Oumar Niasse will be hoping to make his first appearance after training all week
With their eyes trained upward again thanks to an uptick in form over the past couple of weeks, Everton go in search of what would be a fourth consecutive victory when West Bromwich Albion make the trip north.
Since the disillusionment and frustration that welled up after the Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, optimism that something can be salvaged from the season has crept in on the back of the subsequent three matches. Roberto Martinez’s team won back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season and progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Not only is there hope that the Blues can grab a second chance at booking a place at Wembley but, having moved into the top half of the table following last weekend’s romp at Stoke City, the possibility of finishing in one of the European places doesn’t seem so distant after all.
Everton have the chance to further those claims and complete a second league double this weekend when West Bromwich Albion come to Goodison Park. The Blues earned a thrilling come-from-behind victory at The Hawthorns back in the reverse fixture and another victory would give Martinez’s men a chance of closing the gap on the teams above them, depending on how results go elsewhere.
The Baggies may only have won three times away from home all season — albeit two of them coming against sides currently sitting in the bottom three and the last was in October — but, as a Tony Pulis outfit, they always have the propensity to frustrate sides that like to come out and attack.
That kind of opposition has posed problems for Everton over the past couple of seasons, as evidenced a little over a year ago when West Brom came to Goodison and ground out a 0-0 draw against the Toffees in a game made infamous by Kevin Mirallas’s penalty miss.
Fittingly, the Belgian international should be fit to play a part in this one and make amends if he is selected. He made a late cameo at the Britannia Stadium last Saturday after recovering from a knee tendon problem and should be in the squad again this time.
He is unlikely to get a start if Martinez prolongs his recent nod towards continuity and his players’ form. Aaron Lennon, magnificent in all of Everton’s three consecutive 3-0 wins over the past fortnight, has grabbed his opportunity with both hands since the debacle at the Etihad and has been keeping Gerard Deulofeu on the bench. Should that continue this weekend, Pulis might breathe a sigh of relief because it was the Spaniard who was the architect of that 3-2 Everton win over West Brom in September but Lennon has been in sparkling form and showed at Stoke in particular how dangerous he can be.
Leighton Baines, meanwhile, could be in the same boat given the recent form and fitness of Bryan Oviedo who has been rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract. Baines sat out the cup tie at Carlisle at the end of last month and might be forced to watch on again against West Brom from the dugout.
Another player likely to start on the bench is new signing Oumar Niasse who missed out last week due to a lack of fitness but who could be in line for a debut as a substitute this time around if the conditions merit it. The 25-year-old has been showing his new teammates what he can do in training this week and Romelu Lukaku, his potential strike partner, has been impressed with the Senegalese’s power, even if he remains a little raw.
Slight doubts over the fitness of Tim Howard and John Stones mean that Martinez could quite easily named another unchanged line-up, with Joel Robles keeping his place in goal after recording his third clean sheet on the bounce and Ramiro Funes Mori continuing his impressive partnership with Phil Jagielka.
With Everton in fine goalscoring form this season — they’ve only been shut out twice in the 24 games in all competitions since they last played West Brom — finding the net should not be a problem, even given the fact that they’ll be going up against a Pulis defence. Indeed, it’s a visiting team that could find the going hard so soon after being forced to play extra time at Peterborough in the FA Cup on Wednesday.
The key, therefore, will be keeping things tight and organised at the back, particularly when defending set-pieces. The Baggies almost pulled off a smash-and-grab raid from set-pieces on their last visit to Merseyside but were denied a 2-1 victory at Anfield by a 96th-minute Liverpool equaliser. Things have looked and felt safer at the back since Robles came into the side but he and his defenders could be tested more sternly this weekend if the Midlanders are up for it.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Predicted line-up: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Oviedo, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (47)
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1 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:10:44
2 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:13:24
3 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:18:18
4 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:21:03
If RM doesent tinker with the team then this will be an easy win for me on current form. Keep that bloody winning mentality and no changes please, RM.
5 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:26:26
Perhaps a tad optimistic to hope for yet another clean sheet but at last our boys do seem to understand the value of it. Rom will do the rest.
6 Posted 13/02/2016 at 00:30:00
7 Posted 13/02/2016 at 01:08:15
I'm going for 4-0 with Lukaku to find his shooting boots again.
Actually, I've been searching for odds on Leicester being relegated next season (with no luck).
8 Posted 13/02/2016 at 01:35:16
WBA were very poor mid week in the Cup and will park 2 buses. The team (and crowd) will need to be patient and disciplined. If we can get ahead we could smack them. If we don't then it could be like Swansea again.
9 Posted 13/02/2016 at 01:51:48
For me it has to be no change in the starting line up. Joel Robles, Phil Jagielka and Funes Mori are the reason for three clean sheets, Howard has given us years of service and deserves respect and a good send-off but his time unfortunately as our No1 is up.
Stones is a luxury that at this time in our progress we can't afford to keep, he can't develop as a true defender (Moyes style) under Martinez. And Martinez doesn't seem to want to control his play, and (in my opinion) he would make an excellent holding ball playing midfielder (but unfortunately our manager will never see this),
Lennon in the last 4 games has been brilliant the same as he was this time last year, Deulofeu is class but doesn't help out and goes missing in games. If we could make a point off Lennon tiring teams out and then Deulofeu coming on for the last 20 minutes to cause havoc then we would shoot up the table.
10 Posted 13/02/2016 at 02:40:57
If we get a early goal we should win, on the other hand the longer it takes to break them down the less chance we have.
My only prediction is no matter what the result there will be polar opinions on here. That's what I love
11 Posted 13/02/2016 at 03:44:59
Almost an embarrassment of riches!
12 Posted 13/02/2016 at 05:11:04
13 Posted 13/02/2016 at 05:34:28
Your points are valid. But Stones isn't a luxury (I get your point about now; that's why he's been "rested"). John is a gem a will be an outstanding centre back when he hits late 20's. He's a centre back / defender not a midfielder, he's just a young defender learning his trade with mistakes in him at this point in time.
The lad will come good.
You and a lot of other posters are right; don't change a winning team. But this is Bobby brown shoes!
14 Posted 13/02/2016 at 06:07:10
Tend to agree re Stones. As Souness pointed out recently, the lad doesn't yet sense danger and get himself across to cover his fullback. As a matter of fact, Jags is also slow to get across, whereas Funes Mori will race to block both sides.
As for Stones in the holding role? We know big aggressive grock Erik Dier (thanks Eugene) does a fine job for Spurs but he is well supported by other big grocks. Barry, like Lucas across the park, uses experience and anticipation and doesn't go wandering off. Also, £38mil was offered for centre back Stones so we are not about to tinker with his position. The lad is poetry in motion but, according to Jags, will need another 50-100 games to understand the role and reach his full potential.
Like you, I would go for an unchanged line-up against the Baggies. They'll bring in four or five fresh pairs of legs and provide pretty stern opposition. Despite the clean sheets, teams did get good chances but failed to take them. Pleased to see Phil has gone for 2-0. I hope his winning streak continues.
15 Posted 13/02/2016 at 06:37:26
For this game, keep the same team, keep the same style/tactics until it is figured out then tweak it. I want to see more substitutions this game, Del and Mirallas need to see more game time even if they are not starting.
16 Posted 13/02/2016 at 07:11:12
My prediction before the Leicester game was a win, so sticking with that. So far we are 3 points my prediction of a 65 points finish, which should leave us top 6. An ok season but clearly Leicester have exposed that any team could win it, which leaves most supports feeling disappointed/let down with a 5/6th finish.
Biggest problem too many draws, CP, Cheslsea, Norwich, Bournmouth are all games we should have won. Feel the Stoke game which we should have drawn evens itself out with the Man City one which we should have lost.
17 Posted 13/02/2016 at 07:36:52
I think you will get your win. It wouldn't even surprise me if it was 3 - 0 again.
19 Posted 13/02/2016 at 07:57:56
20 Posted 13/02/2016 at 08:08:00
Nah, think we will win 2-0 and Pulis will be sacked tonight.
21 Posted 13/02/2016 at 08:29:05
22 Posted 13/02/2016 at 08:34:00
23 Posted 13/02/2016 at 08:40:33
With Howard, Baines, Stones and Niasse to boost the bench alongside Deloufeu and Mirallas we'd have plenty of defensive and attacking options to bring on and we can give Kone a chance to get used to weekend's off.
25 Posted 13/02/2016 at 09:06:11
26 Posted 13/02/2016 at 09:45:29
27 Posted 13/02/2016 at 09:48:57
Nah, nothing points toward a banana skin here..........
29 Posted 13/02/2016 at 09:52:24
30 Posted 13/02/2016 at 09:57:20
32 Posted 13/02/2016 at 10:20:43
Comfortable 2/3 0 win. West Brom are rubbish
33 Posted 13/02/2016 at 10:23:11
Score early and that will force them to throw more men forward and that will play into our hands.
34 Posted 13/02/2016 at 10:32:08
Welcome, once you start you may find it hard to stop.
I agree with Harold that it's about shape as well as the actual defenders and keeper employed.
For what it's worth however this season's stats for our three centre halves this season show
Goals per game conceded
Jags 1.1 14 games
Fumes Mori 1.3. 16 games
Stones. 1.5. 20 games
37 Posted 13/02/2016 at 11:35:35
38 Posted 13/02/2016 at 11:47:57
39 Posted 13/02/2016 at 11:59:19
40 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:00:21
41 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:03:34
42 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:11:42
I am hoping for plenty in the 2nd half to get the St end bouncing!
43 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:27:22
Actually, with Osman, Pienaar, Cleverley, Besic, Mirallis and the Grasshopper lad, we're pretty well covered on that side of the pitch and I can't imagine him playing on the right.
44 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:27:57
As for the Lahm role for Baines in midfield??
Why would you change what's been a winning team lately?.
Baines is a left back and only a left back, he and Oviedo will challenge for that one berth, you can't just mess up the team with square pegs in round holes to accommodate certain player's.
45 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:32:58
You don't need poetry in motion in defence to keep clean sheets, Stones didn't play at Stoke, did we not play some classy football there?.
I'll leave the poetry in motion to a silky creative midfielder thanks.
46 Posted 13/02/2016 at 12:50:22
47 Posted 13/02/2016 at 13:01:50
48 Posted 13/02/2016 at 13:23:03
1) Take the lead
2) create loads of chances but fail to convert them
3) relax and think we're too good to lose...
4) find ourselves level then a goal down in short order
5) just about get back to all square
6) Have a frantic last 5 minutes of normal time hammering away for a winner
7) Almost concede a last minute goal on the counter, the players get really nervous, the opposition smell blood.
8) spend the last two minutes of injury time just praying for the final whistle and a point.
Hopefully instead it's another step on the road to redemption. We have the talent, just need the brains.
49 Posted 13/02/2016 at 13:46:24
50 Posted 13/02/2016 at 13:53:42
If you were the manager of Barcelona and Messi had been out injured and you kept winning without him then you could understand changing the team but we are talking about possibly bringing a goalkeeper back into the team who is not as good as the current number one has been.
Hopefully we get to see a glimpse of the new lad today as well. I'm surprised that given he had his paperwork for last Saturday's game that he didn't play a small part coming off the bench. I know that he hasn't played for a while but three-nil up at half time and cruising would have been an ideal opportunity to give his rusty legs a few minutes. You don't get match fit by not being involved in a match.
51 Posted 13/02/2016 at 14:04:02
52 Posted 13/02/2016 at 14:10:16
53 Posted 13/02/2016 at 14:11:08
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