Everton perspective: Brian Lewis, Royal Blue Mersey
With suspension to Marouanne Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, we are set to face Stoke with a slightly makeshift midfield. But with Everton sitting six points off fourth with a game in hand, there is a determined mood around Goodison. The Champions League is still within reach and these types of games are becoming must-wins.
Before the international break, Everton responded to their FA Cup defeat at the hands of Wigan by defeating Manchester City 2-0. Form before then was not fantastic, but we've shown we can win when it counts. Now we need to stop giving away silly points.
The December match between these two teams is best remembered for Marouane Fellaini headbutting Ryan Shawcross. That match ended in a 1-1 draw, and the previous seven matches between these sides have seen Everton win one and draw four.
Nikica Jelavic to score at 2.40. The Croatian struck late on against Manchester City, hopefully bringing an end to his goal drought.
Under 2.5 goals at 1.74. Stoke make things very difficult, so this could be a low-scoring affair.
Red card shown at 5.50. After the physical play of the first fixture this season, more handbags are possible.
Score prediction: Everton 1-1 Stoke (7.75)
Stoke perspective: Matt Meir, Potters Online
Tony Pulis welcomes back Robert Huth following suspension for an off-the-ball incident against Fulham. The of Huth-Ryan Shawcross partnership may just be the strong foundation needed in run-in. It is likely that Geoff Cameron will make way for Huth’s return, following the American’s appearances stateside for his national team. With no suspensions, Pulis has a full squad to choose from – a rare luxury for a football manager.
For the Potters, the two-week international came at the right time. It gave Pulis a chance to reassess the season, analyse tactics, rest tired players and realign the wheels that were beginning to fall off our season. In the ten Premier League fixtures played since January 1st, Stoke have won once and drawn twice. During that time, we have kept just one clean sheet.
David Moyes’ teams are frequently well disciplined, structured and solid. Don’t expect too many goals here; the calls for an “attacking” display at Goodison Park by Pulis are likely to be mere media talk. It’s not the first time such a claim has been made by the manager, only for him to renege on the statement and field a defensive line-up instead.
Both teams to score at 2.00. Many will expect defences to dominate here, but neither side has been particularly convicing of late.
Kenwyne Jones to score at 4.40. The big striker could relish facing John Heitinga.
Everton to win at 1.55. Sadly I don't see us getting anything from this one.
Score predition: Everton 2-1 Stoke (8.50)
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