side, Clive Tyldesley’s use of the term ‘quarterback’ with increasing regularity underlined his status as itv’s premium dolt which is some achievement given the fact he shares a dressing room with Adrian Childs. In fairness I’d say Neville and Souness on Sky were tv’s top dogs in terms of reasoned opinion and insightful analysis.

Alan Hansen gets the Aldo award this year for his ridiculously biased and blinkered views and for his snidey column the day after Wembley saying Moyes should walk. The most staggering fact is that in these times of austerity, this whopper takes a £40k cheque from the license payer for each appearance on the dire motd. Amazing!

5. Paul McShane Award for worst visiting player at L4

Few players have even come close to the level of ineptitude that Ireland’s blundering oaf Paul McShane did during his sides 5-1 spanking at L4 a few years back. Norwich’s Steve Morrison and his ability to pick out a blue shirt at will was the subject of much amusement as was Dean Whitehead’s accuracy in removing the ball from the pitch altogether. Villa’s Alain Hutton seemed to nearly give away a penalty in every game he played whilst QPR had some real clowns (and amazingly took 4 point off us) with Bothroyd and Gabbidon amongst the worst. Sunderland’s Krygiakos  kindly turned in an epically bad display to help us on the way to Wembley back in March and Rafa’s best signing gets the award for these efforts.

6. Mikel Madar Loose Canon of the Year

Royston Drenthe’s Everton career was a short lived one. The enigmatic Dutchman wowed many toffees during our early season woes with some moments of brilliance and great goals which helped soothe the pain during some dark times pre xmas. Sadly, for every goal and assist there was equally crazy antics with comedy fouls and failure to track runs often leading to colleagues having to forcibly make the Madrid man get into line. Amidst regular rumours he had been sacked and was spending more times in the nightclub he had built in his basement, his turning up late for training twice in the week before the biggest game of the season sealed Royston’s fate and makes him this year’s recipient of the mad mick madar award.

7. Meltdown Award

There is only really one rider in this race… Mr ‘King’ Kenneth Dalglish.  The man labelled ‘cooler than the fonz’ lightened up the season with his snidey mumbling and paranoia about corrupt officials, vendetta’s and the FA’s persecution against his club. The allegations were just plain embarrassing, increasingly boring and totally unfounded.

King Kenny’s meltdown in front of a watching world audience was the source of much amusement  as Liverpool’s reputation and popularity with neutrals continued to dwindle with every press conference. His backing of a convicted racist and attempt to use it to create some kind of ‘us and them’ situation to arrest a decline in results he would eventually pay for with his job were staggering and he is a worthy winner of the meltdown gong.

8. Best opposition player?

Up until Christmas there wasn’t a hell of a lot to get excited about in blue but some opposition displays did catch the eye throughout the season. Ex blue Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney’s display in midfield at Goodison was particularly class. Wiley old campaigner and metal head tomaz rosicky also caught the eye with a majestic dance around the hallowed L4 turf as Arsenal narrowly defeated us at the old lady back in March. Wes Hoolahan, Alex Song and Vidic also turned in meaty displays in helping their sides take something from what was an increasingly cruel mistress of an awayday as the season unfolded.

EB

2011/12 Statistical & Tactical Deconstruction

 

       Key Findings & Analysis

  • In total we finished 2 points better off than last season and for the 4th season on the spin we have improved points wise in the second half of the season.
  • Based on the 1.7 points per game tally of the second half of the season we would have got in total 64/65 points which would have got us 5th/6th spot and 5 points of 3rd spot in the final standings.

The below table shows our last 5 seasons form including the split between 1st and 2nd halves of the season

  • Our superior fitness gives us increased endurance and means we are capable of withstanding heavy pressure; the goals we concede in the last 15 minutes of games over the last four seasons goes down 44% in the second half of the season from the first half.
  • If you look back over the last 4 years we have outscored the opposition by 69 to 36 goals in the last 15 minutes of games. This season we have won 11 points in the last 10 minutes of games
  • 64% of our goals were scored in the second half –only Man City scores a higher %. We also score just 36% of our goals in the first half – again, only Man City score a lower %
  • We opened the scoring in 52.6 % of games and led at half time in 23.7% of games, with the opposition leading at the interval in 26.3% of games.
  • 66% of our matches had under 2.5 goals in total – a league high.
  • We have picked up 11 points from losing situations which ranks us 9th in the top flight comeback table. Arsenal (24) has the most, Man Utd (3) the fewest.
  • 20% of our goals have been scored by a substitute with Anichebe scoring 4 times from the bench – the most in the top flight

           Key Findings & Analysis

  • We conceded 12.5 shots per game, which is an improvement on last year’s total of 13.3 per game
  • In total we have kept 12 clean sheets, which is the best since our 2008/9 total of 17 – still the highest in the Moyes era.
  • Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines and Hibbert all have 9 clean sheets from games they have started in the back four. Distin has 7, Neville 5.
  • Only the Manchester clubs have conceded fewer, and only City fewer at home…with just 3 goals shipped at L4 since the Bolton defeat at the turn of the year.
  • Heitinga is ranked 5th in the top flight for most blocked shots per game

Key Findings & Analysis

  • Against sides who play out from the back we have often deployed 4-2-3-1 (pressing opposition fullbacks) rather than  4-4-1-1 (wide men support their own fullbacks in the defensive phase) 
  • We will invariably get 11 men behind the ball when possession is lost, hence the low number of shots we concede and the area we concede them (just 6% in our 6 yard box – Stoke has fewest in this zone at 5%)
  • Only Liverpool (32%) spent more time in the opposition half than us (31%) This is often down to us pinning sides into their own half by closing off forward passing angles and ‘boxing’ them in – a good example being Cahill at Swansea basically standing on Swansea anchorman and key playmaker Britton.
  • Our pressing strategy can be split into two phases, phase one pressing higher up field looking to force opponents into mistakes and get a goal advantage. Phase two is basically ‘what we have we hold’. This approach got notable wins & clean sheets against Chelsea, Man City and Swansea with on average just 35% of the ball in each game.
  • Fellaini is ranked 13th in the top flight for aerials won with a tidy 74% success rate from his 116 headers.
  • As a team our aerials won per game has gone down quite a bit from last season. We are not a massive team but winning headers is not always vital if you keep your midfield and defensive lines close and pick up the second balls
  • Against sides whose attacking strengths lie in quick, pacey movement who like to play through the middle (eg Man City) we push them out to the flanks and invite crosses given our aerial superiority. For sides that play with width, we block off angles and look to make them play through the middle.
  • Tackles and fouls have this season gone down whilst interceptions have gone up.  Fellaini made 2.6 fouls per game in the top flight, which is the highest in the division

The below tables shows the pressing ‘contacts’ for each side in the top flight…

Key Findings & Analysis

  • There was minimal change in the makeup of our passing; short passes per game has gone up slightly,  long passes has gone down and crosses have also gone down based on last year’s figures but all have been minimal changes
  • The best passing accuracy recorded was Jack Rodwell at 87.6%; however the player who has filled his role Darron Gibson is second on 84.1%. Tellingly however, Gibson is more involved and makes 30% more passes per game than Rodwell

The below table shows a breakdown of each sides passing in the top flight….

  • Jags is ranked 10th in the top flight for most accurate long balls per game (6.6) with a 57% accuracy. Heitinga’s accuracy was better ( 60%) and more accurate playing on the rightside of the centre back pair using his better right foot for the diagonal. Both were put in the shade by Gibson whose long passes hit their target 77% of the time

In terms of player importance, the below shows the win % with and without for each player in the league games they have/ haven’t started…….

  • Gibson has the best winning % (55%) although for the second season running Leon Osman’s figures in terms of importance make him the key man; when he plays the Blues win 46% with a drop to 20% when he doesn’t; the biggest drop in the squad

Key Findings & Analysis

  • Despite only joining in January, Steven Pienaar created the most league goals (6) although Royston Drenthe had a quicker minutes/assists ratio in the league and created 8 in total including the cups. Landon Donovan teed up 3 in the league and 3 more in the cups. Seamus Coleman didn’t register one assist in the league and the youngster endured a patchy season.

Since the January window our share of the ball and completion hasn’t been massively improved, but the incision has; look at the below table which shows that the volume of through balls goes up 3 times the figure in the 10 games which followed the close of the January transfer window in comparison to the opening 10 games of the season….

The below table is in order of assists made and shows other creative type stuff such as dribbles, average passes per game & chances created.

  • Offensively the key strategy is using the flanks and predominantly our left side axis of Baines and Pienaar which is clearly ace.
  • We play with more width than any side in the top flight; attacking down the flanks (76%) more so than any side in the top flight
  • Baines crossing accuracy this season was 28% – the same as his completion last season. Although he has created 7 less chances he has played 5 games less. Only Pennant, M.Petrov and Seb Larrson put in more crosses per game than Baines.
  • Hibbert’s often derided crossing this season has actually seen him get more assists than Baines, albeit achieved with a worse cross accuracy (20%)
  • Our team’s dribbles went down 7 per game last season to 4.5 per game this season. Baines made the most dribbles (28) followed by Drenthe (21)

Key Findings & Analysis

The below table shows our shots per game stats for the season…..

  • We are ranked 12th in terms of shooting accuracy and 9th in terms of efficiency i.e how many shots it takes us to score a goal.
  • In total we hit 13.7 shots per game, down on last years figure of 15.3 and overall we posted our lowest goals total since 2005/6

 The below tables show our attacking strategy over the past 3 seasons in terms of attack sides, action zones, where we take our shots and from which direction we take them….

  • When Fellaini has started in the midfield – forward pivot role we have scored 2.3 goals per game with the Belgian scoring or assisting 5 goals in the process in these games alone.
  • The team’s goals per game ratio drops to just 1.1 goals when Fellaini hasn’t played there. Cahill has played this role with significantly less end product (Cahill has just 2 goals and 2 assists for the season in the league). The Aussie can still do a job for the team but he lacks the imposing physical stature, chest control and capacity to create mayhem that the Belgian has.
  • Jelavic has almost single handed dragged our goals output to respectable levels with 11 from 13 starts. He has one of the best touches to goals ratio in the top flight at 49 touches per goal and in doing so was the fastest player to reach 10 goals for Everton since 1912.
  • Ressie strikers Anichebe ( 36.8) and Vellios (37.3) both had excellent touch to goals ratio as well as the Croatian whilst Tim Howard had a 100% goals/shots ratio after his wonder strike vs Bolton
  • Former striker Louis Saha – whilst a superb player – struggled for form and confidence; scoring just 1 league goal despite having 50+ shots prior to moving to Spurs.

For the 4th season on the spin the campaign can be split into 2 distinct phases;  pre and post the half way mark with both impacted hugely by the transfer window’s which proceeded them.

Phase 1 began with the untimely loss of Arteta which de-railed the season in removing the most creative player from a squad which already looked thin on the ground in terms of incision and goal threat. With an over reliance on Baines crosses (and the occasionally inspired but often erratic Drenthe)  and zero goal threat Moyes strategy to compensate was by being more defensive and grinding points out. With performances increasingly unpleasant on the eye we chugged into the new year around the middle ground of the division.

Just as the August Transfer Window was crucial so too was January’s as a catalyst for change (Phase 2). The inspired recruitment of Gibson & the short term recruitment of incisive players such as Pienaar /Donovan provided some subtlety to the graft we have in abundance.  With the defence suitably tight and the creative talents providing more incisive passing all that was needed was somebody to finish the chances.  Enter Jelavic. His goals moved us up the table losing just 2 games in the second half of the season and finishing the campaign unbeaten in the last 9 games.

The defeat against the RS in the semi was hard to take given how poor they are and the form we took into the game. The player/manager’s mental strength to beat our closest rivals was the reason many identified for the defeat but the fact that our 3 main creative players this season (drenthe/pienaar/Donovan) were all absent was equally crucial. Overall, whilst getting 7th spot isn’t anything to get excited about, the way we finished the campaign along with solving the goal scoring riddle which has damaged us for years has to give us confidence going into next season.

Next Steps?

 

What happens next is anybody’s guess. The noises coming out of the club is that players will need to be sold if we are to recruit anyone, but trading isn’t necessarily a bad thing – look at Newcastle last year bringing in Cabaye for fatty Nolan – and positive change could improve us further. A priority is replacing wily old campaigners such as Cahill and Neville who probably each have no more than 12 months left in the tank. Recent summers have been dire and stifled the momentum we have taken into the close season and you get the feeling that if Moyes could name the side that finished the last game vs Newcastle on the opening day he would be happy.

Finally, here is statistically our best side of the season based on impact and average position. The greater the impact the larger the font….

EB

 

Junior Football Competition

Win the chance to train with Bayern Munich (For the teenagers)

The Executioner’s Bong have teamed up with Allianz Your Cover Insurance who are giving two teenagers (14-16) a once in a lifetime opportunity to head over to Munich for a week long training camp with FC Bayern Munich.

All we’re asking of our applicants is that they submit a picture to our Facebook app of their favourite footballing moment, memory, experience plus a maximum of 100 words explaining why that moment was so special.

We’ll ask our FA accredited referee to judge which 5 entrants are the best,  then we’ll put them to a public vote and use those votes to help decide on who should be put through to Munich.

You can enter the through the app on the our Facebook page. Or you can directly through via this link (Competition app).

If you know any young talented Everton fans who’d like to represent the UK over in Germany for a week, share this link and get them entering!

 Here’s an explanation of what happens from Munich.

In August 2012, Allianz will host the fourth international Allianz Junior Football Camp in Munich. Teenagers from 14 to 16 years will get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet stars of FC Bayern Munich, participate in a professional football practice with official coaches of the club, visit the city of Munich and watch a match of FC Bayern Munich live at the Allianz Arena.

This unique camp experience will be a fantastic and unforgettable event for every participant. Teenagers have the opportunity to meet other passionate footballers from all over the world. We will further encourage this exchange between different countries (e.g. mixed groups during football training sessions).

Camp participants will enjoy an exciting program:

  • Practice with FC Bayern Munich coaches:
  • Meet FC Bayern stars
  • Allianz Arena tour
  • FC Bayern match
  • Sightseeing tour
  • 5-aside tournament
  • Intercultural activities (e.g. Farewell Party)

 Good luck!

Everton v Newcastle: 5 Point Tactical & Betting Preview

1.Newcastle

The Geordies come into this fixture knowing the lowest they can finish is 5th spot and given the way they have played this season few could argue that they would be deserving of a place in the Champions League. Their season has been built on a solid back 5 including keeper Krul who has kept 15 clean sheets – second only to Joe Hart-  in the top flight. Their midfield may not have great depth but its first choice 4 has pretty much everything required. Tiote is one of the best pressers in the top flight and isn’t too shabby on the ball whilst Cabaye has created 55 goal scoring chances over the season which have yielding 6 assists. Ben Arfa has predominantly come in on the right side and makes the 5th most dribbles per game in the top flight leading to a productive 5 goals and 5 assists from just 15 starts. On the other flank, Gutierrez is useful at  both ends of the pitch and has a knack of winning useful dead ball situations; with 82 free kicks won he is the top flight’s most fouled player.

Upfront Demba Ba was the leading light early on in the campaign when he plundered 16 goals but he has often found himself shunted towards the left side in recent months due to the arrival of Papiss Cisse. Regular readers will recall EB’s search for a new no9 article over a year ago which highlighted Cisse as someone who could solve our Achilles heal in front of goal and the forward has been exceptional since his arrival with 13 in 12 starts. Prior to last weeks round of matches Cisse had the best touches per goal ratio in the PL this season for players who have played 10+ apps: (Top 5 in full) Papiss Cisse 35.2, Anichebe 36.8, Vellios 37.3, Berbatov 42.2, Jelavic 45.1 (source: Whoscored.com)

2.Last Time out

Newcastle triumphed in the first meeting of the season at St James after a horrendous start from the Blues seen them go 0-2 down and left them too far to swim back from despite Rodwell pulling one back before half time.

We played quite direct on the day with Jags making 24 long passes. To put that into context Colocinni hit 7 and was Newcastle’s biggest user of the long ball. Jags hit a 45% accuracy with these long punts and to be fair some of them were pinged really well – notably putting Saha clear 1 on 1 with Krul however the now departed Frenchman blew his big chance.

Rodwell  had one of his better games, finding time and space to link defence to attack pinging 23 passes in the process in the first period, scoring a goal and going close with another header. In the second half though Pardew seemed to instruct his charges to press him more and for his strikers to cut off the angles for Everton’s defenders to feed him (hence more longer passes).  They did so superbly. Rodwell was completely anonymous in the second period, making a feeble 7 passes and not getting anywhere near the opposition goal like he had done in the opening spell.

Our creativity and passing incision was good with 60% of our chances coming inside Newcastle’s 18 yard box compared to our host’s 33%.  In the end Newcastle’s momentum carried them over the finishing line as our annual dire start to the campaign continued to unfold.

3.Tactics

Like Moyes, Pardew is more of a reactive manager with both sides having spent more time off the ball than on it this season (efc average possession 47% nufc average possession 46%).  Similarly, both have players who are rapid in counter attack situations to exploit sides playing high up the pitch against them. The side’s respective visits to Swansea in recent months illustrate this well. Both sides averaged possession of just over the 30% marker, but both had a solid enough game plan to win 2-0 with relative ease such was the strength of their game off the ball. The Geordies have mixed things up from their early season flat 4-4-2 and have deployed 4-3-3 at times since the Arsenal defeat to accommodate the impish schemer Ben Arfa.

vs Chelsea (average player positions)

Against Chelsea nufc played a more orthodox 4-4-2 with Cisse (9) and Ba (19) central and Gutierrez (18) and Ben Arfa (10) providing wide support. Like us with Baines, Santon (3) will get forward and provide width whilst Perch (14) balances this by providing defensive balance on the right enabling Ben Arfa to roam. The X shows the area where Santon can often leave open on his forward forays and which Gibson (if fit) will look to exploit by feeding Osman.

vs Wigan (average player positions)

Here they played quite narrow with a 4-3-3 with Cisse (9) Ben Arfa (10) and Ba (19) (blue lines) supported by 3 narrow midfielders in behind. Although Simpson (not Perch) occupied right back he maintains the balance for the Newcastle offensive left by staying back level with his CB’s.

 4.Team News

Everton’s major injury dilemma is whether pivotal left back Leighton Baines will recover in time to take his place at left back. If not, Distin will continue here with Jags and Heitinga in the central defensive slots. In midfield, Darren Gibson will hopefully be back and will more than likely line up alongside Cahill in midfield with Fellaini playing in the midfield/forward pivot and Osman/Pienaar in the narrow wide supporting berths to Jelavic.  Newcastle’s selection has been fairly constant all campaign and their only regular starter who looks set to miss out is Danny Simpson whose slot will again be filled by James Perch. I’d expect the sides to line up like this…

5. Betting

Everton have won 6 and drawn 1 of their last 7 final home games of the season at Goodison, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process. Moyes record against Pardew at Goodison is decent having won 2 of their 3 meetings. DM also has a decent record against the Geordies at Goodison having lost just once in his 10 years in charge;  a 0-1 reverse at L4 last season.

Everton are best priced 13/10 with BlueSquare to win whilst you can get Newcastle at 11/5 with Boylesport. Newcastle start games well and score the bulk of their goals in the first half whilst in contrast we score over 60% of our goals after the interval. Betdaq will give you 29/1 on a Newcastle HT / Everton FT forecast.

Goals would look likely given the prolific forwards both teams have in their ranks. Willie Hills will offer you 9/2 on Jelavic and Cisse to both score at any stage of the game. We have scored 4 in each of our last 2 home games and 55.6% of NUFC’s away games have seen over 2.5 goals with Krul shipping 17 in his last 8 on road. The 2.5+ goals bet can be backed at 3/4 with the same vendor.

Wolves v Everton – 5 Point Tactical & Betting Preview

1.Wolves Situation

Since Thick Mick’s departure things have gone from bad to worse for our hosts. The Conservative Yorkshireman paid the price for a poor run of form culminating in a derby shlacking by wba on their own patch, but in fairness the Molyneux outfit were at least competitive prior to his departure compared to what has gone on since. The admirable Terry Connor has taken on a troubled club and while results have got worse (they’ve lost 9 on the spin at home) the clubs hierarchy come out of this sorry episode looking distinctly amateur with bad kopite Steve Morgan particularly exposed as a clown without make-up.

2.Toffee tactics

I’d imagine we would go 4-2-3-1 with the forward 4 players fairly fluid and interchangeable with Pienaar and Osman narrowly supporting Jelavic off the flanks. Wolves usually deploy either 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 with Doyle, or as he is also known ‘Everton target Doyle’ and Fletcher both selected last time out in the 8 goal thriller at Swansea. With nothing to play for in this fixture you’d imagine Connor would stick with this system in the hope of giving the home fans ‘ a good send off’. If Wolves do go 4-4-2 I’d fancy us to control the game with an extra man in the middle. Wolves have played 4-5-1 in other games since Connor took over with Davis a potential option here if Connor wants more control in the centre of the pitch.

Our hosts have an over reliance on crossing making 27 per game with only Liverpool making more per match in the top flight. This is to make up for a distinct lack of incision in the middle of the pitch. Moyes will mitigate this by playing a high line to dictate where the crosses are coming as he did in the reverse fixture when they delivered 0 successful deliveries.

Here is how I’d see the sides lining up….

3.Previous Meetings

The Toffees won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Goodison in a game we dominated for the most part but had to rely on 2 set pieces to win after Wolves took the lead from the spot with their only shot on target. In this fixture last season McCarthy went 4-4-2 against our 4-2-3-1 in a game which was over as a contest by half time following a Billy special and other goals from Neville and the now departed Beckford. The Blues played predominantly counter attack in this one with our hosts having a lot of the ball but producing little of substance.

4.Team News

Darron Gibson could return to the side having missed the midweek trip to Stoke. Fellaini and Cahill were both preferred deeper vs stoke because of this and also to combat the long balls but I’d expect one to push further forward (probably Cahill) if Gibson is back. The injuries picked up by Anichebe and Neville will keep them out for the remaining fixtures whilst Baines could feature in next week’s finale.

Matt Jarvis bagged 2 last week but is touch and go for this weekend whilst keeper Wayne Hennessy is out for the remaining dead rubbers meaning De Vries will be between the sticks.  Stephen Hunt – who has amazingly scored against us for 3 different clubs – is available again whilst on loan Bassong faces a late fitness test.

5.Betting

The Blues are firm favourites with the bookies in this fixture. Betfred offer  8/11 on a Blue win whilst you can get as long as 17/4 with Boylesport on Terry Connor to register his first win at the helm.

As mentioned earlier, Wolves home record is awful having lost 9 home games on the spin averaging 3 goals conceded per game in that sequence. Unsurprisingly they have  conceded the most shots in top flight (634) which is 18 per game so you’d imagine Jelavic will certainly ‘get a sniff’ in this one. A Jelavic anytime/ Everton win double is 7/5 with Willie Hills and you can get the equivalent bet on Pienaar at 9/2 with the same vendor. The best bet for the Croat to score first is 4/1 with Paddy Power.

A huge 78% of Wolves home games have involved 2.5 goals +  which is the second highest in the division after Man City. Both clubs have been involved in 4-4 draws in recent weeks so it would be worth sticking this on a 2.5 goals + accy with this game a single priced 8/13 (again with Hills) for that outcome.