Has Kevin Mirallas earned a second successive start with his impressive performance against Chelsea?
Having enjoyed a rare full week's preparation between fixtures, Everton play the first of five games in the space of just 14 days with the visit of Swansea City to Goodison Park this Sunday.
It's a run of matches that promises to be season-defining for Roberto Martinez and his team – back to back Premier League victories over the Swans and Newcastle followed by a successful revenge mission at Stoke could vault the Blues back into European contention, while a pair of positive results in the cup could see them sidestep a potential banana skin in Carlisle and book their place in their first Wembley final in seven years.
The notion that Martinez's side could win five on the bounce – in reality, of course, a draw at the Etihad on Wednesday would do – when they have yet to win more than two in a row in all competitions this season so far might sound a little fanciful but that is essentially the reality facing Everton if they are to remain alive on all three fronts.
Adamant that his side won last Saturday's controversial game at Chelsea – the fourth good or decent result since the turn of the year – Martinez has expressed his confidence that his team is continuing to learn its lessons and, with more personnel due back from injury in the coming days, the squad is primed to go on the kind of run it needs to finally ignite the League campaign.
He could welcome Seamus Coleman back after two and a half weeks out with a calf strain to ease the selection problem at right back that was thrown up by his absence. Bryan Oviedo is fit to deputise there again if required – the Costa Rican suffered no damage to his ankle at Stamford Bridge after all despite being stretchered off – and John Stones is again another option but the manager would surely like to see his first-choice fullback start.
In midfield, Tom Cleverley should be fit enough to start and will surely be in Martinez's thinking for the left sided midfield role he has filled already this season, although he will face stern competition from Kevin Mirallas who has surely earned his place in the starting XI following his impressive display last weekend.
It's also possible that, having seen Gerard Deulofeu struggle in recent games as a starter and Aaron Lennon fail to make a significant impact himself that Martinez could deploy the Belgian on the right and Cleverley on the left.
Swansea will have new manager Francesco Guidolin in the dugout for the first time since he was appointed as the long-term successor to Gark Monk, though much of the direction will probably still come from interim boss Alan Curtis who oversaw the South Wales side's victory over Watford last time out.
That represented their first win since Boxing Day and kept them out of the relegation zone by a point coming into this weekend's games but with one win on their travels so far this season and only one win over Everton in any competition in their history, they know they will have their work cut out for them.
For Martinz and Everton, the opportunity is there to finally demonstrate that they are the kind of team that they and the fans know they can be. They will know that, with 11 draws on the board and just one home win in the Premier League since November, nothing short of victory will do.
With goals continuing to flow at the right end, doing what it takes to win the game up front should not be a problem based on recent evidence – it's retaining the defensive solidity and organisation that they showed against Spurs and Chelsea at Goodison that will be the keys to all three points.
Kick off: 1.30pm
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Predicted line-up: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, Besic, Cleverley, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb Match Report
Reader Comments (105)
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1 Posted 23/01/2016 at 08:12:52
a) We will be;
b) We let in a stupid goal from a defensive mix-up mid-way through the second half, then press relentlessly and get the equaliser in the 85th minute, while the RS win 4-0;
c) We lose 2-0, Mirallas is sent off, RM falls on his sword and Bill sells to the folk from Dallas.
Odds: (a) 4-1; (b) evens; (c) 50-1.
2 Posted 23/01/2016 at 08:16:30
Carlisle... well, it's the FA Cup so we need to be at our best with a strong line up. How far away is Joe Williams from the first team squad? He looks like a good player?
3 Posted 23/01/2016 at 08:40:38
4 Posted 23/01/2016 at 09:23:16
5 Posted 23/01/2016 at 09:46:09
6 Posted 23/01/2016 at 09:51:43
I have a feeling that what it will be is us leading two-nil, conceding with five minutes to go from the first shot on target a turgid Swans side muster before descending into blind panic and defending like a set of divs for the remaining four minutes before yet again conceding the now obligatory last kick of the game equaliser.
7 Posted 23/01/2016 at 10:20:10
7 points from the next 3 league games, a positive result at City and victory at Carlisle will set the rest of the season up for us quite nicely.
8 Posted 23/01/2016 at 10:23:03
Enough guff from the manager and the players. We're at home to a relegation candidate and we supposedly consider ourselves a contender for the European places. 3pts or some people can start packing bags.
Team wise, Mirallas is chomping so he's got to start. I'd bench Stones and have Jagielka and Funes Mori in. Stones as back up in case Coleman needs a rest second half.
Barry, Besic, Ross and Cleverley making up the rest of the midfield. Deulofeu for a second half appearance.
We simply have to win.
9 Posted 23/01/2016 at 10:34:16
However what happens if we do not yet again?
10 Posted 23/01/2016 at 10:45:46
To be fair, we do have strength in depth nowadays, so it will not be that radical a change! Bring on the mighty Kone and Pienaar!!
11 Posted 23/01/2016 at 10:50:02
12 Posted 23/01/2016 at 11:02:12
Tim 'the indestructible' Howard
Oviedo, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines
Lennon, Mirallas, Pienaar
Btw Mark (#1), I phoned Ladbrokes for a price and they gave me 8/11!
13 Posted 23/01/2016 at 11:02:14
Still I would be happy with the 3 points from Sunday!!!
14 Posted 23/01/2016 at 11:25:39
It's nearly half a week between the games and our squad is big enough to cope with any possible injuries. An injury to Lukaku would be the only one that would seriously affect our chances.
15 Posted 23/01/2016 at 11:49:33
Somebody posted this week that the winners of this now de-valued trophy pick up a measly £100k. When each Premier League place is worth 15 times that amount and manager and players are rewarded accordingly, you don't have to be a genius to know where priorities lie!
16 Posted 23/01/2016 at 11:56:01
A word of caution: Swansea have a new manager we never beat new managers!!
17 Posted 23/01/2016 at 12:02:17
18 Posted 23/01/2016 at 12:14:06
I'm shitting it about that game already having travelled to the first leg and with no chance getting to the second leg (unless anybody out there has a spare ticket floating about!) so will be enduring the Sky coverage in the sunny Sarf East.
Get a 2 (....no, 3 safer) goal cushion. Sub the key men, and play it out.
19 Posted 23/01/2016 at 12:16:32
Swans with new manager is odds on he gets a result from the blue charity team.
Draw or a loss can't see this team ever wining a game under this deluded excuse of a manager.
20 Posted 23/01/2016 at 12:22:25
21 Posted 23/01/2016 at 13:12:31
22 Posted 23/01/2016 at 13:27:33
1. If we bench Stones for a period of time and Funes Mori becomes the regular partner for Jags, Stones' value will likely tumble quite a bit. We need to play a longer game here. For those of you who think Funes Mori is better, I say we need to start Stones and get full crazy value for him in the summer. Funes Mori can start next year.
2. I don't think Funes Mori is better than Stones. Remember, Funes Mori has been beaten in front of the net for goals as well. Don't get me wrong. I like Funes Mori as a player and he will deservedly get his day. We're lucky in a way to have both. Unfortunately they will make their share of youthful mistakes.
24 Posted 23/01/2016 at 14:48:35
Where are the modern day Dave Watson's or Tony Adams?
There are few left in that mould like Shawcross and maybe a couple over 30, Colllins at West Ham but in the main it's because we no longer school our youth to actually DEFEND or want to DEFEND.
How many players now actually enjoy just DEFENDING!
25 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:05:52
26 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:16:51
Jim 48, welcome to the 21st century. You will never see the likes of Watson or Adams again. Is that a good thing? I don't know. I tend to prefer the modern CB e.g. Stones, Maldini, Varane, Piqué, Thiago etc.....
27 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:17:24
If you want to learn how to head the ball true with conviction, them you want the ball in the air and meet it with your eyes wide open. Tim Cahill was an expert at it, Big Dunc too!
Heading a ball is a massive part of defending and takes bravery to correct and more important, perfect, and too many lads these days just don't want to head the ball.
Re: Kinnear, if you say so, Colin.
But you'll never have a great defence with a lad walking the ball out but being unable to bully opponents or head the ball with hunger.
29 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:28:08
30 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:38:56
Christ ...I'm delusional. Wonder how many minutes will go by before Swansea score.
My team would be: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, Besic, Deulofeu, Mirallas, Barkley and Lukaku.
31 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:48:03
32 Posted 23/01/2016 at 15:51:48
33 Posted 23/01/2016 at 16:07:03
You don't pick your team based on how it affects a player's value, but on who your best eleven are based on current form and on that basis I would start Funes Mori ahead of Stones for sure at present. Apart from anything else, we lose a potent goal threat without Ramiro.
Talking of goals, nice to see Steven Naismith reminding us what we've lost with a goal on his debut for Norwich a goal Kone would never have scored, Roberto.
Back to us, and we need defenders who actually defend. How many times in recent weeks has Funes Mori been left as the last man in defence and has coped admirably, while Stones has been trying to regain his ground? I'm glad most people seem to agree with me, but of course it's not us who picks the team, but I hope Roberto reads this, and listens to the fans for once.
34 Posted 23/01/2016 at 16:09:59
35 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:09:59
36 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:13:01
It is starting to look like the league is quickly becoming a predictable mid-table finish, four points behind 10th now and clubs like Watford having won three more games.
I'd be having all my eggs in the League Cup basket now.
I'd rather finish 11th or 12th and lift a trophy, at least that can be deemed a success and we see something at the end of it. For those who say finishing lower in the league costs us money, forget money this summer. Bill Kenwright and the board know full well they are sitting on a £90 million gold mine in Lukaku and Stones if they want to cash in.
League positions this season are irrelevant for Everton's summer coffers, unless we finish 4th, which has long vanished over the mountains.
37 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:14:52
So to me no discussion, best possible side out and a win is a must.
39 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:19:07
40 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:20:38
So no point in knocking ourselves out trying to get into the top six. The cash we get for the two I've mentioned will more than make up for any money we lose in a mid-table finish. Would like to be above the RS though.
41 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:36:09
Just gives more experience for the squad kids/players.
No Europa League has hardly benefited us this season anyway, yet it's not exactly damaged Spurs, has it?
42 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:40:33
43 Posted 23/01/2016 at 17:48:16
Defeat is unthinkable, it would leave Swansea only 4 points behind us, and they have had a disastrous season, so it's become an important game all of a sudden.
44 Posted 23/01/2016 at 18:31:47
Stones losing value costs EFC about £40M (most here argue more). That's two very good players, difference-makers, even...
This is not FIFA Football. A club has to balance today with how the club is set up for tomorrow. That is why teams do not play all 29-year-olds.
Besides, even if Funes Mori is better than Stones, he's not that much better. Have we all forgotten the goals scored because of him? Again, I like Funes Mori.
Your "best 11" is not better than having Stones in and even if it was, it's not worth the price of a couple of quality players next year. Especially with Funes Mori ready to play.
BTW Funes Mori was a Martinez signing.
46 Posted 23/01/2016 at 18:54:48
The inconsistent way that we are playing isn't early season nerves now, it may be that we have reached our level with this squad and manager. We have improved but so have everybody else and the others seem to know better how to play the modern game.
We more and more look like a one-trick pony that sides know how to beat especially at Goodison and we aren't learning anything from them. Leicester beat Stoke well today, that shows just how good they are.
47 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:01:43
And yes, I want Everton to win a cup. Believe me. But I also want Everton to be challenging in the league. Not a choice between one or the other. Can Martinez deliver on both? I'm not really sure that he can. Does Martinez really rotate his squad? Or does he simply drop form players, for his favourites? If he really did understand the concept of rotating, then we might actually be in a healthier position. But when he tinkers. Everton tend to struggle. Note that I said "tinkers". Because I don't think Martinez knows how to "rotate". He just "tinkers".
48 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:07:56
49 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:10:45
50 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:17:14
51 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:33:07
Whereas we are all under pressure, the players, the manager and us poor buggers for a much needed win. We don't want another draw, that's for sure.
Then you can throw in the Man City game Wednesday, that's maybe another distraction for tomorrow's game in the back of the players' minds.
Just win please, no effing wonder strikes from 30 yards out and no lucky deflections from Swansea, and let's hope the officials remember their glasses.
52 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:36:27
I wonder which half we play well in tomorrow and which one will be dire?
53 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:36:30
It's all about the semi v Man City now. Hopefully we'll do well in the FA Cup.
Unless there's a miracle, don't get your hopes up for the league. Not this season anyway.
54 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:41:46
55 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:52:27
56 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:56:07
It hasn't 'yet' been a good season but it's certainly pretty far from being the worst season we've ever had.
57 Posted 23/01/2016 at 19:58:58
58 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:02:28
59 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:08:42
60 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:26:30
After last week's result and the very poor defending, you would hope they would go all out to make amends. Will they? Don't bank on it.
61 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:29:43
62 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:32:04
63 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:40:05
64 Posted 23/01/2016 at 20:42:03
65 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:07:56
Thanks for the calendar update. I will adjust mine accordingly. However, in this new century did they change the way goals are scored? If not, then I. Will take a Shawcross or Distin over Stones in this league.
66 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:36:06
I'm with you there Peter.
67 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:42:48
Could one of the keepers be on their way out or maybe just injured?
68 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:43:20
69 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:47:00
70 Posted 23/01/2016 at 21:53:54
You just never know with Everton and this manager and the way he runs them, we'll see, I'm hoping for a win same as yourself.
71 Posted 23/01/2016 at 22:04:15
72 Posted 23/01/2016 at 22:10:56
If fans or Martinez want entertainment go to one of Mr kenwright's shows. I want wins and don't care how they come!!
75 Posted 23/01/2016 at 22:50:37
Besic to score.
76 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:09:28
Your theory of making a couple of extra places up the league at the expense of the value of a player like Stones also raises another question: What if the difference in those two hypothetical places is 9th to 7th, or 8th to 6th or so on. It may not seem like it, but 7th is a hell of a lot better than 9th, and players of Lukaku's ilk may see 7th as encouraging enough to stick it out one more season.
77 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:17:42
78 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:29:16
79 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:47:35
80 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:53:46
81 Posted 23/01/2016 at 23:58:38
82 Posted 24/01/2016 at 00:03:38
83 Posted 24/01/2016 at 00:09:49
84 Posted 24/01/2016 at 00:16:30
86 Posted 24/01/2016 at 00:28:46
88 Posted 24/01/2016 at 02:08:22
It's what he's famous for folks, together with an "engaging" attitude to all things "media".
89 Posted 24/01/2016 at 03:21:21
90 Posted 24/01/2016 at 03:29:31
This gives confidence to the defenders and then they have Huth a big old fashioned yard dog that can play a bit. They also have a lot of pace in the team up front and do play on the break and have a long ball game as well.
They are direct with no pissing around holding on to the ball when they lose it they go and win it back pressing in numbers. Vardy is very much like Ian Rush and they play to his strengths.
Now this is all down to a top coach getting his team to play a certain way and you can see the confidence in their play. We have RM sadly not in the same league as Ranieri.
92 Posted 24/01/2016 at 06:36:02
93 Posted 24/01/2016 at 07:14:58
94 Posted 24/01/2016 at 07:39:58
95 Posted 24/01/2016 at 07:43:38
96 Posted 24/01/2016 at 08:15:14
3-0... move on to the big game Wednesday.
97 Posted 24/01/2016 at 09:05:07
I believe that RM is a well known quantity now. I don't rate him at all but he's going nowhere.
98 Posted 24/01/2016 at 09:34:29
99 Posted 24/01/2016 at 09:37:25
This season, the results for us and the whole league are not what most expected; you can plan but who says it will work? If we leave some out today for rest or value and still lose on Wednesday, then we will all be up in arms, again!
The saying is "one game at a time" and that game is Swansea today; play the best team we can, that's fair on the paying supporters, and hopefully will give us a win to boost confidence for all up-and-coming games.
Lose and the end of the world is near, or it will just feel like it. No team in this league is a cert for us to win against, so you have to play the strongest team you can; that surely is going to give us the best chance of moving in the right direction.
100 Posted 24/01/2016 at 09:49:14
On today's game, a win is a must. I am really getting sick of all of the excuses for our poor game-management. Also, the talk on here about Europa League etc reminds me how, last season, it was used again and again as the reason for our poor league form. There is no such excuse this term, and to see Spurs riding high despite their involvement proves that it is a lame excuse anyway.
We are playing the Swans at the wrong time, as they have had a good result under their belt and today their new boss takes the reins for the first time. They will be determined to put on a show, so we will have to play well to get the points.
Luckily their attack isn't the most mobile, so our statuesque centre-back should have an easier game than he can expect at Man City against a rejuvenated Aguero.
101 Posted 24/01/2016 at 10:10:09
102 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:04:12
103 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:34:00
Mirallas must start today, he was class last week and also worked his backside off to win the ball back and close down has the penny finally dropped?
3-1 to the blues today, will be watching from behind the sofa though!
104 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:36:01
105 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:49:38
I have no doubt if we had Pochettino instead of RM we would be inside the top 4 this season. I believe our squad is better than Spurs, yet we are massively under achieving. I see some of the press are starting to question why with such a talented squad we are in the bottom half . Even Merson was saying yesterday that with our defenders he couldn't understand why we are conceding so many goals.
Maybe people are now seeing past RM's media spin, and as one of the press commented last week you cant keep saying how wonderful each player when the results are not backing up those claims. So you can only draw one conclusion either the manager is over hyping his players or he is lacking in the managerial department.
106 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:54:00
To other posters Everton FC cannot buy every player on the market, indeed, we struggle to add people to the squad in January on most occasions. Ross Barkley is Ross Barkley, he's not Aaron Ramsey, Alli or any other likely lad, he's plain old Ross Barkley.
I wanted Eamonn O'Keefe to be more like Bryan Robson but unfortunately he proved incapable of reaching such standards as a player. When Eamonn played for Everton he received brick brats on the odd occasion but the team more often than not got the support of the crowd, such as during the cup run in 1981 and particularly against Southampton at Goodison. Perhaps as supporters we were too easily pleased during that period, but it was certainly a lot more fun than it has become these days.
107 Posted 24/01/2016 at 11:54:54
108 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:07:32
Ali is a better player than Barkley. He's got more focus, purpose and a proper eye for goal, nothing to do with Martinez or Pochettino, who to me is a better version of Moyes with a much bigger budget.
We'll probably play well today, take the lead and find a way of not winning. So I'll carry on with my standard bet of a draw, hoping that one day it will be a losing bet ....
109 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:35:36
110 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:41:04
111 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:46:49
112 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:52:36
You carry on in your own fashion, I won't be arguing the pros and cons of Kenwright and the board it's all been done to infinity, I'm getting off here.
When you talk about football I'll listen all day, even if I disagree with some of your views.
113 Posted 24/01/2016 at 12:52:53
Are Jags and Coleman been kept for Wednesday or is Mori first choice at this stage?
In the race for 5th the 3 points are vital, in the race for 4th they are irrelevant!
114 Posted 24/01/2016 at 13:20:46
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