West Brom vs Everton

, 19 January, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
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Everton begin a three-match spell on the road with a trip to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion as the heat in Premier League's top six continues to rise following the weekend programme.

The Blues go into the game sitting below fifth place for the first time since late November but know that a win will see them jump back into the Champions League places ahead of the Anfield derby at the end of the month.

The consistent manner in which Everton's rivals for those coveted top-four spots have been winning away from home is a big reason why the leading three teams have started to open a small gap between themselves and the chasing pack and the battle for fourth has become so intense.

It's that pressure that will hopefully inspire the Blues under the positive guidance of Roberto Martinez as they go in search of their first win away from Goodison Park of 2014.

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The manager has been boosted by the return to full training of Sylvain Distin in the past week and is likely to resume his partnership with Phil Jagielka. The Frenchman has been deputised superbly by first Antolin Alcaraz and then John Stones but with the Paraguayan rested with muscle fatigue, Distin's experience will probably trump the 19-year-old this time around.

Aiden McGeady is included in the squad for the first time following his arrival from Spartak Moscow and though he is short on match fitness, he will be hoping to perhaps play some part off the substitute's bench in the second half.

For their part, West Brom, who play their first game under new manager, Pepe Mel, will start the day just three points off the relegation zone in the tight environs of the bottom half. They began the year with a home win over Newcastle but that was their first victory in 10 matches and since New Year's day they have been dumped out of the FA Cup on their own ground by Crystal Palace and lost at Southampton.

Everton will be bringing Romelu Lukaku, shorn of his trademark dreadlocks, back to The Hawthorns for the first time since he signed off his time with the Baggies with a hat-trick against Manchester United on the final day of last season. The striker is enduring something of a lean spell in terms of goals with just one in his last eight games but his overall contribution to the Blues' attack remains pivotal.

With victory a must for Everton, Martinez will need his Belgian attacking duo of Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas on top form. Having dropped points against Sunderland and Stoke, the fine win over Norwich last weekend represented a return to winning ways in the League. Establishing momentum with three points away from home against a struggling team will be paramount.

Quotes or other material sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports

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