Last weekend saw Everton pick up a decent point in South Wales in a goalless draw with strong starters Swansea. Since then, it has been a week that has seen Everton progress to the 4th round of the League Cup after a 2-1 win at Reading on Tuesday night. Focus now turns to our next Premier League game, a trip to West Brom on Monday night. The 2 sides last met back in January in a dull 0-0 draw at Goodison that most will want to forget. However, the reverse fixture at the Hawthorns resulted in a 2-0 win for Everton in what was out first win of the 2014/15 season. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring against his former club in only the 2nd minute of the game. It was a brilliant right-footed curling shot from distance that gave Everton the lead and opened Lukaku’s goal scoring account for the season. The other half of Everton’s Belgian duo, Kevin Mirallas, scored the 2nd of the goal of the game in the 66th minute when his shot beat West Brom keeper Ben Foster.
West Brom have earned a healthy 8 points of their first 6 games of the season despite having a tough run of opponents in the opening weeks. Last weekend was one of success for West Brom who triumphed 1-0 away at their Midland rivals, Aston Villa. It was a first half goal from controversial forward Saido Berahino that settled the matter at Villa Park. It was however a much different story in midweek for the baggies who went crashing out of the League Cup with a 3-0 defeat against Premier League new comers Norwich. It wasn’t until the 62nd minute that West Brom conceded when a break away goal from Matt Jarvis gave Norwich the lead. With 5 minutes remaining, Norwich made it 2-0 when Lafferty peeled away from Albion’s back-line and drove a low-shot past Lindegaard’s outstretched left-hand. Lafferty then got his 2nd of the game in the 90th minute to seal the 3-0 win. Meanwhile, a 0-0 draw at Swansea meant that Everton’s unbeaten league run against Swansea City was extended to 21 games. There were many chances to win the game for both sides but somehow it ended goalless meaning that Everton are the only side in the league yet to concede a goal away from home. It was a successful midweek for Everton with a 2-1 away win at Reading in the League Cup. It was a poor first half for the toffees and we were made to pay when Reading took the lead through Nick Blackman in the 36th minute. However, Everton came back fighting in the 2nd half with and excellent display that saw 2 brilliant goals from youngsters, Barkley and Deulofeu.
John Stones will face a late fitness ahead of the game after picking up a knee injury at Reading in midweek. Seamus Coleman has a chance of starting and will also face a late fitness test after recovering from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the side for the last 2 matches. Kevin Mirallas won’t be available as he will serve the second game of his 3 match ban. Leighton Baines remains absent with his long term injury. Saido Berahino is set to start for West Brom after making his first start in over a month at Villa last week. Boaz Myhill is expected to return in goal for the baggies after summer signing Anders Lindergaard was handed a start in midweek at Norwich. Victor Anichebe is available for selection and could feature against his former club on Monday night.
Tim Howard is set to return to start in goal after Joel Robles was favoured in midweek for the League Cup tie at Reading. With potentially 3 of our strongest back 4 out injured for the trip to West Brom, Roberto Martinez could have some tough decisions to make. If Seamus Coleman and John Stones fall short in their race for fitness then we can expect to see a youthful looking back four. Brendan Galloway will start at left back as Baines remains absent. Skipper Phil Jagielka will surely start again after making his 300th appearance for the blues at Swansea last weekend. John Stones will hopefully be fit but if not, we can expect to see a start for summer signing Ramiro Funes Mori who made his first start for the blues in midweek. Seamus Coleman could start at right back but if he fails his late fitness test then youngster Ty Browning is likely to fill his spot again after making his full debut at Swansea last week. James McCarthy will once again start in midfield and with Tom Cleverley still injured, we can expect Gareth Barry to be McCarthy’s midfield partner. Ross Barkley made his 100th Everton appearance in midweek and marked it with an impressive display that continued his excellent start to the season. He’ll start in the number 10 role after starting every game this season. Arouna Kone is likely to start as a wide forward once again after featuring in every league game this season. With Kevin Mirallas suspended, the other wide position will be filled by either Lennon, Deulofeu or Naismith. A case could be made for all 3 deserving the start. Deulofeu produced an excellent display in midweek topped off with a brilliant goal. Naismith is also a possibility as his hat trick scoring performance against Chelsea will still very much be in Martinez’ mind. Aaron Lennon could also start out wide as his tenacious style of play could very much be needed against a strong Tony Pulis side. Romelu Lukaku will almost certainly start up top on Monday night despite a slow start to the season for the Belgian.
With, Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal up next after this, this is a game that Everton will be needing to win to keep in touch with the top 4 or 5 during this tough period. It’ll be a tough game for Everton who know from experience how tough it is to beat a Tony Pulis side. However, with Everton’s attackers on form, Martinez will be hopeful of breaking down Pulis’ defensive tactics this time around.
Score Prediction: 0-1 Everton.
Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Howard, Browning, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Deulofeu, Kone, Lukaku.