Kevin Mirallas: back in the squad after missing three games with a tendon injury
Everton hope to build on the midweek win over Newcastle when they travel to Stoke City tomorrow.
Having endured a torrid run of form in front of their own fans, the Blues managed an unusually comfortable victory on Wednesday that can hopefully provide a springboard for the final quarter of the Premier Leage campaign.
The 3-0 score line was a fair reflection of Everton's attacking dominance and the chances they should have taken from open play; 1-0 would have been emblematic of what was a bit of a grind at times from Martinez's players as they spurned some good chances in their search for a first home win in the League since November.
Goodison Park probably could have done without the nerves that crept in as the second half wore on but a margin of victory that slender would have been greeted with plenty of relief and sufficient optimism for the next few games.
The most important thing was to win and, thanks to Aaron Lennon's persistence and both Ross Barkley's infectious direct running and his composure from the spot, the Toffees were able to drive home their superiority in the closing minutes.
It sets them up nicely for a mission of revenge and atonement against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium this weekend. If Everton's win at St James's Park hinted at Martinez's men getting back on track after a month of frustration following the events at Bournemouth in late November, the defeat to the Potters two days later at Goodison was a shot to the solar plexus.
Another blown lead and a controversial stoppage time penalty handed Stoke a 4-3 win and felt like being dumped back down to earth, with recriminations for the defence and manager from supporters.
In retrospect, the Blues made Stoke, and Xherdan Shaqiri in particular, look like world-beaters that day. Mark Hughes's side have won just once since and have looked decidedly ordinary; Shaqiri, over whom many a tantrum was thrown on social media when the Swiss "chose" the Britannia over Goodison -- in reality, Martinez and Everton were adamant they would only take him on loan where they could assess his suitability rather than splash £12m on him, a decision that looks prudent in hindsight -- hadn't scored before that game and hasn't scored since.
Encouragingly, while the Britannia is generally regarded as a tough place to go, Stoke have only won more home game than Everton this season and they've lost four of their 11 matches on their own turf. That offers hope for a Blues team that has only lost once on the road in the League this term and is looking to improve on a record of just three away wins.
Optimistic about Romelu Lukaku's chances of being fit, Martinez will have the same squad to choose from as he did on Wednesday against the Magpies plus the fit-again Kevin Mirallss and, possibly, new signing Oumar Niasse.
The Senegal striker is awaiting international clearance to make his debut following his £13m move from Lokomotiv Moscow and he would certainly be a handy and unknown quantity to
bring off the bench, particularly if Lukaku isn't up to 90 minutes.
Martinez said in his press conference this morning that, "this morning was important in terms of getting the final step of that paperwork and we're hopeful that he will be able to be available."
The decision over the availability of Lukaku will likely be made tomorrow, although the manager hinted in his "presser" that the striker could play through any lingering pain from the blow he took to his back in midweek.
He came off at half time in the 3-0 victory with the Magpies after taking a knee to the back from Fabricio Collocini but Martinez said he was moving more freely and "looked back to himself."
The Catalan continued: "After the game he found it very difficult to be able to walk without pain. It was a really difficult injury because all of a sudden he couldn't really feel the backs of his legs and we were a little bit worried.
"But there's no further damage and it was then about making sure he could get the feeling back and join in training today. We'll make an assessment depending on how good he is feeling today in training."
Martinez will still be without Muhamed Besic, John Stones and Tim Howard, however. All three are ruled out with, with the former two recovering from hamstring strains and Howard dealing with a knee problem apparently sustained in training in the early part of the week.
That means another opportunity for Joel Robles to impress between the posts. The Spaniard has been solid when handed opportunities to play in the cup competitions this season and, after Wednesday's win over Newcastle, he has four clean sheets in his last four Premier League appearances stretching back to this time last year.
Leighton Baines could return at left back after, presumably, being rested in midweek while Aaron Lennon's form makes him an almost automatic choice to start wide on the right, with Gerard Deulofeu a potential weapon from the bench in the second half.
This fixture last year marked arguably the nadir of the 2014-15 season but it has the potential to be the next stepping stone in an Everton revival this time around if the team can build on two routine victories and two clean sheets over the past 6 days.
With Ryan Shawcross missing for the Potters, there should, hopefully, be weaknesses to exploit in their back line while at the other end it's imperative that the threats posed by Marko Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic are nullified.
Kick off: 3pm
Referee: Andre Marriner
Predicted lineup: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku
Reader Comments (55)
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1 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:06:10
That's if Rom isn't fit, duuh.
3 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:08:58
4 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:25:34
5 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:28:36
I just wish he'd score a goal once in awhile.
6 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:44:01
He'll be in his Third season with us in a couple of months but how many minutes does he have on the pitch to show for it? I hope after this recovery, that he isn't injured for a long long time (if at all).
Back to Mirallas - he's another one that I want to see succeed & score goals. He has it in him. Hoping to see him for the rest of the season, and hopefully the next one as well.
Both these players risk losing their respective spots for good if they are out for more than a couple of weeks because of the increased competition in those positions.
7 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:47:36
8 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:47:45
9 Posted 05/02/2016 at 16:56:14
10 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:03:07
Good news about Mirallas though :)
11 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:10:46
12 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:21:13
have a phobia about shooting.
13 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:25:42
I would imagine that if Lukaku is fit it will be the same team as Wednesday night. Then if he gets the paperwork through we will have Naisse, Deulofeu and Mirallas to come off the bench if necessary.
14 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:29:33
15 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:40:10
If he can create space.for Ross and Mirallas and soften them up for a late 20 minute assault from the new guy, that'll be good enough for.me.
16 Posted 05/02/2016 at 17:44:18
18 Posted 05/02/2016 at 18:44:24
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Galloway;
Lennon, Cleverley, Baines, Oviedo;
4-4-1-1 should get the win,1-0 Blues!
19 Posted 05/02/2016 at 18:52:11
20 Posted 05/02/2016 at 18:58:43
As for all this delight over Kone's 'hold-up play' and space creation well, who expects strikers to score regularly? Quite how his inclusion at the expense of variously Mirallas, Deulofeu, Lennon and even Naismith is justified astounds me !
21 Posted 05/02/2016 at 19:29:23
On the subject of tomorrow, let us hope that with all our talent, we can make Stoke look ordinary, which is what they did to us at Goodison. If every member of the team puts in a shift like Lennon, we will do it, but it won't be as easy as beating a very poor Newcastle.
On the subject of RM I loved him during the first season, although I had doubts about his pedigree following relegation.
Since then, his tenure has been disastrous. But, if his project does come together, I will be delighted because I ,like most football fans, am fickle. And I want Everton to be great again.
I want a big win tomorrow, and RM to pick in-form players, not favourites!
23 Posted 05/02/2016 at 19:34:23
24 Posted 05/02/2016 at 19:45:32
Remember though that Mark Hughes was superb but he wasn't a goal scorer and Kone's value is that while his few goals may look bad for a striker, Lukaku's 20 since Kone got into the team has been incredible. His best position is supporting the main striker from slightly deeper, not out wide where RM plays him. He's a lovely happy guy too and don't forget that we almost certainly missed the best of him because of injury.
Ged may also be right, we're on the verge of being a very good side and it just could happen.
25 Posted 05/02/2016 at 19:57:11
As far as positivity is concerned, I've read the last two results right and made a decent profit in so doing. It's amusing that over a week ago over two hundred posters wanted the manager hung, drawn and quartered but now there seems to be acknowledgement that he's good enough to get us 'eighthish, after all!
As far as the team tomorrow is concerned, don't be surprised if Lennon's recent goals spate doesn't see him back to the bench. It's happened before!
26 Posted 05/02/2016 at 20:06:02
27 Posted 05/02/2016 at 20:14:25
Granted the guy doesn't get to spend much time as an out and out striker in our team, but you only have to watch him to know that he's never ever going to be 15-20 goal a season type of player. If he weighed in with 10-12 goals plus a good few assists then I think we would all accept it, but I'm struggling to think about exactly what he brings to the table cos it ain't enough in my opinion.
28 Posted 05/02/2016 at 20:39:45
29 Posted 05/02/2016 at 20:40:06
Come on folks, Kone is supposed to score goals, and unless he is getting lots and lots of assists, or being hauled down in the box, and gaining pens, then his place in the team should be judged on that old nugget, goal scoring.
He is, I am sure, a lovely human being, and (as a pro footballer) has a decent pass at his disposal, and boy, can he lay it off! However these are things that a player should be able to do without thinking about it. He couldn't play at centre-half, he couldn't play centre-mid, and he shouldn't play on the wing ahead of actual wingers like Mirallas, Lennon or Deulofeu.
If he can't get his arse in the box and bang in shots as soon as a chance presents itself, then he should not be playing up front.
If Rom ain't fit, sling Mirallas up top, or Barkley, or Rodriguez, just someone who will look like scoring.
30 Posted 05/02/2016 at 20:58:09
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Oviedo;
Lennon, McCarthy, Barry, Cleverley;
Deulofeu could come on for Lennon and Mirallas for Cleverley last 30 mins depending on the state of play.
Niasse for Lukaku if clearance comes through.
31 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:04:58
32 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:15:18
33 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:25:29
Maybe this weekend he'll get to play up top if Lukaku is out, with 2 from Mirallas/Lennon/Deulofeu supporting, and Niasse a potential late sub if required.
I've play Kone up front Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the guy can finish given the right service.
34 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:37:52
Don't think you are wrong in your viewpoint, I could understand the change in the voting for Martinez if we had beaten two decent teams; the two teams we beat especially Carlisle was something that would've been expected and Newcastle were chronic.
We need to carry on and beat the better teams starting at Stoke tomorrow before we can be really confident that we are moving forward.
35 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:42:19
36 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:53:05
I fancy us tomorrow though I agree with Andy Crooks (28). I'd play Galloway at left back.
37 Posted 05/02/2016 at 21:54:09
The result tomorrow will go a long way in suggesting which it is.
Irrespective of that I am totally with Andy Crooks.
RM has to go.
38 Posted 05/02/2016 at 22:12:51
39 Posted 05/02/2016 at 22:27:27
Regardless of who plays up front, the defence still needs sorting .. that is the biggest problem and the reason we have not won many games this season.
Martinez seems to be making more reasoned choices recently, it will be interesting if he maintains this run ... or reverts to type.
40 Posted 05/02/2016 at 22:28:44
41 Posted 05/02/2016 at 22:29:55
42 Posted 05/02/2016 at 23:35:55
43 Posted 05/02/2016 at 23:40:21
Think RM will go this way ..
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines;
Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas;
44 Posted 05/02/2016 at 23:51:26
46 Posted 06/02/2016 at 01:40:00
47 Posted 06/02/2016 at 04:33:26
If Lukaku doesn't start I would prefer Kone to Mirallas against Stoke.
Who knows what to expect for this one. Three years ago I would have settled for a point at Stoke. Now despite my misgivings about the manager I am hoping for a win. This is certainly a roller coaster season.
I think the 3 points against Newcastle dispelled any looming worries about the "R" word so perhaps the anxiety levels on and off the pitch will drop and we will start seeing the best from our players. I hope so - it's the hope that keeps you alive!
Up the Blues.
48 Posted 06/02/2016 at 05:14:16
Kone for all his faults is the best fit for the job if Rom has to drop out. I would start with him and if we are behind with 15 mins throw on Niasse and go 4-4-2.
Mirallas has no space in starting XI at this point for me. Lennon deserves to keep his place on the right side, Barks in the centre. On the left, Cleverly an inferior player but away against Stoke we need his work rate as Johnson plays like a winger when they are at home. Plus if Shaqiri plays he will try and exploit our left side the last time.
So its Kone for Rom, otherwise unchanged for me...
49 Posted 06/02/2016 at 05:53:35
I reckon it's confidence and the crowd has been on his back when they should be looking at his contribution. Perhaps a few easy tap-ins and a header or two will restore some confidence. Is Vardy that good?
50 Posted 06/02/2016 at 09:21:57
The team against Newcastle was probably our best balanced all season. Cleverley and McCarthy either side of Barry. No holes, no exposed fullbacks. Okay, it left us a bit short up front where Lukaku took a hammering but once we got that important first goal they had to open up and we enjoyed the extra space.
51 Posted 06/02/2016 at 09:41:52
52 Posted 06/02/2016 at 10:39:52
53 Posted 06/02/2016 at 11:16:13
54 Posted 06/02/2016 at 11:46:04
Barca have done it, Chelsea have done it and the rs have done it and got results, I've been really impressed with Lennon's attitude, work rate, first touch and eye for goal lately also the fact that him and Delboy are quick and nimble could make the perfect recipe to run at the giant clumsy Stoke back four and draw fouls and create chances!
We owe these big style for that late pen and for them being so abysmal and letting the rs get to a final!
55 Posted 06/02/2016 at 12:09:27
Worst idea ever.
56 Posted 06/02/2016 at 12:14:24
57 Posted 06/02/2016 at 12:16:26
58 Posted 06/02/2016 at 13:27:04
I'm not so keen on Cleverley being out on the left but he will put a shift in and work back, as will Lennon, although he gives us pace on the break. But we are going to have to graft today to keep their attacking players as quiet as we possibly can and not let them take control of the game.
Hopefully Lukaku will be fit to start and Niasse will be available to take a place on the bench.
Stoke are struggling a bit at CB at the moment with both Shawcross & Wilson out and there being a doubt Wollschied and his fitness today so IF those 3 are out, we could have some joy if we get at them and try being a bit more direct than usual into Rom?!
59 Posted 06/02/2016 at 13:58:13
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