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With two games in four days, Morgan Schneiderlin is a good bet to start either at Stoke or against Bournemouth on Saturday
With the distraction of the transfer window out the way, a leaner Everton squad prepares for a midweek trip to Stoke City looking to register a fourth successive win in the Premier League.
Ronald Koeman steered the Blues to the same feat back in August, a run of results that took them second in the table behind early pace-setters Manchester City; this time, the Dutchman is hoping for three more points to keep up the pressure on the teams sitting above Everton in the top six.
The transfer deadline may have closed without the addition of the one or two high-quality names that supporters were hoping would bolster the quest to finish in the European qualification places — seventh place might be enough if current top six teams win the domestic cups — but results in the league so far in 2017 have suggested that Koeman now has a settled system and a group of players he trusts.
A repeat of the performance that earned a deserved win at Crystal Palace 10 days ago would go further to strengthening that belief and raise optimism that, in contrast to Everton's stumbles through their previous stretch of supposedly “winnable” games earlier in the season, the Blues will capitalise on the current sequence of comparatively favourable fixtures to close the gap above them.
The manager is aided by a clean bill of health to all but long-term absentees Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic and could name an unchanged line-up for the second game running if he is moved to do so.
He is likely to have Morgan Schneiderlin champing at the bit, however, now that he is bedded in and closer to match sharpness. The Frenchman made a move from Manchester United three weeks ago precisely because he wanted to play every week and after two substitute appearances in place of Gareth Barry, he might feel his time to start has come. With two games in the space of four days, too much for the 35-year-old Barry, that is likely to be at Stoke or at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
Unless Koeman moves to change up his defensive formation — unlikely against a physical Stoke team that could boast Peter Crouch's aerial ability in its starting XI — it's hard to envisage many changes to the team that kicked off at Selhurst Park.
Joel Robles has already received the nod from his manager that he will be starting and the recency of Idrissa Gueye's return from Africa Cup of Nations duty has taken that difficult decision out of Koeman's hands for another few days at least. After putting in another impressively precocious performance at Palace, it seems inconceivable that Tom Davies would be dropped back to the bench but a selection headache in the centre of the park is coming.
Stoke, meanwhile, have returnees from Africa of their own who won't be involved. Neither Wilfried Bony and Mame Biram Diouf are expected to face Everton but their new signing from West Bromwich Albion, Sadio Berahino could make his debut, even if only off the bench. The striker's last couple of seasons at the Hawthorns were bogged down by controversy and debates over his temperament and attitude but he now has a new opportunity to get his career back on track.
Everton's performance at Palace should provide the template for a fixture that is never easy, even if they made it look that way last season in what was the last great away performance under Roberto Martinez. With just one win in December, the Potters have recovered somewhat since conceding eight in two games against Liverpool and Chelsea to close out 2016 by winning two in four but as Bournemouth and Wolves have shown in recent weeks, they are fallible at home.
By remaining defensively tight and restricting the service to Crouch from crosses, Koeman's men will create the platform to hopefully carve out sufficient chances at the other end to keep this winning run going.
Kick-off: 8pm, 1 February, 2017
Referee: Craig Pawson
Last Time: Stoke City 0 - 3 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Robles, Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori, Coleman, Baines, Schneiderlin, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (65)
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1 Posted 31/01/2017 at 21:58:48
2 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:04:01
3 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:12:45
A game to talk about. Got to win, doesn't matter how.
4 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:13:05
Tomorrow night is winnable and by far the most difficult of our next 5. I'm looking for 15 pts from the next 15 available to get us right in the mix. Sounds a lot but it's totally achievable.
5 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:19:51
6 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:21:36
It's a hard place to go and you can't turn in a half-arsed showing at Stoke because, even though they are more cultured than when Pulis was there, they are still a pretty physical side with the likes of Arnautovic (who I rate highly).
Apart from last season, when we blitzed them in the first half, the Britannia has been a tough place for us.
If we could somehow get six points from the next two games, we will really put the pressure on those directly above us but this is Everton and we are well accustomed to things going pear-shaped very quickly after a decent run.
A bit disappointed we didn't push on with at least one or two more experienced backup signings even just to see the season out with, but we just hope no injuries to crucial players now is all we can do.
7 Posted 31/01/2017 at 22:24:32
He has, apparently, suffered a blow to his confidence, having to play football for a change instead of WWF.
Unfortunately only Dean took this approach so we'll probably see the wrestling continue/increase as the season carries on.
8 Posted 31/01/2017 at 23:20:58
I spoke to a Leicester fan today and he put their fall from grace down to exactly the same thing. Apparently they can't defend crosses since locking up your opponent was outlawed.
9 Posted 01/02/2017 at 00:24:47
Gabbiadini was available but supposedly flush Everton not interested. Opportunity lost to get the team settled and prepared for next season.
So we take on Stoke with probably Robles, Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori, Coleman, Davies, Gana, Schneiderlin, Baines, Barkley, Lukaku.
Good luck, blues.
10 Posted 01/02/2017 at 00:35:08
11 Posted 01/02/2017 at 00:40:22
12 Posted 01/02/2017 at 00:47:32
13 Posted 01/02/2017 at 01:17:28
I'm almost frightened to be too happy yet as each time we look to get into our stride, we get a shit result.
I'm starting to feel like we're moving along nicely now though, and with all the out-goings it makes our squad much more tight-knit.
14 Posted 01/02/2017 at 02:24:58
Anyway I rarely agree with Jim Bennings but I do today I think it'll be a draw... but we really need a win if we want to get top 6.
15 Posted 01/02/2017 at 02:51:41
16 Posted 01/02/2017 at 07:01:22
17 Posted 01/02/2017 at 07:38:38
Personally I'm not disappointed that Everton didn't splash that cash on a player whose game has gone stale. I read that he's getting almost nothing in open play... his goals this year have been mostly pens. If Ronald no longer fancies him, I trust his judgement.
18 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:09:31
It makes you wonder how the likes of Stoke, WBA etc. would have fared in the Premier League if the letter of the law (regarding holding, shirt pulling etc) at set pieces was adhered to. At any other part of the pitch, where it's becoming a non-contact sport, it wouldn't be allowed.
Would Stoke etc have been the typical yo-yo club, a team who can't compete at the top level consistently but can battle to promotion every couple of seasons because their brand of thuggery works better a league lower? Certainly food for thought.
The Leicester fan clearly knows that with Huth and Morgan LCFC have two of the biggest yard dogs in the Premier League. All the ToffeeWebbers who were calling for a Shawcross or Huth recently were way off beam.
19 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:34:30
I hope they are vigilant tonight.
20 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:36:00
21 Posted 01/02/2017 at 08:41:39
We have Valencia & Calvert-Lewin, plus Mirallas if need be.
I trust Koeman - it's unlikely that you're going to get the quality you need to improve the team in January, in the forwards department.
Wait for the summer!
& maybe a cheeky big for Dolberg
23 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:33:53
Recent performances and results have me thinking more of the same please lads, just keep up the good work. We're on a roll and the potters are terrified that we're in town and in form.
Then what happens is, yeah but we'll go and throw it away tonight and ruin it all.
Just hope Koeman starts the same team again as rewards for doing the business and to get the bench to step up in order to get a start.
24 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:42:38
As much as I'm hoping for a win, I think it's a tougher task than the Palace game. That being said, if we are to catch the teams above then we must go all out to win. Don't care if it's ugly, just need to be tight at the back and hope for some clinical finishing.
25 Posted 01/02/2017 at 09:51:06
I really hope that Joel gets a sustained run through to end of season on merit. When I first saw him I thought he was just rubbish (bear in mind I thought the same about Big Nev's initial performances).
Recent performances bear little relation to those dodgy outings. Now I'm seeing an "Alpha Male" attitude in dominating his box and issuing orders to his defence. Add to that his comfort in claiming and holding crosses and I'm thinking "he's really working at improving ALL aspects of his game" (didn't Big Nev do just that around the same age?).
Numerous young players have impressed me and then failed to thrive and mature. What I've seen recently of Joel is neither reminiscent of them lads nor his former self. Hope I'm not jinxing him.
Also Gareth, on the matter of Lukaku J, I think there is merit in your suggestion as it could sway Romelu to stay, or at least make it more awkward to leave. Though perhaps the time to have done that has just closed.
26 Posted 01/02/2017 at 10:49:36
27 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:02:43
28 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:09:52
It's highly unlikely all 3 fixtures will go our way, but stranger things have happened.
29 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:22:57
I would hope that we start with the same team that has started the last 2 games. Barry has been terrific for us and I think seeing we have had 10 days since our last game there is no need to rest him.
The team must have more confidence after the last few results and at this level confidence is a big plus. I think it will be very tough trying to catch any of the teams ahead of us in the league, but if we keep winning then you never know what will happen.
30 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:25:05
With the games coming up, I think a point would be a good result tonight.
31 Posted 01/02/2017 at 11:52:03
1. Today is my first day back working after emergency surgery before Xmas and all OK
2. I have had a tooth abscess since a week ago and pain stopped today so antibiotics working.
3. Stoke v Everton?
32 Posted 01/02/2017 at 12:11:06
My fear is that after rising to general attention against City Davies will receive a lot of attention tonight with the purpose of slowing him down and eroding his confidence injuries are common. His next few games will tell us if he is up to it.
33 Posted 01/02/2017 at 12:18:12
34 Posted 01/02/2017 at 12:32:17
I think Barry will start tonight, and be rested for Saturday's game for Bournemouth which looks the easier of the two games.
35 Posted 01/02/2017 at 12:57:10
37 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:51:48
I would love for us to get three points tonight but Stoke is always a difficult place to go and get a result. I just hope Koeman has seen enough in Lookman to realise that we have options up-front.
38 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:54:25
39 Posted 01/02/2017 at 13:58:50
Danny Higgingbotham, ex Stoke player and current pundit, quoted Robert Huth, "Leicester are basically a good Stoke" post winning the league.
40 Posted 01/02/2017 at 14:07:53
41 Posted 01/02/2017 at 14:10:01
42 Posted 01/02/2017 at 14:47:52
43 Posted 01/02/2017 at 15:27:22
Physical they always have been, and will take us apart if we do not match them!!!
Always hopeful COYB
44 Posted 01/02/2017 at 15:45:58
Or what Chris Williams says, they both start with Davies and Barkley, and then we bring pace (Mirallas, Lookman) on later.
45 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:02:50
The teams that consistently do well in this league respect the opposition without ever worrying too much about them. Don't lump the ball up to Lukaku as their yard dogs would love that. Incisive passing with direct running, particularly from Barkley. COYFBB!
46 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:15:23
Who would ever want that, football or not?
47 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:27:02
48 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:30:23
49 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:43:55
50 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:44:04
It will be interesting to see the bench in a few weeks if we suffer any injuries over the next couple of matches
51 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:47:15
52 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:50:33
53 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:53:08
But stuff 'em!
54 Posted 01/02/2017 at 17:59:43
55 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:00:09
I would still like to see 3 at the back though which seems to suit Bainesy and Coleman and with Holgate's height and awareness gives us a bit more aerial power in defence.
56 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:06:28
57 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:12:12
58 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:15:12
Beavis grunts to Butthead: "Stoke on a dark winter night.
Who would ever want that, football or not?"
Butthead grunts back: "Not to mention the gurning, toothless yokels that are their fans..."
With a name like Melt I really think you've no room to talk either.
Just stop all this brainless ad hominem. Pair of plonkers. No before you ask, I don't live in Stoke.
59 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:23:49
60 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:40:08
61 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:45:15
62 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:47:34
63 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:48:09
64 Posted 01/02/2017 at 18:59:33
68 Posted 01/02/2017 at 19:05:56
69 Posted 01/02/2017 at 19:06:32
72 Posted 02/02/2017 at 16:00:13
Notwithstanding other's saying it, I use the term ad hominem because someone makes a personal statement or implies personal without using actual express terms (ie inferential).
I may also use non sequitur if a person asks a question but a respondent cherry picks (disproportionate inference) the part of the question which was intended as obiter dictum (said in passing).
In short it means a superficial answer is provided rather than a preferable substantive (not trivial) one.