Everton at Stoke City: Match Preview

Nikica Jelavic holds off Basil Fawlty - Jamie McDonald

A tough fixture awaits Everton as they travel to Stoke City on Saturday. You can bet Steven Gerrard will be riveted to the telly watching two of his favorite long-ball teams go head-to-head.

After just their second win in the last ten games, Everton will aim to continue the good form at the Britannia against Stoke City. Tony Pulis' side have been fantastic in defence, with only giants Juventus and Bayern Munich having conceded fewer goals in Europe. Then again, it's easier to keep opponents out when you have ten men behind the ball for about eighty five minutes each weekend.

Pulis has long said that he is an admirer of David Moyes, and the two will come up against each other again on Saturday. Moyes leads the series with 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses, though the last time the Toffees won at the Britannia was in 2008. The Potters are unbeaten at home this season, and have only conceded two goals in that period. With winger Kevin Mirallas out, Moyes will have to come up with some more creative ways to breach the Stoke defence.

Team News -

Moyes was handed the double blow on Friday that both Mirallas and Tony Hibbert faced an extended period on the sidelines. Team captain Phil Neville and Victor Anichebe are also going to be out for a while.

Charlie Adam returns from suspension for Pulis, but Ryan Shotton will miss the game after his sending off last weekend. Also out for Stoke are Michael Owen, Rory Delap and Marc Wilson.

Keys To The Game -

Without Mirallas, Everton's game lose quite a bit of incisiveness on the right side which allows defending teams to focus on shutting down the Everton left. Bryan Oviedo might be a more aggressive choice for right winger, but expect Moyes to play it safe on the road and play Steven Naismith.

Premier League November Player of the Month Marouane Fellaini's battle against the Robert Huth - Ryan Shawcross central defensive pairing will be the key battle of the game. After a bruising battle with the Spurs defence last weekend, this will be more of the same for Nikica Jelavić, and the onus will be on Steven Pienaar to pop up again with a goal or two, and on Leon Osman to not be as wasteful either.

Stoke City's game plan is pretty straightforward - ten men behind the ball at all times, with either Peter Crouch or Kenywyne Jones the only man up top. Jonathan Walters has long been a thorn in Moyes' side, and will provide additional support for the sole striker. Adam also provides another outlet and will be relied on to deliver during setpieces, which are a main strength for the Potters.

Match Facts -

  • Everton and Stoke lead the League in draws, both have eight this season.
  • The Toffees have gained 14 pts from losing positions, only surpassed by the Manchester clubs.
  • Saturday will mark goalie Tim Howard's 200th consecutive Premier League appearance for Everton.
  • Phil Jagielka has conceded two own goals at the Britannia Stadium as an Everton player.
  • Stoke are unbeaten at home for the last fifteen games in the League, stretching back to last season.
  • They have also scored only seven goals in their seven home games this year.

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