Date:Friday August 31 2012
Everton travel to the Midlands for the 2nd time this week to take on a high flying West Brom side at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Everton are currently in brilliant form having taken maximum points in their opening games of the season in impressive style against Manchester United and Aston Villa. West Brom in similar fashion has been a surprise packet so far, an impressive win against Liverpool in opening day was followed up with a respectable draw against Spurs at White Hart Lane. Both teams were in action during the week in the Capital One Cup with Everton destroying Leyton Orient 5-0, whilst West Brom found it a bit more difficult, but still came out 4-2 winners against Yeovil. Both sides will be confident given their starts and both will be desperate to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season.
Everton shot stopper Tim Howard had nothing but praise for the upcoming opponents saying
"A tonne of credit goes to West Brom. They've been playing fantastically well. They ended last season really well, they've had a good start this time and it's going to be tough. But we're focused, we're determined, we`re playing some excellent football and we're confident. I don't know Steve Clarke personally but I've come across him before and he seems like a gentleman in every way, a top, top football man and he's earned the chance to be the captain of the ship, so to speak, at a great club like West Brom."
West Brom striker Shane Long is hoping to continue his form after finding the net against Yeovil saying
"The more games I play, the better I feel on the pitch and the more chances I have to score goals. That [goal] will build my confidence and I can go into Saturday on a high. There is strong competition for the strikers and, with the way we play, there is only really one place up front. There is a lot of competition but it`s good for the squad that there is a headache for the head coach."
West Brom also fielded an understrength side in the 4-2 victory over Yeovil during the week. Expect the likes of Foster, Ridgewell, McAuley, Olsson, Odemwingie and Morrison to be recalled. West Brom gaffer Steve Clarke has no real injury concerns ahead of the match and has a pick of the full squad with Odemwingie being available after missing the last 2 games. Odemwingie's return also gives the manager a massive headache with a plethora of striking options available with Long, Odemwingie, Rosenberg and Lukaku vying for starting positions in the side.
Possible Starting XI: Foster, Reid, Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Brunt, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Long, Odemwingie
Even though he is not starting, he has been impressive since his loan move from Chelsea. He has given the Liverpool and Spurs defenders massive headaches when he has come on. The combination of pace and strength provides serious troubles for defenders and the youngster will most likely find himself on the bench, but he is the definition of an impact striker as he gives the side energy and danger on the counter attack.
Despite the impressive performance midweek against Leyton Orient, expect mass changes to the side that won 5-0 on Wednesday night. Expect Howard, Fellaini, Distin, Gibson, Pienaar and Jelavic to be recalled into the starting XI. The only injury concerns revolve around the right back position, Hibbert missed the Villa and Orient matches with a neck injury but could be in contention for a starting place against West Brom. Club captain Phil Neville was taken off against Leyton Orient as a precaution and should be fit to face West Brom on Saturday. Moyes does have a headache though, with the right side of midfield up for grabs, new signings Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas both staked a claim for that position putting in impressive performances midweek.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Hibbert, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Naismith, Fellaini, Jelavic
The left back has flown under the radar of sorts to start the season, with the likes of Fellaini, Pienaar and Jelavic stealing the limelight, the always reliable Baines has been an integral part of the teams success this season so far. His partnership with Pienaar will be the focal point of Everton's attack and if they run riot, as they did against Aston Villa and Manchester United, then it will be hard to argue against an Everton win.
1. Everton are currently unbeaten in the last 11 games, avoid defeat against West Brom would extend it to 12 games unbeaten which will signal their longest unbeaten run since the 1984/85 season where they won the league title
2. Despite being a left back, Leighton Baines has created more chances for his teammates than any other player in the league having created 13 chances.
3. Everton have started games in brilliant fashion, in the last two first halves against Villa and Orient, they have scored 7 goals and conceded none, have had 20 shots at goal and only conceded one shot on goal.
4. This will be the 6th time in the Premier League that Everton will play at the Hawthorns, they have won 3 and lost 3. However, they did win the last meeting in a dour 1-0 win in January
5. Everton have been creating chances with ease this season, they have amassed the 2nd most shots on goal this season, only behind Chelsea, who have played one extra match
Unlike last weeks trip to the Midlands, this will be a tough match for Everton. West Brom are flying high after their last gasp equaliser away at Spurs and are a well organised side under Steve Clarke. It will be a very tough game with both sides playing some good football, it will be interesting to see whether West Brom can handle Fellaini as an attacking midfielder because so far, no-one has been able to handle him in that advanced role and that will be a key in deciding who wins. I would like to say we maintain our perfect record, but I think this match will end up in a draw, as a result, I will say 1-1 with Long scoring for West Brom and Jelavic scoring for Everton. COYB!!!! LETS KEEP THIS PERFECT START GOING AND MAKE IT 3 FROM 3!!!!!
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Date:Friday August 31 2012
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