It has been a tale of 2 completely different stories for both Everton and Sunderland this season, and both will be looking for the 3pts when they meet at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. For Everton, it has been a good start, however, the recent run of draws is starting to take its toll, however, the performances, especially last week in a 2-2 draw with Fulham have been impressive, earning the side many plaudits for its attacking style of football. Everton will be looking to take advantage of a struggling Sunderland side and grab the 3pts and ensure their spot in the top 4 for another week. For the visitors, fans will not only be hoping for a good result, but more importantly a goal. Sunderland have started the season slowly, despite only losing twice, they have only won once this season, and see themselves lying in 16th. The poor start culminated in one of their worst results this season last week going down to a struggling Aston Villa side at home 1-0, where Sunderland were impotent in front of goal. So the 3pts will be vital for both sides for very different reasons
Everton star summer signing Kevin Mirallas highlighted the need for 3pts saying
‘It hasn`t been the best of runs in terms of points and certainly it makes Saturday’s game a real must-win. We need to pick up the three points at all costs because after that we’ve got some difficult games, a tough run, and if we want to stay up there fighting at the top of the table these are the sort of games where we need to get all the points.”
Former Everton striker and current black cat Louis Saha had this to say on his upcoming trip to his former side
“Everton are a team in form and it`s nice to see them doing well but obviously we need the three points. We will have to start very brightly to get the result we want. Everton is definitely a very tough place to go and it will be a hard game between two physical teams trying to get the result.”
Everton Team News:
Everton could be boosted by the return of influential midfielder Darron Gibson, the Irish international has trained the entire week, however, Moyes may be tempted to introduce him slowly into the starting line up given his lengthy layoff. Another boost will be the return of Tony Hibbert from a calf injury, like Gibson, he has trained all week, but he may have to bide his time on the bench given the form of Coleman. Everton star Fellaini and captain Neville are both one yellow away form a one game suspension, so they will need to be cautious.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Heitinga, Coleman, Neville, Osman, Mirallas, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Marouane Fellaini
Given last weeks performance, it was hard to put a finger on one player with the likes of Pienaar, Mirallas, Osman, Baines in top form, however, you cannot go past the influence of the big Belgian. Was unplayable against Fulham, scored both goals for Everton and was unlucky not to score a hat trick with a superb volley. Obviously, given his stature, the man is a physical lad, but many non-Everton fans neglect his technique with the ball, which is very good as he showed with his effort on goal last week. Really has the whole package and since his move to attacking midfielder at the start of this season has been sensational and has become the heartbeat of this side. Sunderland will most likely need to put 2 guys on the big man in order to curb his influence because he showed last week, only stick one guy on him, he will man handle him and dominate the game
Sunderland Team News:
Sunderland new signing, and former Evertonian, James McFadden suffered a hamstring problem and is listed as a doubt for the match. Defender Wes Brown and Titus Bramble are also doubts with knee and thigh injury respectively. Everton fans could see former striker Louis Saha return following his move to Spurs in January.
Possible Starting XI: Mignolet, Bardsley, Colback, Cuellar, O’Shea, Cattermole (c), Gardner, Larsson, Johnson, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher
He has been the main reason that Sunderland are not in the relegation zone so far, he has been the only Sunderland player to score a goal this season, scoring 5 of the team’s 6 goals, with the other being an own goal. Give him a chance and stats show he will put it away, the problem for Sunderland is, they cannot get him in those positions to score, the attacking stats are alarmingly worrying for this side, thankfully they have not been shipping goals or else they would be in big trouble. Everton defenders cannot give this lad time and space because he will punish Everton if allowed to shoot
Match Facts & Stats
1. Sunderland have had a total of 13 shots on goal this season, to put this into perspective, Everton had 17 shot on goal against Fulham last week, highlighting the attack for both sides
2. Everton became the first team, out of the 5 major European leagues to reach 200 shots on goal this season, highlighting their attacking style of football
3. Everton have conceded the first goal in the last 5 games, amazingly, they have not lost any of them, drawing 4 and winning 1. This is the first time it has happened in the league
4. This will be David Moyes’ 400th game in charge of Everton, during his 10 year reign, he has faced Sunderland 17 times, and is yet to lose to the Black Cats
5. Black Cats have endured a horror run against Everton, they have not won at Goodison Park since 1996.
Looking at the stats, it would be a brave man to tip a Sunderland win against Everton at Goodison. Despite the draw, the performance from Everton was brilliant last week, and I find it hard to believe, given just how dangerous this side is going forward, how Sunderland are going to keep a clean sheet, so they are going to have to try and score a goal, which has been incredibly hard for this side, make no mistake, this side has quality, the likes of Johnson, McClean, Sessegnon and Fletcher is a dangerous quartet, and I don’t want them getting a sniff against Everton. For the love of God Everton, can we keep a clean sheet in the first 10mins? We can ill afford to give dies a head start like we have done in the past month, needs to stop, Sunderland gives us a really good chance of a clean sheet, so fingers crossed. As a result, as I said, the stats point to an Everton win, and I will go for a 3-0 Everton win with a Jelavic brace and Mirallas scoring the 3rd. COYB!!! SICK OF THESE DRAWS ALREADY, 3PTS PLEASE!!!