Date: 15th December 2012 at 1:32am
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A buoyant Everton outfit heads to Stoke-on-Trent to take on a tough Stoke City side at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Everton’s confidence will be sky high following an amazing comeback to beat top 4 rivals Spurs 2-1, in which Everton scored 2 goals in 88secs to snatch the 3pts, a 3pts which saw them leapfrog Spurs into 4th. The hosts will be looking towards the home comfort of playing at Britannia to bounce back from a dour 0-0 against Aston Villa last weekend. Despite being 9th, Stoke are only 3pts behind Everton who sit in 4th, thus 3pts for both sides is imperative.

Vital Quotes:

Everton star Marouane Fellaini spoke about the importance of his teammates en route to wining the player of the month award saying

“I`m happy but if I didn`t have my teammates I wouldn`t be player of the month, for me, the most important thing is victory with the team. I have played here for five years now and it is the first time we are in the top four. I hope the team stays there. If you lose two games you can drop down the table. If we win this week and at West Ham we will stay in the top four. My teammates are also in good form. We have won some games and drawn against some of the big teams. It`s been good for the team.”

Stoke defender Robert Huth had nothing but praise for the Toffees saying

‘They are very professional and they beat teams in a good manner. If you speak to most of our players and supporters, Everton are the club who everyone aspires to be. They are very professional and they beat teams in a good manner. They can play you off the park or grind out a result. There is not just one style with them. Just look at how they beat Manchester United in the first game of the season … and then they went to Swansea and beat a good footballing team too.’

Stoke Team News:

Tony Pulis will be forced to make at least one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Aston Villa, with fullback Ryan Shotton seeing red in that match and will subsequently miss the Everton match. In some good news for the Stoke side, they welcome back Charlie Adam from suspension. Additionally, striker Michael Owen has been declared fit after playing 70mins midweek against Preston North End.

Possible Starting XI: Begovich, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Whelan, Adam, Nzonzi, Ehterington, Walters, Crouch

Player to watch: Charlie Adam

The former Liverpool man has adjusted to life at Stoke with ease. He can be described as their conductor or maestro as he tends to dictate Stoke’s play with his range of passing. Not to mention he has brilliant set pieces which, for a Tony Pulis side is a bonus. Adam will be the key to shutting down Stoke City.

Everton Team News:

Everton manager David Moyes revealed that star wideman Kevin Mirallas will again miss a few weeks with the same hamstring injury that kept him out for the past month. Also, right back Tony Hibbert is also set for a spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on his troublesome calf. These 2 players will join Everton captain Phil Neville (knee) and Victor Anichebe (hamstring) in the Everton treatment room.

Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Naismith, Fellaini, Jelavic

Player to watch: Darron Gibson

The unsung hero of this Everton side. Since joining Everton nearly a year ago, he has won over the vast majority of Everton fans. His style is rather simple, but yet it is still so effective, and when he is not in the line up it is noticeable. He is Everton’s conductor and dictates the way we play, his range of passing is brilliant and there is a reason why he still hasn’t lost a league game where he has started and finished the game for Everton.

Match Facts & Stats

1. Should Everton keeper Tim Howard start against Stoke, it will be his 200th consecutive start.

2. Stoke have only conceded 2 goals in the 7 league games they have had this season

3. Stoke also hold the longest unbeaten run at home now, the current unbeaten streak is at 14, stretching back 10 months.

4. Everton’s Marouane Fellaini has scoed 5 goals in his last 7 away games

5. Everton have earned 14pts when they have been in losing positions this season, only bettered by the two Manchester sides.

Match Prediction:

Despite the morale boosting win against Spurs last weekend, for me, this has draw written all over it. Stoke are incredibly tough at the Britannia, and the stats back that up. The Everton lads should know they will be in for a fight against Stoke, so they will have to fight tooth and nail for everything if they want to get the 3pts and retain 4th place. I am going for a 1-1 draw with Jelavic and Crouch scoring for their respective sides. COYB!!! PROVE ME WRONG AND GET THE 3PTS LADS!!!!!!!!!