Everton vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Friday, 9 March, 2018 0comments  |  Jump to last
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Phil Jagielka is expected to return to the starting XI after recovering from injury

Everton return to Goodison Park following two disappointing away games for a clash with Brighton that has taken on much importance than it otherwise might.

The Blues' run of poor form, just two wins in the last 11 in the Premier League, combined with the Seagulls' own improved results, means that they will begin the weekend sitting below Brighton in the table and just seven points above the relegation zone.

That has heaped more pressure on Sam Allardyce to oversee a third successive home victory that would significantly ease fears that Everton could dragged into the scrap to beat the drop this season.

Though he will be missing a first-choice centre half in the form of the suspended Ashley Williams, the manager has been boosted by the return to fitness of Phil Jagielka, Ramiro Funes Mori and Leighton Baines, all of whom are now available.

“Our injury list is not too bad at all,” Allardyce said in his pre-match press conference. “Obviously, we've got a couple of long-termers in Mangala and McCarthy but the rest of the players are okay.

“There [is a decision to be made at centre half]. We've got Funes back as well after two or three Under-23 games [so] we've got a number of centre-halves we can choose from as a replacement for Ash.”

Baines's presence at left back and Jagielka's experience in the middle have been missed in recent weeks and it would not be a surprise to see both drafted back into the starting XI but whether Allardyce would be tempted to drop Michael Keane and replace him with Funes Mori remains to be seen.

Up front, Cenk Tosun's goalscoring return to the side last weekend will surely have earned him a place and Dominic Calvert-Lewin could also keep his spot if Allardyce opts to keep the same attacking unit as that which faced Burnley and bring Wayne Rooney in at the expense of Tom Davies.

The manager will be treating Chris Hughton's Brighton with plenty of respect if the comments in his presser and then to the print media afterwards are any indication. He is all too aware of the costs to him personally if Everton don't win this important home game given how poor they have been on their travels and that the next two visitors to Goodison are Manchester City and Liverpool.

“I can't continue to lose football matches. It is as simple as that,” Allardyce said. “There is no point beating about the bush and saying you can have as much backing as you want. There is great backing from the owners but I have to win matches to reassure them that I am the right man for the job.

“Brighton are picking up points home and away so it'll be a hugely difficult game for us and it's not one we can underestimate at all,”

“We all aware of the disappointment [in our form] away from home but we have to look at the home results and say that's where our bread and butter lies. That's where we've been good.

“We've won the last two home games and I think we've only conceded two goals that were penalties so we've played well at home but our away form is the big problem we have.

“We have to put that behind us, make sure there's no legacy from the disappointment of the last two games and be in top form on Saturday because we need to get a win.

“We have a put a bit of pressure on ourselves because of the last two away results and we have to cope with the pressure and deliver for the fans who are very, very important to us, home and away.”

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 10 March, 2018
Referee: Roger East
Last Time: Everton 2 - 2 Brighton & Hove Albion (October 1982)

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin, Walcott, Tosun

Full details: ToffeeWeb match page

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