Will the real Everton please stand up? Everton fans will be hoping it will be the Everton side the faced the Champions a fortnight ago as they entertain Stoke City at Goodison Park in the late kickoff on Saturday. After the disastrous exit in the FA Cup at the hands of Wigan, Everton bounced back in emphatic fashion to beat the reigning Champions 2-0, despite being down to 10 men for a third of the game. For the visitors, they have endured a tough recent run, a run which has only seen 1 win from 12 and last week they had a hard fought 0-0 draw with West Brom. For Everton, the 3pts will be vital in a bid to keep the pressure on Spurs who sit in 4th, and who knows, with a tough trip to the Liberty awaiting Spurs, Everton could only be 3pts behind Spurs with a game in hand.
Everton assistant Steve Round on the upcoming clash with Stoke
“Stoke are a difficult team to beat and always have been under Tony Pulis. They are very well-organised and difficult to break down. They are very difficult to score against and they will come to us and be resilient. It will be a tough game and we will have to be patient for 90 minutes and play our football. If we play with the same energy and verve that we did against Manchester City, we can beat anybody in this league.”
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has bemoaned has sides quality in front of goal saying
‘I think there’s reasons for that, People talk about the forwards, but Robert (Huth) and Ryan (Shawcross) haven’t scored as many goals this season. It’s one of the areas we have got to look at. Let’s get to 40 points and then analyse it.’
Everton Team News:
The win against Manchester City a fortnight ago did come at a cost for Everton. Everton will be without key players Marouane Fellaini, who picked up his 10th yellow card against City, and will miss the next 2 matches. Steven Pienaar will also miss the next two matches after picking up his 2nd red of the season in the win against City. The match against Stoke looks like it will come too fast for injured pair Tim Howard (back) and Phil Jagielka (ankle), however, both could have eyes on a return against Spurs next weekend.
Everton Starting XI: Mucha, Baines, Distin, Heitinga, Coleman, Gibson, Osman, Naismith, Mirallas, Anichebe, Jelavic
Player to watch: Nikica Jelavic
A beautiful sight it was to see the Croatian finally break his duck and seal the win against Man City. You could see the emotion from the manager, the players and the fans as he put the ball into the net and now everyone will be hoping that the goal can help rediscover his form from last season where he set the league alight. A fully fit and on form Jelavic is essential for Everton’s hope for 4th and I am sure Jelavic will be looking to make it 2 in 2 against Stoke.
Stoke City Team News:
The big positive for the Potters will be the return of influential defender Robert Huth, who finished his 3 game suspension against West Brom. Other than that, it could be largely the same side that faced West Brom with no new injury concerns for Pulis.
Stoke Starting XI: Begovic, Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Walters, Etherington, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Jerome, Crouch
Player to watch: Cameron Jerome
Everton defenders, especially Heitinga have struggled against these type of strikers this season. The combination of pace and power, like Jerome has, could be a big asset for Stoke as they look to steal an unlikely 3pts from Goodison. If Stoke can get the frontman involved and isolate him with Heitinga, they could find some success.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton have struggled against Stoke, they have only won once in the last 7 games against the Potters, and have only scored 4 goals during that run.
2. Over the past 12 months, Everton have only lost once at Goodison, a run that has seen them won 12 and drawn 6 games.
3. In contrast, Stoke have only won once in their last 24 away trips in the league, and have lost 5 straight away games
4. Since the start of the year, Stoke have only picked up 5pts, the lowest amount amassed by any team in the league
5. These two sides are the draw specialists of the league, Everton have drawn 12 matches this season and Stoke have drawn 13.
As mentioned ion the introduction, which Everton will decide to show up on Saturday? Should it be the one that showed up against Man City, then I would be extremely confident of picking up 3pts, however, you just don’t know, and with Stoke, as the game earlier this season showed, they will make it a very physical and tough encounter. However, given just how bad Stoke’s away form is, and just how good Everton have been at Goodison, Everton would surely have to be favourites, despite missing Pienaar and Fellaini. I will go for a hard fought 2-1 win with Jelavic and Mirallas scoring the goals for Everton to throw them right back into the mix for 4th. COYB!!!!! THE RACE FOR 4TH IS STILL ON LADS, NEED A BIG WIN!!!!!!