With Everton running out of time to make up the margin on the teams ahead of them. Two draws at Tottenham and at Arsenal prolonged their challenge, but at the same time left them with a lot of work yet to do to overhaul the three London sides ahead of them.
Sunderland finally won for the first time in ten games last weekend, beating their hated rivals Newcastle 3-0 in a rousing win under new manager Paulo Di Canio. This resuscitated their campaign for Premier League survival and the crowd should be up for it on Saturday to mark the Italian manager's first home game.
Team News -
Everton have no suspensions to worry about this weekend, though Leon Osman remains an injury worry while Tony Hibbert has almost made a full return to the squad after recovering from his ailments. Though with the kind of form Seamus Coleman has been in, it's hard to see where Hibbert could fit in.
For Di Canio, two key players in Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole are done for the season while Craig Gardner is serving the second game of his two-game suspension. Defender Wes Brown is still injured while young striker Connor Wickham, Titus Bramble and Phil Bardsley could all miss out.
Keys To The Game -
Facing a hostile and raucous home crowd, Everton will do well to eliminate the crowd from the game by seizing the game from the get-go. They need to retain possession, make the home side chase the ball and definitely not concede a silly early goal. Leighton Baines has looked increasingly tired in recent weeks and the onus will be on Coleman to keep the Black Cats defence on their heels.Youngster Ross Barkley was unlucky not to mark his start against Arsenal with a goal, and should retain his place in the team.
With last weekend's win, Sunderland is buzzing again and the team will look to feed off the energy and put Everton under pressure earlier in the game. Di Canio's side have no room for error with how close they are to the drop zone, and the manager will be looking for the team to step up their physical intensity, in much the same way Everton clattered Arsenal in the midweek game.
Match Facts -
- David Moyes has never lost to Sunderland in eleven year tenure at Everton.
- Everton have gone nineteen games in all competitions remaining unbeaten against Sunderland.
- The Toffees have now kept clean sheets in four of their last five games.
- The Black Cats have not won at home for five games, stretching back to January.