Date:Wednesday January 1 2014
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Everton will hope to start the new year with 3pts as they travel to the Brittania to take on Stoke City on New Years Day. Everton bounced back from their defeat to Sunderland on Boxing Day with a hard fought and gritty 2-1 win over Southampton, a result which saw them jump into the top 4 to start 2014. Stoke have had a festive period to forget, they were thumped 5-1 by Newcastle on Boxing Day and followed that up with a 3-0 loss to Tottenham, however, at the Brittania, Stoke will be a different side in front of their home fans. It looms as an important match for both sides, Everton need the 3pts in order to keep their place in the top 4 and also keep the pressure on the top 3, as for Stoke, they need to stop this nasty run of form and in front of their home fans, another performance like the last 2 and they could be in trouble
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is well aware of the threat Stoke possess at the Brittania saying
"You look at their last two results, there was a freak performance against Newcastle and that affected them going into Spurs.
"Stoke at home are unbeaten in their last six. They have won their last two, which were impressive performances and results against Chelsea and Aston Villa. When they play at the Britannia they are an extremely difficult team.
"We know what we are facing and we need to be at our best and fully recovered. I expect a very difficult game tomorrow."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes on the upcoming match
'Everton are doing very well and we've had recent experience of the quality that they're showing.
'Obviously we were well beaten at Goodison, 4-0, and it could have been more if we're honest. We've got a quick opportunity to turn that round.
'It was very difficult for us, Everton on the day were very good and deserved to win comprehensively, but this is our home game and our home form's good so we want to put in a better showing than we did at Goodison.
'We're enjoying playing at home at the moment, we're getting great support and we want to carry on our good run at the Britannia.'
Stoke are set to welcome back Whelan and Wilson from suspension after both picked up red cards in the loss to Newcastle. Stoke are also set to be boosted with the return of winger Arnautovic, who has recovered from illness. Stoke will be without Wilkinson as he injured his heel in the defeat to Tottenham. Stoke will also be without Begovic (finger) and Huth (knee).
Possible Starting XI: Sorensen, Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Pieters, N'zonzi, Whelan, Walters, Assaidi, Adam, Crouch
With Everton potentially without their 2 starting CB's, Crouch may fancy his chances against Alcaraz and especially Stones. Crouch hasn't exactly been in the greatest of form this season for Stoke, with him being linked with a move away in January, however, he will still possess a threat to Everton. Many will point to his height, which is a big threat, especially since Stones and Alcaraz aren't the tallest CB's, but his technique on the ball is often neglected and if you give him some time and space he can punish you.
Everton suffered another injury blow over the festive period with captain Phil Jagielka ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury. To compound that loss, his partner in defence Sylvain Distin is also struggling with a hamstring problem and could miss the match. If that is the case, then Everton will turn to Alcaraz and Stones as the centre back pairing. In some good news for Everton, they are set to welcome back Howard and Barry as both served their one match suspensions against Southampton. Everton also welcomed back left back Leighton Baines against Southampton after missing a month with a broken toe. Everton are still without Kone (knee, season), Gibson (knee, season) and Deulofeu (hamstring, 2-3wks).
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Stones, Alcaraz, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Pienaar, Barkley, Lukaku
Not often a right back makes this section but Coleman has been sensational thus far. Defensively, he is a pivotal component of the tightest defence in the league and is rarely beaten by the opposing winger, however it is his attacking threat that has really stood out this season and is starting to garner national attention. Coleman already has 5 goals to his name, and they have ranged from tap ins, to superb solo efforts from 30yds out. With Baines not at 100% yet, the play will continue to flow through Everton's right side, and Stoke will need to pay close attention to the runs of Coleman because he is punishing sides this season.
1. Stoke have picked up 16 of their 21pts at the Brittania this season. The highest % in the league.
2. Stoke are currently 6 games unbeaten in the league at home and have only suffered one loss at the Brittania all season
3. Everton of hold the edge in this fixture, in the past 16 league games between the two, Stoke have only been victorious twice. However, Everton have not won at the Brittania in their last 4 attempts.
4. The Everton defenders have scored 9 goals this season, to put that into perspective, Stoke's strikers have scored 4 goals in total this season
5. Everton have scored 8 times in their last 11 matches inside the final 20mins.
This isn't going to be easy for Everton, ignore Stoke's previous 2 matches because they are a completely different side at home, and they are going to be fighting for everything because their fans will be on their back given their past 2 results. The CB positions will be a worry if Distin is deemed unfit to play, and will be an area which Stoke can exploit. This match could go either way and I don't see more than a goal in it. As for a prediction, not exactly sure, so I will sit on the fence and say a 1-1 draw with Barkley and Adam scoring. COYB!!!! MASSIVE 3PTS AT STAKE, LETS KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR IN STYLE!!!
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Date:Wednesday January 1 2014
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