Everton vs. Sunderland: Match Preview

Will Moyes' Everton finally unleash on Sunderland tomorrow? - Clive Brunskill

With four straight draws, Everton are quickly losing the momentum that they started the season with. A home game against Sunderland should be what the doctor ordered to set things right, right?

David Moyes must be beside himself - his Everton side have been dominating possession, creating chances by the bucketful and overall playing good football, yet they gathered just four points from their last four fixtures. But still they find themselves in fourth place in the table. And tomorrow's game marks Moyes' 400th in charge of Everton in the Premier League. Lots of 4's right? The Black Cats have never beaten Moyes during his tenure at Goodison, but Everton are (in)famous for bottling matches like this.

Martin O'Neill has frustrated Everton in the past as gaffer at Aston Villa with just one loss in ten previous encounters, and will be looking to do more of the same on Saturday. Sunderland find themselves in the strange situation of having nothing to lose at the quarter pole of the Premier League race, and will provide Everton with a few challenges. The Wearsiders have only managed six goals this term, with five coming from Steven Fletcher and an own goal accounting for the other - when James McFadden and Louis Saha are part of your strike force then situations like this are not unheard of, ask any Evertonian. Like with any other O'Neill side though, Sunderland's defence has been pretty impressive having conceded only nine goals, which has helped the team eke out six draws out of ten games.

Team News -

Not much change here, as Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson and Victor Anichebe are all out of this game. Hibbert and Gibson are in training and should be back next week, while Anichebe has tweaked a hamstring and is day-to-day. John Heitinga had a pretty decent outing against Fulham in central defence and will probably keep Sylvain Distin out again.

O'Neill doesn't have any new injury issues to contend with apart from long term concerns Wes Brown and Titus Bramble. But with his team so woefully out of form, he might look to make some changes just to freshen things up. Danny Rose, David Vaughan, Frazier Campbell and Saha might all be handed starts to mix things up on the pitch.

Keys To The Game -

Attack attack attack. This needs to be an all-out attacking game of the nature unheard of since the Liverpool Blitz in 1940 (apologies for the War reference, no offence meant). While Sunderland do possess an attacking threat on the counter in the form of Stephane Sessegnon, Everton need to control the game from the get-go. Hold the ball, pass it around, get the visitors bent out of shape and then strike. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman need to be swinging in crosses all day, and with Steven Pienaar and debutant England call-up Leon Osman lurking outside the box, the ball needs to be continually recycled from clearances. Nikica Jelavić hasn't scored in three games, here's his chance to get back in the act.

For Sunderland, they know a barrage is coming. While O'Neill has stated he will not sit back and absorb pressure, the Mackems will be forced to do just that and will rely heavily on outlet balls to Seb Larsson and Adam Johnson who will attempt to find Sessegnon and top scorer Fletcher. Carlos Cuellar and John O'Shea have been strong in the middle of defence and will look to negate the height and strength of Marouane Fellaini while Simon Mignolet in goal has often had wonder-games against Everton.

Match Facts -

  • Everton have not lost to Sunderland in 17 games, including 12 wins.
  • The last time Sunderland won at Goodison was in 1996, a 3-1 win, under Peter Reid.
  • A 7-1 win over the Mackems in 2007 is Moyes' biggest win as Everton manager.
  • Sunderland have managed just thirteen shots on goal this season, lowest in Europe.
  • The Toffees have hit the woodwork eleven times this season, highest in the League.
  • Conversely, Sunderland have not struck the goal frame as yet this season.

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