Stoke City vs Everton
K/O: 15:00 hours
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Stoke host an Everton side who are looking to halt a five-game away losing streak. The home side are struggling to find goals to win games themselves, drawing 4 and losing two of the last six games. On the opening day, Wayne Rooney provided the only goal in a 1-0 for the Toffees under different management.
Sam Allerdyce pointed out they were looking to play to their strengths and improve their footballing mind, since their last point on the road came at a 0-0 draw to West Brom, in which they were outplayed. “We’ve been using some more work into the mind in the analysis room. Who we are, what we want to achieve, what we can get”. Stoke have become the more rigid unit which they were once regarded since Paul Lambert’s appointment but has highlighted the need for Stoke to take the game to Everton to get a win which would take them out of the relegation zone. He said, “If we win on Saturday and get out of the bottom three, psychologically that would be a great thing for us.”
The difference between the two sides in table is 10 points with a win for Everton placing them on the magical 40 points, renowned for the target of premier league safety. This would seem a more crucial game for Stoke but Allerdyce has pressured his team by suggesting their consistency was briefly present since his appointment in late November. Lambert has challenged his team to entertain the home crowd but, a victory for Stoke in any manner is vital in the race for survival. With both teams trying get correct a slump in form of sorts, a share of the points would be costlier for Stoke but not ideal for Everton either. With Southampton fighting in the FA Cup under former manager Mark Hughes and Palace still without Zaha, this could be a great chance for Stoke to increase the pressure on their rivals.
Stoke could see the return of Diouf who missed the defeat to Manchester City on Monday night due to the shoulder injury sustained against Southampton. Stephen Ireland and Lee Grant will remain out of the squad which could mean Stoke could have an unchanged team from their previous game with contention from Berahino for the striker’s role and a late fitness test for Xherdan Shaqiri. Theo Walcott has been declared fit after recovering from injury as well as Idrissa Gueye returning from an illness. Ashley Williams is still serving his ban from the red car against Burnley and Gylfi Sigurdsson is out with a knee injury, despite dispute earlier in the week over the timeline of his absence.
Everton will look to Rooney to score and provide the goals as he has scored 3 and assisted 1 in his last four meetings with Stoke. The Potters are winless in their last four against Everton despite winning three in a row prior to that but they can be confident knowing they have not lost back-to-back league games at the Bet365 since April 2017. This can be expected to be a real dogfight with both teams having points to prove but the home side will see this as must win game to continue their fight for survival. If Shaqiri is deemed unfit, its hard to see where Stoke’s chances will come from unless his exclusion promotes the side to be more cohesive as a team.
Predicted Line Up:
Stoke: Butland, Bauer, Martins-Indi, Zouma, Stafylidis, Allen, Cameron, Ndiaye, Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Jagielka, Baines, Gueye, Rooney, Davies, Walcott, Bolasie, Tosun
Prediction: Stoke 1 Everton 1
Written by Andy Ridgeway.