Everton vs Stoke City

by | 28/12/2015  53 Comments  [Jump to last]
Match Preview

Everton close out 2015 with a tricky home fixture at Goodison Park as Mark Hughes's improved Stoke City come to town fresh from a morale-boosting home win over Manchester United on Boxing Day.

The Toffees received a shot in the arm of their own morale, however, with a last-gasp win over Newcastle United that vaulted them back into the top half of the table at the Potters' expense. Tom Cleverley's stoppage-time goal ensured that the two sides come into today's game level on points, with Everton ahead on goal difference.

Stoke's 2-0 triumph over Louis van Gaal's struggling Red Devils means that they have beaten both Manchester clubs at the Britannia Stadium this month, but their home defeat to Crystal Palace, a goalless draw at West Ham and their defeat at Sunderland at the tail end of last month illustrate how erratic they can be, too.

Furthermore, while they've won three times away from home this season, all three victories came against teams in the bottom half of the table battling to find form. They've only conceded seven times on their travels but they don't score many either, managing less than half of Everton's away tally to date.

That should give Roberto Martinez encouragement as he prepares for this one despite the fact that Bojan Krkic, Marco Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri are starting to gel as an effective attacking outfit. He will also be mindful, however, of how strong Hughes's robust side are at the back and that they will likely pose a more difficult barrier to break down than many of the teams the Blues have just faced.

Predicting which team the Catalan goes for is not as straightforward as usual and his selection may depend as much on fitness levels and how heavy was the toll inflicted by the heavy St James's Park pitch on Saturday as individual form and normal squad rotation. The back line largely picks itself but the manager has options in midfield and in attack.

Gareth Barry is vital in defensive midfield but his energy levels may be a concern less than 48 hours after playing the full 90 minutes on a difficult surface. He could start but then be replaced by someone like James McCarthy – if he is passed fit –Darron Gibson or Muhamed Besic in the second half.

Kevin Mirallas did well enough in place of Arouna Kone but it would not be a surprise to see Martinez restore the Ivorian to the line-up at home while Aaron Lennon was useful against the Magpies but Gerard Deulofeu, while flattering to deceve in his 20-minute cameo, did help create the winning goal.

With so many difficult games on the horizon, it's imperative that Everton use the nature of that 1-0 win at Newcastle to spur them on to greater attacking fluidity and potency, starting with this game against Stoke. It certainly won't be easy but, once again, it's one those games they should win if they are to show themselves to be the top six side they believe they are.

Kick off: 3pm
Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Report


Reader Comments (53)

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John Malone
1 Posted 28/12/2015 at 08:45:24
Set pieces!
Craig Fletcher
2 Posted 28/12/2015 at 08:47:44
Tough one, Stoke look good this season, and are in style very similar to us so it'll be interesting.

Shaqiri, Bojan and Arnautovic are to them what Barkley, Deulofeu and Miralles are to us, and in Shawcross and Wollschield at the back they also look solid defensively.

Hopefully the Newcastle result is going to be the catalyst for us to get a decent winning run going over the winter. 2-1 Everton, COYB!

Brian Williams
3 Posted 28/12/2015 at 08:48:16
I think he should play both Gerry and Mirallas on either wing, from the start, and use pace to beat their defence. 2-0 to us.
Kunal Desai
4 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:11:36
Might need to be patient in this one to break a resolute Stoke defence which has conceded 16 goals.
I'd personally like to see Galloway in place of Baines. Maybe give Barry a break and if fit play Macca. Deulofeu in place of Lennon. Barkley playing just behind Lukaku.
Anthony Millington
5 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:17:06
I think Martinez should change the line up slightly by resting Baines an Mirallas who played at Newcastle who aren't yet match fit. I'd bring in Galloway for Baines.

In midfield I'd bring Deulofeu in and play Kone to give some physical presence against a strong Stoke team who will try and isolate Lukaku. I think Lennon and Mirallas would be good early options off the bench if Kone doesn't perform.

I don't think Barry should play as there isn't enough rest time and someone like Gibson or Besic could comfortably fill in with Barry on the bench. We would go above United with a win today atleast until their gave this evening. COYB.
Brent Stephens
7 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:32:19
Lukaku versus Shawcross - bring it on!
Eddie Dunn
8 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:34:03
This has a draw written all over it, and it wouldn't be a bad result, but if we can push that bit harder, and perhaps get the rub of the green, then a win would be excellent and give us a huge boost for the year ahead.

Aidy Dews
10 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:39:13
I know this will be tough and Stoke are a good side these days and have some dangerous players but this is must win today to keep us in the hunt for CL!

I said in the week on other forums and social media outlets that the Newcastle & Stoke games were must win and we've come through one and now we have to win this, and tbh, beat Tottenham Sunday aswell to put us right back in the mix for Europe!

Anything less just isn't good enough I'm afraid. If we don't get 6 points in our next 2 games (home games), regardless of how tough there going to be, then we could be looking at a season fighting for top 10, top 8 instead of a top 4, top 5 fight.

Oliver Molloy
12 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:44:16
If we start like we did at Newcastle AND take our chances this time we will win by a couple of goals.
If we sit back and play the sideways football we will be asking for trouble.
Strong ,fast , aggressive and attacking football from the off.
Could be a red card or two in this game!
Helen Mallon
13 Posted 28/12/2015 at 09:46:51
My team
Howard
Coleman
Stones
Mori
Galloway
Delboy
Cleverly
Barry
Besic
barkley.
Lukaku. Besic played on the left to help out on the left side. Intricate football will unlock there defence then long ball to Kobe if all else fails
Thomas Surgenor
15 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:03:00
Problem here is that stokes main threat comes from their 2 (hard working) wide players cutting in. From what I've seen, there not as much about getting crosses in the box - there wingers tend to cut in. They have 7 men that stay compact behind the ball then three match winners who can roam as they like up top.
This totally nullifies our fullbacks going forward.

I fear he will play kone, who will fall asleep for that vital second that sees shaquri ghost inside.

Honestly, I'm a huge Mirallas fan but if naisy is fit I would play him. Naisy has the work effort and the ignorance to mix it up with their henchmen.

On the other side arnautivic is in form and one of the hardest working wingers in the prem. If we start del (which we should), then young del will be knackered by half time. This is where Martinez needs to make a change at the first signs of him lagging. I'd change him on the hour for Mirallas to keep the defensive/attack balance of the team.

My approach would be a trade off between attacking intent and nullifying the wide men. I would start del but Roberto needs to be prompt with the sub. We used to constantly lambast OFM on here for his regular 60min subs, what I wouldn't give for a 60 min sub these last few games!

Thomas Surgenor
16 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:04:10
Helen, long ball against Stoke?
To quote a former manager of mine, "it would be like feeding buns to a bear"
Rob Hooton
17 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:06:25
Will be interesting to see how Lukaku fares against Shawcross - many on here, including myself, would like a Shawcross type so we will either be vindicated or left looking silly, hopefully the latter!

Fancy us to nick this and really hope so as one of my best mates is a Stokie so COYB!!

Jon Cox
18 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:18:45
Notice how Cleverly seems to be hanging around the edge of the 18 yard box?

I see another goal from him, today.

Sorry Helen can't go with Galloway today. We'll need the creativity of Bainesy down the left with Mirallas in front. Besic in the middle for sure but he's not a winger.

We need to be powerful down both flanks. As for the right I'd start with Lennon and bring on Geri for the last 25 mins.

Same for Macca. It's no use bringing players back that are not match fit or match sharp especially against an in form team like Stoke.

If RM gets his team selection and tactics right,

I'm with Craig, 2-1

COYB!

Jon Withey
21 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:42:25
Difficult fixture...could be an interesting game.

Start with the freshest legs that can manage their wingers, attacking midfield.

Hit them on the break with some intelligent passing from Gibson.

Bring on Mirallas or Del when their legs are tiring.

Wonder about Baines fitness - maybe Galloway should start.

Lukaku was great against Newcastle but maybe he should get a break for first or second half.

Would be great to see one of our youngsters get a chance to run their heart out against a tired team - Walsh or Dowell.

...Or we could just field the same side as Newcastle, heh.


Jon Withey
22 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:42:27
Difficult fixture...could be an interesting game.

Start with the freshest legs that can manage their wingers, attacking midfield.

Hit them on the break with some intelligent passing from Gibson.

Bring on Mirallas or Del when their legs are tiring.

Wonder about Baines fitness - maybe Galloway should start.

Lukaku was great against Newcastle but maybe he should get a break for first or second half.

Would be great to see one of our youngsters get a chance to run their heart out against a tired team - Walsh or Dowell.

...Or we could just field the same side as Newcastle, heh.


Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:47:18
I hope for another win today, surprising how many fans have little trust in Lennon, especially to start, good worker who is no mean player as well.

I have'nt missed many home games since I started in 1948 but will miss this one through a wedding, so come on Everton make my day and win this one,preferbally with a bit of style but anyway will do today.

Norman Jones
24 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:47:19
Barry is the heartbeat of our side and I am sure he can give us at least 70 minutes today. Normally, I would expect Naisey to get a run but rumour is rife that he is on his way. Therefore expect Kone to regain his place at the expense of the unimpressive Mirallas.

If Everton is to improve on last year's final placing it is vital that we chalk up more wins and we have shown that we can beat teams below us in the table.

Ray Roche
25 Posted 28/12/2015 at 10:58:05
Norman, you can't expect Mirallas to start pulling up trees when he's hardly had a kick this season. I'd start with him AND Lennon who ran his nuts off at Newcastle and offers more cover for Coleman than Deulofeu and also shows more understanding with Coleman. Barry must be a concern with two games in three days but he was excellent on Saturday.
Paul Tran
26 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:05:57
Ray, I'm not Mirallas' biggest fan, but if I was manager I'd tell him he's got six straight games to earn a place or transfer, whatever he wants. Then he can show us how wonderful he is, or demonstrate why he ain't getting picked. Lennon's a definite starter for me and I'd love to get Geri on when some of them are on a yellow!

We're gonna need to give it everything today and take our chances.

Ray Roche
27 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:10:43
Paul, I agree regarding Mirallas. He has shown us that he can be the real deal in the past but, like all flair players, he isn't consistent. You just have to accept that.
Del/yellow? Good plan.
Sam Morrison
28 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:13:50
I don't feel confident about this. Everton this season are brilliant going forward, less than brilliant at finishing and far from brilliant in defence. With the way Stoke's forward line have been playing it's got home defeat written all over it. I was a big Martinez fan after that first season, and remain so in terms of the squad he's assembled and the football we play.

But unless we develop that gritty ability to grind out a result as well as win with flair - which starts with a solid back line - I just don't see us improving on last season. Hope I'm wrong.

Keith Monaghan
29 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:15:07
Totally agree Ray - would def start with Barry - could bring Besic on if/when Barry tires.
Barkley's lack of effort without the ball a big concern for me too. Certainly wouldn't use Kone - not tough or quick enough for this game.
COYB
Mark Tanton
30 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:21:39
Another 'push on' moment this season. Will we take it or will we refuse to take the opportunity yet again?
Trevor Peers
31 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:28:26
Can we finally get back to back wins in the premiership ? Roberto tells us are have made progress, this is the real test.

Hopefully our luck has changed after out playing Palace, Bournemouth and Norwich and dropping vital points, partly due to bad luck, maybe we are finally starting to get the rub of the green.

If so I think we can beat Stoke and build up much needed momentum, because January is a key month for us, and an opportunity to see how our season will develop. There's no secret formula, hard work is required though.

Steve Pugh
33 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:29:52
Ray, I think Paul means to bring on Del when the Stoke boys are on a yellow so that they can't hack him down without getting sent off. Unfortunately Twattenberg is reffing today so they'll probably get away with it.
David Hallwood
35 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:31:54
I posted on another thread don't underestimate Stoke; they have a great front three, an even better back four and one of the best GKs in the EPL. They've tonked both Manc clubs and also the now customary beating of Chelsea.

IMO they have a better balance to the side than we have and I'm expecting a tough match; today and next Sunday vs the Spuds will give us more of an indication about how good the team is.

Final point, if we do end up with 6 pts, will I be delighted or even more pissed at the 6 points dropped this month.

Steven Jones
36 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:47:03
Two games in 3 Days is the key here for selections. For both sides - think Stoke selection might be interesting.

We do not know the reaction of legs and niggles within such a short recovery period for them and us.

I hope Hughes plays their three front men from the off and we do some keep ball in the first half - get their legs gone.

For us expect a refreshed Kone to play with the vigour of a few weeks back. Also back will be Geri - again pre-meditated rotation from RM.

Same reason that I expect Barkley to start as he was spelled up at Newcastle.

Coleman, Stones, Mori will stay the same bar an injury and Jags will be rushed back.

Whatever RM decides on Baines recovery protection from injury given 40 hours and a trip. Galloway will freshen things up but lacks the accurate vision and passing links and the attacking of the best left back in Europe when match fit.

Centre Mid - Think he will go with Besic and Cleverly resting Barry on the bench. 2 of these three.

Just leaves Lukaku, which will get a spell at 60 mins with Mirallas or Naismith on.

Ray Roche
37 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:47:37
Steve, I realised the thoughts on Del/yellow and agreed with them. Probably my wording misled things. Clattenberg has, in my view, improved over the seasons and is now possibly one of the better refs which is a bit like saying Hitler had his faults too.

Kone could carry the water bottles. Nothing else. (watch what happens now, Kone will come on and score a hat trick)

Steven Jones
38 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:50:29
Ray,
I expect a re-freshed Kone - think at his age and the lay off he could not keep the pace, energy and sharpness he showed earlier in the season ..

So Hatrick for Kone it is!

Ray Roche
39 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:53:05
I hope you're right Steve. I fancy a bit of humble pie.
David Hallwood
40 Posted 28/12/2015 at 11:55:40
Ray(#29) Clattenburg has been a top ref from day one, which makes his erm...performance in the Derby all the more curious.
Eugene Ruane
41 Posted 28/12/2015 at 12:01:03
How will it go?

No idea - good performances or bad, our collective memory appears to be wiped after each game (well...I can't think of any logical reason for why lessons appear never to be learnt).

What would be nice would be that when/if we have one of our irresistible spells (first 25 mins NUFC, fist half Norwich etc) we show a little more calm and hit someone for 3 or 4.

We can but dream.

Right, well I'd better get my coat on and get moving, coz I don't know the meaning of losing (splits side laughing) and get down to Goodison Park.

OOOOOOOOOOO!

Up the Toffees!!

Helen Mallon
43 Posted 28/12/2015 at 12:19:25
Eugene Ruane enjoy the game mate you know what whatever the score your last words will always ring btrue for every toffee.

Right, well I'd better get my coat on and get moving, coz I don't know the meaning of losing (splits side laughing) and get down to Goodison Park.

OOOOOOOOOOO!

Up the Toffees!!

Ray Roche
44 Posted 28/12/2015 at 12:29:08
David#32, Amen to THAT!

I suppose I'de better get my own arse in gear and saddle the horses. Enjoy the game, Lads, give the live thread some stick,

Might as well join in...

OOOOOOOOOOO!

Up The Toffees!!

Steavey Buckley
45 Posted 28/12/2015 at 12:40:54
No matter how good a defence appears on paper, proper width (full backs and wingers) on both sides of the pitch will unhinge any good defensive side like Stoke. But go 'narrow' in the middle with players playing through the middle, it is food and drink for good defensive sides like Stoke. Play Deulofeu on one side and Lennon on the other, Everton will come good today.
Ciaran Duff
46 Posted 28/12/2015 at 12:41:38
I noticed on Livescore that they had the team line outs up long before the game. I assumed that they were guesses but for the Newcastle game they had the line-up correct with Mirallas included!

So, let's see if it is true for this game. According to them our line up is:-

Howard, Baines, Stones, Funes Mori, Coleman; Cleverley, Barry, Barkley; Kone, Lukaku, Deulofeu.

Jim Bennings
47 Posted 28/12/2015 at 13:20:25
They've probably got a good three or four players I'd love to see in a blue shirt, Shawcross, Butland, Bojan, Shaqiri, and I particularly like Arnautovic this past 12 months, getting better and better.

This will be a tough game.

Jack Cross
48 Posted 28/12/2015 at 13:51:27
These will be a tough nut to crack. They haven't scored many 16, but only had 16 against them. Won 7 games to our 6. They have had 2 defeats away, drawn 4 away and had 5 clean sheets away.

If we can beat this team, that will be 2 back to back wins, then I would feel confident in saying our season starts here with a good run.

It's no good guessing on who is going to play. But if we have as much possession as we did against Newcastle, this time we will have to make it count. Or against these it could be our downfall.

Ian McDowell
50 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:06:38
No Lennon or Mirallas on the bench either.
Mark Tanton
51 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:08:32
McCarthy in, Cleverley out. Baines out, Galloway in.
Richard Lyons
52 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:14:47
So Stoke have won their away games "against teams in the bottom half of the table battling to find form" ... Now wouldn't it be good if we could be like that?

We really should win this one, but I think we'll be lucky to get a draw. If form is, in large part, a psychological thing, I fancy Mark Hughes will have them better prepared than Roberto...

Anthony Flack
53 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:15:06
More height from Galloway, more defending... McCarthy to bite in midfield makes sense, unsure about Lennon and Mirrales who both did OK at Newcastle?
Joe Clitherow
54 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:15:47
Lennon and Mirallas both need game time. Both clearly better options than Kone, as is Naismith for this game
Eddie Dunn
55 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:22:50
I think Baines took a knock putting in a block at Newcastle, so not surprised to see him rested, but Cleverley was surely worth a start. As for Mirallas and Lennon not getting even on the bench, it can't be to rest them, as they have had little to do!
Christy Ring
56 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:25:41
Big changes, don't understand why Mirallas and Lennon are not in the squad, unless injured, as we have 4 midfielders on the bench. Cleverly must be disappointed after scoring the winner at Newcastle.
Tim Locke
57 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:26:40
No surprise with line up; but surprised with the bench. Mate sat in lounge next to Nick Hancock, surly a sign of a win.
Jay Wood
58 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:26:47
I can understand the personnel change to freshen up the team less than 48 hours after the Barcodes game, but as Joe Clitherow mentions, I'm disappointed neither Lennon or Mirallas are even on the bench today. As Joe says, they both need more game time.

A tricky game against one of the league's meanest defences. Ever hopeful of an Everton win and our first back to back victories in the league this season. We need to on a WINNING run.

Kevin Elliott
59 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:27:04
Where is the live forum ?
Brian Porter
60 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:28:29
Oh no, Kone in and no Cleverley. Have a bad feeling about this one. Kone has been crap lately, he's had his moment. Move him on.
Jay Harris
61 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:35:27
Although this Stoke team play better football than of old they are very physical.

I would like to see McCarthy and/or Besic used in this game.

I do not think it will suit Geri at all based on his tantrums recently when he has been tightly marked so I would go with Lennon again.

Despite some criticism I think Barkley is getting better every game so he would be a definite in the middle for me.

I know it wont happen but I would try Bainesy in the LM position and Put Galloway LB.

Christy Ring
64 Posted 28/12/2015 at 14:40:17
Just read a report that the squad had a meeting with Martinez and Jones, complaining about tactics and being too open and vulnerable. It tells us a lot about the defensive side of Martinez game.
Glen Garrett
66 Posted 28/12/2015 at 15:51:56
Stoke 2-1 up at half-time... oh dear Everton defence losing the plot once again.. the manager must go!

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