After another seemingly interminable international break, Everton are back in Premier League action this Sunday with another away day, this time at Loftus Road where they will face the bottom club, Queens Park Rangers, hoping to deepen the gloom for manager Mark Hughes.
The Blues will no doubt still be harbouring a degree of frustration from yet more refereeing injustice at the DW Stadium a fortnight ago, the 2-2 against Wigan draw dropping them back to fourth in the table. (Indeed, if David Moyes is playing the "what if" game in his mind, the four points robbed from him by refereeing incompetence would have his side comfortably second at this stage of the campaign.)
The manager's quest to improve on last season's 1-1 draw in this fixture has been complicated somewhat by injury to Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian apparently tweaked his knee against Wigan and, in addition to missing both of his country's World Cup Qualifiers in the last eight days, he will be absent for Everton for this weekend at least.
With Darron Gibson also unavailable as he continues what has become an annoyingly long recovery from a thigh injury sustained at the beginning of September and Thomas Hitzlsperger not considered ready, it means that Moyes's midfield options are limited to continuing with the erratic pairing of Phil Neville and Leon Osman.
Tony Hibbert is also out injured so Seamus Coleman will continue at right back so, with the exception of whom to deploy behind Nikica Jelavic and the expectation that Sylvain Distin will replace John Heitinga in defence, it should be more or less "as you were" as far as the starting XI goes.
Victor Anichebe is an option to come back into the side after filling in for Jelavic during the Croatian's brief spell on the sidelines and Moyes has also hinted at pushing Kevin Mirallas forward as well, creating an opportunity perhaps for Steven Naismith to start on the right flank.
Rangers have spent a fortune compared to Everton on trying to buy their way to more than just another season of top flight salvation but they have made a miserable start to this their second campaign since returning to the Premier League for the first time in 17 years.
Another defeat this weekend would represent their worst start to a top-flight season since the 1995-96 campaign that saw them go down so there will be pressure on Hughes to get a result.
He has Samba Diakite available again following suspension and all three of Jose Bosingwa, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore will be in contention following injury.
Chief among Moyes's priorities as he looks to keep on the coat tails of top three will be to shore up defence where sloppy goals in recent weeks have meant that poor officiating has cost them vital points when the Blues might still have scored enough at the other end to earn victories against Newcastle and Wigan despite the men in black.
Distin's likely return to partner Phil Jagielka will be one move to that end but improvement is needed from the likes of Tim Howard and Coleman as well.
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389 Posted 21/10/2012 at 08:55:47
394 Posted 21/10/2012 at 09:52:44
397 Posted 21/10/2012 at 10:01:40
399 Posted 21/10/2012 at 10:06:55
400 Posted 21/10/2012 at 10:12:28
401 Posted 21/10/2012 at 10:09:31
411 Posted 21/10/2012 at 11:13:05
It would just be typical of us to lose to a team who have yet to win this season.
Hope I'm wrong.COYB.
433 Posted 21/10/2012 at 13:18:14
436 Posted 21/10/2012 at 13:27:30
442 Posted 21/10/2012 at 13:49:20
444 Posted 21/10/2012 at 13:49:36
There is a reason there's no expression 'fortune favours the shit-house'.
447 Posted 21/10/2012 at 13:59:27
I was looking at an article earlier about today's game and Hughes being in trouble if we win and heard him again 'if someone desperately needs a goal, or a team is desperate for a win, you can guarantee they'll get it against us'.
Whenever I'm optimistic with regards to Everton now, I still hear my dad trying to stop me getting my hopes us.
453 Posted 21/10/2012 at 14:17:09
It's a game we should win. I despise Hughes and I'd love this to be the game that sees him sacked. A 4-0 spanking should do the trick.
Should be an interesting one for us. I can't predict how we're going to line up. Big Vic to partner Jelavić?
525 Posted 21/10/2012 at 19:29:47
We beat WBA and Swansea away last year, and Newcastle at home, and drew with Wigan and QPR away. This season we beat Swansea away but lost away to WBA, drew with Newcastle at home and achieved draws away to QPR and Wigan just like last year.
We have scored more goals in those fixtures but we have also conceded more. So are we really improving? You could argue that the ref hasn't been kind to us, but is that really masking the fact that we aren't as good as we thought we were?
I just hope we can put this performance behind us and play a blinder against the RS. Much will hinge on that performance. God forbid if we lose they will only be 3 points behind us!
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