Kevin Mirallas is available again after overcoming a groin problem but will he get the nod over Ademola Lookman?
After what feels like an eternity since Everton last played, the Blues are back in action and back at Goodison Park this weekend facing a Sunderland side that is sitting on the bottom of the Premier League.
David Moyes returns to Goodison Park for the first time since he was stalked by the Grim Reaper during his last game as Manchester United boss in April 2014 still very much embroiled in his battle to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.
A run of just one win in six in the League since the turn of the year tells its own story, as did their last result, a 4-0 home defeat to Southampton that underlined their defensive frailties that will be sternly tested by a Blues side who have scored 13 goals in their last three at home.
Though Sunderland won their last away game 4-0, it was against a Crystal Palace team that is only sitting above them in 19th in the table on goal difference and their fans will travel from Wearside tomorrow in apprehensive mood.
While disappointed by the goalless draw at Middlesbrough a fortnight ago, Evertonians will, by contrast, be expectant after the feast of goals they enjoyed against Bournemouth earlier this month. Ronald Koeman will caution against any complacency though as he seeks to continue the momentum of an eight-match unbeaten run that stretches back to Boxing Day.
The Dutchman has been boosted by the confirmation that Romelu Lukaku's calf problem was relatively minor and that his trip to Belgium for treatment while the rest of the squad travelled to Dubai has apparently been a successful one. The striker has trained normally over the past three days and will be in the team when it's announced at two o'clock.
Koeman can also welcome back Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy who both missed the Boro game with minor complaints but with that will come some selection headaches, albeit of the good kind.
Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies were named as a central midfield trio at The Riverside and would be good bets to get the nod again over Gareth Barry (who turned 36 this week) and McCarthy. Koeman has usually selected the Irishman when fit, however, and he was impressive in his last start against Bournemouth so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come into the side, perhaps at Davies' or Gueye's expense.
Further forward, you suspect it will be a straight choice between Mirallas and Ademola Lookman over who plays alongside Lukaku and Ross Barkley, with the calibre of the opposition maybe tempting the manager to give the youngster another start after two more weeks to settle into his new surroundings and soak up more of what Koeman expects of him.
Sunderland aren't without their threats, of course, and chief among them will be top scorer Jermaine Defoe whose ability to conjure a goal out of nothing or capitalise on the smallest defensive lapse means that he will need to be watched by whatever defensive combination Koeman goes for.
Then there is added dynamic of the band of ex-Everton players who will also be returning to Goodison, most notably Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson who were both in Moyes's starting XI against Southampton two weeks ago.
Gibson, in particular, will feel like he has something to prove having failed to register a start under Koeman all season while Oviedo was praised by Black Cats fans for the impact he has made coming into difficult circumstances in a that mired in another fight for survival.
There are no easy games in the Premier League but given the high spirits in the Blues' camp and their home form since the derby defeat, Everton will be strong favourites in this one. Koeman's men will need to remain focused and, perhaps, patient, if they aren't able to make an early breakthrough but if they show up on their game, they should take the three points and close the gap again on Manchester United who are in EFL Cup final action this weekend.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 25th February, 2017
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Last Time: Everton 6-2 Sunderland
Predicted Line-up: Robles, Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Barkley, Lookman, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (82)
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1 Posted 24/02/2017 at 09:08:10
2 Posted 24/02/2017 at 09:23:23
Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines
Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies
3 Posted 24/02/2017 at 10:03:04
4 Posted 24/02/2017 at 10:23:30
Btw, I like the look of James's (#2) team.
5 Posted 24/02/2017 at 10:41:38
6 Posted 24/02/2017 at 10:42:08
Coleman - Holgate - Williams - Baines
Mirallas - Barkley - Davies - Lookman
Stekelenburg, Funes Mori, Barry, Lennon, Gueye, McCarthy, Valencia
More attacking, means no Jags at all, but Oviedo will go at us unless he has a winger to mark. Holgate can track Defoe better than Jags & Funes Mori with his pace.
7 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:02:32
8 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:17:33
Potential for a big win but in the Premier League you never know....
Come on, you Blues.
9 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:28:31
Davies, McCarthy, Lookman or Mirallas ready to change the game if needed.
10 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:39:44
Gotta start Davies, the lad looks quality & fires us up with some top movement & real passing ability.
3-1 Blues... the Black Cats can have one (for Bradley)... the Spurs game next is the REAL acid test for me!
11 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:56:35
For example, take a 4-4-2. Then add in the Everton team of '85:
Stevens, Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Bailey
Steven, Reid, Bracewell, Sheedy
Now we all know these guys. Stevens bombs forward just as much as Coleman ever does, destroying the myth of the marauding fullback as a new invention. Anyway, if they had heat maps and all the modern malarkey, we would see Steven and Stevens much further forward than the left flank. Bailey hardly ever got forward. He would tuck in to cover in the middle and allow Ratcliffe to cover Stevens, especially with his pace. Then Reid would drop deeper than Bracewell. Gray played as the furthest forward of the two forwards and Sharp or Heath would drop deeper into midfield to help initiate attacks.
Suddenly that 4-4-2 is able to be molded into a 3-4-3:
Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Bailey
Stevens, Reid, Bracewell, Sheedy
Steven, Gray, Sharp
Or you could easily argue that it was playing as a 4-2-3-1:
Stevens, Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Bailey
Steven, Sharp, Sheedy
My point: stop banging on about formations. They don't matter. The best managers make minor tweaks and are fluid enough to react to what's going on.
We don't need 3 centre-backs against Sunderland, that's absolutely bonkers. If we're bothered about the defence, then rest assured Koeman can see the same issue. He can just as easily cover the same issue by instructing Schneiderlin / Gueye or my preference of McCarthy to drop into defence when necessary and to bring the ball out. Having 3 actual centre-backs just to look after Defoe is nuts, and if you said this when Moyes was in charge and added the words "to make us more attacking" your fellow ToffeeWebbers would have sent for the men in white coats!
12 Posted 24/02/2017 at 12:18:53
Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines
Davies, Barkley, Mirallas
Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Gueye, Valencia, Barry, Lookman.
13 Posted 24/02/2017 at 12:23:25
14 Posted 24/02/2017 at 13:41:18
We need to turn up with the right mentality and correct attitude and make sure we apply ourselves from the word go.
We can take advantage of Manchester United having no game in the Premier League this week and also again in two weeks when they face Chelsea in the FA Cup Quarter-final.
15 Posted 24/02/2017 at 13:59:35
When Mirallas starts, he always comes off early because he's been shite and still people want him to start – fecking crazy!!!
16 Posted 24/02/2017 at 14:02:09
Coleman, Holgate, Williams, Baines
Davies, Barkley, Lookman
The front four have an average age under 21! Hard on McCarthy I suppose who was excellent against Bournemouth. I'd play Lookman, Davies and Holgate every game.
17 Posted 24/02/2017 at 14:04:55
Defoe is still able to find the onion bag. However, Everton have options everywhere.
If we do lack anything, it's because us fans are still petrified to peep outside the cage after a decade-plus of stories about "the bogeyman".
Play with intent, Blue Boys. Score. Score early, score more and more and more.
4-0. Not saying how many minutes into the game, though.
And Robles MUST start.
18 Posted 24/02/2017 at 14:21:17
Sunderland are fighting for their Premier League lives and won't lie down, Defoe is clearly their main threat and needs to be closely watched and any of our former players picked will be out to prove their point, IMO we must score early on and force them to abandon any 'parked bus' approach to stifle our attack.
19 Posted 24/02/2017 at 15:12:33
I for one hope we tear them a new one!
20 Posted 24/02/2017 at 15:18:24
No doubt Moyes will have some ideas on how he will stop us, but Defoe is their main hope and, if our midfield clicks, we should be too strong for them.
21 Posted 24/02/2017 at 15:54:37
We can't take any game for granted in the run in... the Mackems will give it a real go, we need to be positive & mentally strong from the off.
A good win will send a clear message out to the teams above us... were chasing you the fuck down... right till the final game!
22 Posted 24/02/2017 at 16:06:24
Just gotta keep this unbeaten run going & keep the pressure on the teams above us.
3 points a must... then onto the Lane!
23 Posted 24/02/2017 at 16:26:55
Davies, Schneiderlin and Gueye in midfield
Coleman, Holgate, Williams and Baines in front of Robles.
The midfield will break down any attack from Sunderland, while Lookman and Barkley can drift wide when needed to support our fullbacks in attack.
Coleman Holgate Williams Baines
Davies Gueye Schniederlin
Barkley Lukaku Lookman
Just my opinion and probably totally wrong. :)
24 Posted 24/02/2017 at 16:48:44
Coleman Williams Pennington Baines
McCarthy Schneiderlin Davies
Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Gana, MIrallas, Valencia, Barry, Walsh.
I can't see Walsh making the bench but it's high time he did!
Let's give young Bradley a great day!!
25 Posted 24/02/2017 at 16:55:20
Now that Gueye has fully recovered from the Afcon trip, he would be the first name on the teamsheet for me. I think Schneiderlin, Davies and Barkley seem to work well together and then, for me, it's a question of either 3 at the back with Holgate in, or 4 at the back and Lookman in alongside Lukaku.
I am hoping for an early goal to unsettle them and hopefully a big win.
26 Posted 24/02/2017 at 16:57:28
'Ere, don't you come on here talking all that common-sense rubbish. And stop being positive. No call for that sort of thing at all.
27 Posted 24/02/2017 at 17:35:21
28 Posted 24/02/2017 at 18:08:10
29 Posted 24/02/2017 at 18:27:12
30 Posted 24/02/2017 at 18:38:27
32 Posted 24/02/2017 at 19:05:58
33 Posted 24/02/2017 at 19:17:37
34 Posted 24/02/2017 at 19:22:13
35 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:05:00
36 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:05:38
37 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:15:27
38 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:36:34
Tom Davies is a must, and Gana needs game time after the AFCON, and last weeks break. As others have stated (though I'm not sure it needs mentioning) our Number One is Robles, and any change of keeper can only knock his confidence. The form he's in at present must be in the top 3 PL goalies at least.
It should be a comfortable win, (though we were saying that at Xmas 2013, when Howard and Osman decided to destroy our momentum) and our unbeaten run should continue... OAU COYB
39 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:46:13
Holgate's fine in the 3-5-2 if that's the alignment, but why get experimental with our back four, especially against the bottom side, when we're playing so well right now?
I'm fine with James #2 and that 4-3-2-1 attack. I'll take Gueye as my marginal preference over Macca, but have no issue with those who like Macca better.
40 Posted 24/02/2017 at 20:48:44
"They all float down here, Mackems, they all float."
41 Posted 24/02/2017 at 21:42:48
When they click, it hopefully will be a really good midfield partnership.
42 Posted 24/02/2017 at 21:45:20
I just hope Tom Davies doesnt suffer because he would be the easiest to tell he is on the bench.
To me, the team selection is less important than keeping the team motivated and on their toes.
43 Posted 24/02/2017 at 21:48:09
I understand your point of view in holding McCarthy back so he is properly fit but the team were lacking last time out at Middlesboro in midfielders pressing going forward, lacked the intensity that McCarthy had shown in his previous games.
Sunderland, although looking down and out, will fight to get at least a point. James will take a lot of the fight out of them.
44 Posted 24/02/2017 at 22:59:04
We are all too aware of several Goodison games earlier this season when the opposition frustrated the Blues but we must now believe they are a different team that is far better equipped to handle teams like Sunderland, even if they do have a poacher like Defoe.
Basically Koeman has a full squad to choose from and should take care of business even though Sunderland will have several Everton cast-offs anxious to prove something.
45 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:02:26
Now that we have Lookman, I'd be tempted to let Mirallas start, then let Lookman have a go at the tiring opposition during the later half of the game. Mirallas always has the promise to do something right when he starts, but he fades away if he fails with any early impact.
46 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:03:11
47 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:07:49
48 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:17:30
Very early on, I saw McCarthy more as an attacking option in our midfield (well, DFM to AFM, as needed), I was rather deflated when I learned he was considered a defending midfielder 'only' by most people.
Shame about his injuries, but I think Koeman has found a spot to peg him into when fit. And I hope he'll feature a lot more, but then who for??? I'm sad I don't have Koeman's wages, but very happy that I don't have his headaches (even if only from making hard choices about the playing XI!) :P
49 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:21:04
You are so positive in your views that you might make this site implode! Please stop, or you'll hurt more than my sides! :D
51 Posted 24/02/2017 at 23:38:54
If we can't field a team with the necessary mind-set to win without too much stress, it'll tell me that two weeks in the sun (with one notable absentee staying behind to natter with his Flemish doctor, dad, agent, clairvoyant (you choose) should never happen again. Anything less than a comfortable win will be a kick in the goolies by the team to Koeman after everything he's said this week.
Unlike his "phenomenal" predecessor I believe Koeman has already sorted the wheat from the chaff temperament-wise from the squad. Poor performance is now out in terms of retaining your place in the team and even good performance doesn't guarantee it such is the growing quality of the squad (ask Tom Davies). That's how it needs to be to further develop this and next season, and ever afterwards, if Mr Moshiri is being genuine.
The score's irrelevant providing we win but I'll be disillusioned, again, if it turns out to have been a struggle.
52 Posted 25/02/2017 at 01:40:11
53 Posted 25/02/2017 at 03:27:07
I agree with your analysis of the '85 side with one niggle. Bailey didn't come forward as much as Stevens because he wasn't in the side.
He'd been replaced by Psycho Pat by'85 and he certainly gave a lot more going forward down the left than (the otherwise excellent) John Bailey. As a result the side was a much more balanced 4-4-2 = with two attacking full backs and two wide midfielders (Sheedy and Steven) who were essentially wingers that could tackle back (well at least one of them could Steven) and two excellent defensive mids that covered for the attacking wide men (Reid and Bracewell).
The current team is beginning to stir memories of that '85 side... quality all over the park... almost. Mind you I've felt it a couple of time before, the Arteta period between 2007 and 2009 before he got injured and Roberto's first season. Good sides but not good enough to quite get to the silverware in the modern age... but hope springs eternal
54 Posted 25/02/2017 at 05:20:28
55 Posted 25/02/2017 at 07:48:01
Got to fix the back fence and then get myself ready. Looking forward to a great day... cosmic grooves all the way.
Up The Blues.
56 Posted 25/02/2017 at 08:18:22
57 Posted 25/02/2017 at 08:28:13
58 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:10:44
59 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:15:01
If like this for the game, it might make it something if a lottery. Here's hoping, COYB.
60 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:21:30
Moyes will play a Moyes game, park 17 buses and hope to nick one on a counter or set-piece. I expect we'll have loads of possession, especially in the first half, so we'll need to be very patient.
Schneiderlin and Geuye are our current best midfielders (also both Koeman signings) so I hope/expect to see them start so they can begin to build a long-term partnership. Personally I'd like to see an initial 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1:
Coleman, Willams, Funes Mori, Baines
Davis, Schneiderlin, Geuye
Lookman, Lukaku, Barkley
Mirallas and Valencia as attacking back-up off the bench. No midweek games until April so no need to rest/rotate anyone play the best team every weekend, injuries & suspensions notwithstanding.
I hope we absolutely stuff them and send the ginger twat packing Moyes derby, my arse!
With the Manc derby postponed and Liverpool playing on Monday, 3 points today will seriously close the gap on the top 6 and start to put the pressure on a couple of teams above.
Also we have Spurs away next weekend, so all the more important to get 3 points today.
61 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:24:07
Everton 1 - 0 Sunderland
Baines (90' pen)
62 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:29:00
When we play 4-3-3, both full backs are hampered by the fact that when they go forwards, they leave Williams and Funes Mori exposed behind them, and neither of those is up to the task. With 3 at the back, the wing backs can play more advanced and add width which we sorely need. This allows the advanced midfielders to play further up the pitch, and closer to Rom. It's pretty simple actually, 4 at the back leaves Rom isolated, and 3 at the back provides him with support.
This isn't necessarily down to the formation, but more to the personnel employed in it. If we had two fast centre backs, the full backs would have more confidence in going forward, but we don't unfortunately.
Lastly, I think to say that formations don't make any difference, and then go on to provide in depth analysis of how systems work and how they can adapt, is pretty ironic.
63 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:30:47
Coincidentally, there's an interview with Trevor Steven on the Everton Show this week, and the Rat is in the Studio. Graham Stuart remarked about how much the modern fullback bombs on more than in the past, i.e. Coleman. The Rat correctly pointed out just how much Stevens got forward. Definitely worth a watch, Blues. That show is getting better and better.
There was some more clips from Dubai and I liked the look of a certain player getting forward, putting in some decent passes and scoring. Who was it? Funes Mori! I wonder if maybe he could be better in a more advanced role, but then again, he'd never make our midfield.
64 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:33:00
65 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:41:46
Now sitting at my writing desk surrounded by my favie photos and images: to my right, a photo of me from Koln newspaper with my "One Evertonian is worth Twenty Liverpudlians" from our Exhibition in Koln of Dark House photos. Above that, a Postcard of Goodison. Above my head, some postcards of Van Gogh and me dressed as Vincent for his Birthday; Diaghilev, Wordsworth, Klimt and William Morris... behind me, my friend Josef's original jacket from Auschwitz (given to me in his will – red triangle no 95902); poster from Le Chat Noir, Rave On Mr Satie, Solidarnosc Posters... Window on my left with Goodison in sight – a bit grey and drizzle.... like a Whistler Symphony in grey and gold.
Off to Goodison soon:
"Take Me Back Way, way back, way back
When you walked, in a green field, in a green meadow
Down an avenue of trees
On a, on a golden summer
And the sky was blue
And you didn't have no worries, you didn't have no care
You were walking in a green field
In a meadow, through the buttercups, in the summertime
And you looked way out over, way out
Way out over the city and the water
And it feels so good, and it feels so good
And you keep on walking
While we're still and quiet
And you look out on the water
And the big ships, and the big boats
Came on sailing by, by, by, by
And you felt so good, and I felt so good
I felt I want to blow my harmonica
Take me back, there, take me way back there
Take me back, take me back, take me back
Take me way, way, way back, way back
To when, when I understood
When I understood the light, when I understood the light
In the golden afternoon, in the golden afternoon
In the golden afternoon, in the golden afternoon
In the golden afternoon when we sat and listened to Sonny Boy blow
In the golden afternoon when
We sat and let Sonny Boy, blow, blow his harp"
So, just before I go and get myself all ready for the Golden Trip – just going to sit and have a blow on my harmonica....
There you go...
"In The Internal Moment...
When you lived, in The Light...
In The Grace...
In The Light."
I love Saturday Games.
66 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:56:15
Everton + Galute = long afternoon
Hardly sticking my neck out as it has been thus for years now.
Would love to see people like Schneiderlin, Gana and Macca start to add a little respectability to their scoring stats.
67 Posted 25/02/2017 at 09:57:54
"Menstral"... isn't that the cold wind that blows into the South of France?
68 Posted 25/02/2017 at 10:11:48
As for Mike's (#46) menstrual cycle analogy: mate, once they're out, they're out for good!!!! They never go back in!
69 Posted 25/02/2017 at 10:25:19
And whilst I've got no time for Moyes, I've got loads of time for "our little mascot", and most of all I'd love that song to be true for him and all his family.
70 Posted 25/02/2017 at 10:26:00
I read an article where Barkley said he understands his new role better under Koeman. He admits he needs to score more and is now more aware of his defensive duties. I think the change in Barkley is a sample of what Koeman is changing in this team.
71 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:10:12
They will attempt to reach half time without conceding so an early goal or two is a priority.
I just hope that someone steps up to the plate if Lukaku is tightly marked. We cannot just rely on him for goals.< After the warm weather break in the Emirates, they should be fully fit and raring to go.
72 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:18:34
It's going to be a little weird with so many ex-blues on thier side. I'll be generous if we're winning.
4-1 (Lukaku 2, Lookman, Funes Mori. Defoe for them.
Baines to miss a pen (if Pickford plays!)
73 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:21:08
74 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:21:27
75 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:27:47
76 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:38:01
Therefore, I suggest that Koeman play:
Davies McCarthy Gueye
Funes Mori/Holgate Williams
77 Posted 25/02/2017 at 11:42:02
Up the Toffees!
78 Posted 25/02/2017 at 12:30:31
Every campaign is an entity in itself so don't see a thumping win today as any more than just that. A thumping win but it will do for now!
79 Posted 25/02/2017 at 12:53:22
Rapier wit and caustic as ever.
Brilliant stuff, Eugene.
80 Posted 25/02/2017 at 13:22:37
I have been supporting for to long to think the easy games are easy.
A chance to make some progress on Man Utd... will it happen? I would like to think 4-0 or 5-0 but my head tells me this is Everton and we don't do the expected.
81 Posted 25/02/2017 at 13:27:16
82 Posted 25/02/2017 at 13:42:17
I just have to believe, and hope, that Koeman is a different manager from our previous ones and really does have a plan to take us back to the summit.
If we batter a poor Sunderland team today, it won't mean much as a mark of tangible progress but it'll be three more points which is okay with me.
Slowly but surely, he is reconstructing the team and giving them a winning mentality which is something we've been bereft of for far too long.
83 Posted 25/02/2017 at 13:47:16
84 Posted 25/02/2017 at 21:05:54
"Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic"
Cosmic grooves to you from the land of Oz.
Up the Blues!!!!