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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 13 February 2016; 3:00pm
0 1
Half Time: 0 - 1
Rondon 14' 
Attendance: 38,103
Fixture 26
Referee: Michael Oliver

Match Preview

With their eyes trained upward again thanks to an uptick in form over the past couple of weeks, Everton go in search of what would be a fourth consecutive victory when West Bromwich Albion make the trip north.

Since the disillusionment and frustration that welled up after the Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, optimism that something can be salvaged from the season has crept in on the back of the subsequent three matches.Roberto Martinezs team won back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season and progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Not only is there hope that the Blues can grab a second chance at booking a place at Wembley but, having moved into the top half of the table following last weekends romp at Stoke City, the possibility of finishing in one of the European places doesnt seem so distant after all.

Everton have the chance to further those claims and complete a second league double this weekend when West Bromwich Albion come to Goodison Park. The Blues earned a thrilling come-from-behind victory at The Hawthorns back in the reverse fixture and another victory would give Martinezs men a chance of closing the gap on the teams above them, depending on how results go elsewhere.

The Baggies may only have won three times away from home all season albeit two of them coming against sides currently sitting in the bottom three and the last was in October but, as a Tony Pulis outfit, they always have the propensity to frustrate sides that like to come out and attack.

That kind of opposition has posed problems for Everton over the past couple of seasons, as evidenced a little over a year ago when West Brom came to Goodison and ground out a 0-0 draw against the Toffees in a game made infamous by Kevin Mirallass penalty miss.

Fittingly, the Belgian international should be fit to play a part in this one and make amends if he is selected. He made a late cameo at the Britannia Stadium last Saturday after recovering from a knee tendon problem and should be in the squad again this time.

He is unlikely to get a start if Martinez prolongs his recent nod towards continuity and his players form. Aaron Lennon, magnificent in all of Evertons three consecutive 3-0 wins over the past fortnight, has grabbed his opportunity with both hands since the debacle at the Etihad and has been keeping Gerard Deulofeu on the bench. Should that continue this weekend, Pulis might breathe a sigh of relief because it was the Spaniard who was the architect of that 3-2 Everton win over West Brom in September but Lennon has been in sparkling form and showed at Stoke in particular how dangerous he can be.

Leighton Baines, meanwhile, could be in the same boat given the recent form and fitness of Bryan Oviedo who has been rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract. Baines sat out the cup tie at Carlisle at the end of last month and might be forced to watch on again against West Brom from the dugout.

Another player likely to start on the bench is new signing Oumar Niasse who missed out last week due to a lack of fitness but who could be in line for a debut as a substitute this time around if the conditions merit it. The 25-year-old has been showing his new teammates what he can do in training this week and Romelu Lukaku, his potential strike partner, has been impressed with the Senegaleses power, even if he remains a little raw.

Slight doubts over the fitness of Tim Howard and John Stones mean that Martinez could quite easily named another unchanged line-up, with Joel Robles keeping his place in goal after recording his third clean sheet on the bounce and Ramiro Funes Mori continuing his impressive partnership with Phil Jagielka.

With Everton in fine goalscoring form this season theyve only been shut out twice in the 24 games in all competitions since they last played West Brom finding the net should not be a problem, even given the fact that theyll be going up against a Pulis defence. Indeed, its a visiting team that could find the going hard so soon after being forced to play extra time at Peterborough in the FA Cup on Wednesday.

The key, therefore, will be keeping things tight and organised at the back, particularly when defending set-pieces. The Baggies almost pulled off a smash-and-grab raid from set-pieces on their last visit to Merseyside but were denied a 2-1 victory at Anfield by a 96th-minute Liverpool equaliser. Things have looked and felt safer at the back since Robles came into the side but he and his defenders could be tested more sternly this weekend if the Midlanders are up for it.

Kick-off: 3pm
Referee: Michael Oliver
Predicted line-up: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Oviedo, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku

Lyndon Lloyd

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Funes Mori
  McCarthy (Osman 82')
  Cleverley (Kone 58')
  Lennon (Deulofeu 74')
  Subs not used
  Besic (injured)
  Browning (injured)
  Stones (injured)
  McGeady (loan)
  Garbutt (loan)
  Ledson (loan)
WEST BROM (4-4-2)
  McClean (Brunt 57' )
  Berahino (Sandro 90+2')
  Rondon (Anichebe 72')
  Subs not used

Premier League Scores
Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke City
Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle
C Palace 1-2 Watford
Everton 0-1 West Brom
Norwich 2-2 West Ham
Swansea 0-1 So'hampton
Sunderland 2-1 Man United
Arsenal 2-1 Leicester
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool
Man City 1-2 Tottenham

Team Pts
1 Leicester City 53
2 Tottenham Hotspur 51
3 Arsenal 51
4 Manchester City 47
5 Manchester United 41
6 Southampton 40
7 West Ham United 40
8 Liverpool 38
9 Watford 36
10 Stoke City 36
11 Everton 35
12 Chelsea 33
13 Crystal Palace 32
14 West Bromwich Albion 32
15 AFC Bournemouth 28
16 Swansea City 27
17 Norwich City 24
18 Newcastle United 24
19 Sunderland 23
20 Aston Villa 16


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