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Everton were back to winning ways in the league last week against Brighton & Hove Albion following two back to back defeats and now travel to Bet365 Stadium this Saturday to contest Stoke City who are currently deep into the drop zone, fighting for their survival. The Toffees do not have much to play for this season as they are wide off a European place and have ensured a stay in the league with no possibility of going down.
Their only objective is to be in the top-half of the league table and finish seventh in order to secure a place just outside Premier League’s ‘Big Six’. They are currently placed 9th with 6 points adrift of Burnley who are keeping hold of the targeted 7th slot. Everton will thus be looking to grab a win on the road but cannot expect an easy encounter, especially against a side who are fighting for their top-flight existence.
The Merseysiders have a number of significant injury absentees for the Stoke City trip – Gylfi Sigurdsson and James McCarthy are likely to be out for the remainder of the campaign with their respective knee and calf injuries whereas Eliaquim Mangala and Maarten Stekelenburg are also out injured following knee and groin strains.
Ashley Williams is suspended for the clash after being sent off against Burnley but the likes of Theo Walcott, Ramiro Funes Mori, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin are likely to be fit for the weekend outing, shaking off their minor concerns.
‘Big Sam’ has been quite experimental with team formations so far and has fielded his men in several different set-ups so far this campaign. He, however, is likely to maintain a 4-2-3-1 pattern that earned him a much-needed win against the Seagulls.
The young English custodian was solid between the sticks against Brighton last week and will be determined to impress against the Potters in order to stake a claim in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.
His horrific injury during international duty ruled him out for months. An injury setback forced him to be sidelined yet again soon after his return but the Irishman is looking sharp once more and has done a fair job in recent outings.
The suspension of Ashley Williams will see the 35-year-old Englishman retain his place in central defence and the player will be hoping to put in a commendable display similar to the Brighton game.
The promising English centre-back has mostly been a disappointment since his summer switch from Burnley. With World Cup football knocking the doors, Keane must step up in the final set of fixtures and recover the lost ground to be in Southgate’s squad.
The veteran fullback was ruled out for a long time due to subsequent injuries but is now back in the team and is showing his excellence down the left flank.
Missed the previous game with an illness but is likely to return to the team against Stoke City and occupy a place in his usual midfield role.
The iconic Englishman has returned to his boyhood club after 13 years at Manchester United. Although a striker, the superstar is now being used in a holding midfield role by Allardyce and the free role has helped Rooney to play with more purpose and responsibility. He will start the game in a central midfield role against the Potters.
The winter signing from Arsenal has made an early impact down the right flank and is likely to feature on Saturday afternoon despite leaving the pitch with a cramp midway through the second half against the Seagulls at Goodison Park.
The promising youngster has been handed with regular opportunities and has been used in multiple attacking roles. The injury to Sigurdsson might lead to another start for the Englishman.
Has not been the same since returning from a long-term injury and changing flanks has not helped him much either. Yet, the Congolese international brings ‘good balance’ to Everton squad as per the manager and is set to retain his place for the weekend game.
The high-profile signing from Besiktas was having a barren run since his winter switch but scored against Burnley and Brighton. The Turkish hitman will be determined to continue the streak and end the season on a high, drawing an end to Everton’s striker conundrum.