Five of the Premier League’s bottom six sides play this Saturday, with all of them in desperate need of points as the season slowly edges closer towards an end and the prospect of relegation becomes that much more real.
The match we will be previewing is Everton’s crunch meeting with Leeds United on Saturday afternoon, with the Merseyside club hosting the team who are just one place and one point ahead of them in the table.
The Toffees currently occupy the final relegation spot, but would jump ahead of Leeds, who would drop into the relegation zone, were they to get a win from this match. Managerless Leeds, who are currently 17th, have seen somewhat of an upturn in performance after the sacking of Jesse Marsch last Monday, and after performing admirably against Manchester United last week, will fancy their chances against an Everton side who have badly struggled all season.
Everton recorded a first Premier League win since October when they surprisingly beat Arsenal 1-0 in their first fixture of February, and that result was expected to provide a much-needed boost of confidence and momentum for them going into subsequent games.
However, some of the Toffees’ newly-acquired confidence was dented on Monday, when Everton tasted defeat in yet another Merseyside derby. Goals from Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo condemned the Toffees to a 12th league defeat this season, and after guiding his new side to a shock win against the league leaders in his first match, Sean Dyche will be disappointed that his team couldn’t pick up a second consecutive win against a poor Liverpool side.
Picking up a win against their great rivals on Monday would have been just their third in this fixture since 2010, and as they rarely face Liverpool in such poor form, they will be ruing their missed chance of picking up a derby win. Now against a Leeds side who are in pretty poor form themselves,
Everton have the opportunity to pick up points at the expense of a relegation rival, and the relatively impressive start that Sean Dyche has made so far means that they do have a chance at picking up a win. Now whether they actually can do that is another question - the Toffees have won just two of the 13 matches they have played since late October.
Opposite to Everton in the fact that they currently have no manager, but similar to them in that they are also deep in the mix of the relegation scrap, Leeds need a win here to pull themselves away from the current bottom three.
The Whites’ next two matches are against fellow strugglers Southampton and top-half Fulham, and a win at Goodison Park would provide a momentum boost going into those matches, which are both winnable. However, their current run of bad form counts against them, with the last time that the Whites actually won in the Premier League coming back in early November.
Leeds did pick up wins against Cardiff and Accrington in the FA Cup last month, but wins against lower-league opposition do not mean anything and does not help them when it comes to Premier League survival. Leeds did perform admirably against Manchester United in what was their first game since sacking Jesse Marsch, going 2-0 up before eventually succumbing to a 2-2 draw in an energetic performance that was of huge contrast to their other recent performances. If they can muster up a similarly energetic and spirited performance on Saturday, then they look well set for a much-needed league win.
A Leeds win seems the most likely outcome here with the Toffees in abysmal form, and although the appointment of Sean Dyche could change that form soon enough, Leeds are simply the better side of the two right now and are better-placed to emerge victorious. Dyche’s men are priced at 11/8 odds to come away with a win from this fixture, while Leeds are priced at 2/1 to get the 3 points.