Fearful Toffees to come unstuck again

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Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman suggested in the wake of Everton’s 2-2 Europa League draw with Apollon Limassol last month that his side had been “afraid to play”.

It is a notion that remains hard to argue with, given the Toffees have since extended their poor sequence to two wins from 11 games in all competitions.

Everton appear to be suffering from a chronic lack of confidence right now, with tell-tale signs again in Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Brighton.

For these reasons, they make little appeal at 31/20 to defeat Lyon on Merseyside on Thursday evening.

This is essentially a clash between two sides really struggling to locate the winning habit. Like Everton, Lyon too have been struggling lately, with only two wins from nine games.

However, one of those victories came last Friday in a confidence-boosting 3-2 win over Ligue 1 champions Monaco in what could be a turning point in their season.

Both clubs know that their Europa League fate is likely to live and die on their upcoming double-header. Group E is effectively wide open, with just a single win recorded thus far, when Everton were swept aside 3-0 by Atalanta in Italy in September.

Given both teams have found winning hard recently, a draw looks the most likely outcome now at 12/5.

The visitors have plenty European experience and would almost be fancied to win at Goodison Park but for their poor record of five defeats in eight previous away games against English opposition.

Following Lyon to Goodison Park will be Arsenal on Sunday. Like Everton, the Gunners may be settling for just a point on Europa League duty before that.

Arsene Wenger’s side have won both games so far, though not without some scares in beating Cologne 3-1 and BATE Borisov 4-2.

Next up is a trip to face Red Star Belgrade and what is, arguably, Arsenal’s toughest game in this group. An excellent away win in Germany on matchday two means Red Star are Arsenal’s nearest pursuers.

With a Sunday’s game on his mind, Wenger may be tempted to make changes on Thursday and, given the state of the group and the fact Red Star come to the Emirates next up, a draw would not be a damaging result now.

Arsenal’s frailties were in evidence against Watford on Saturday and backing them at 20/27 against a home side that has lost just once in ten games recently is a risky proposition. Instead, both teams will see positives should the draw pop up at 57/20 in this one and that looks more appealing than taking Arsenal to win.

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