Off to West Bromwich Albion we go. On a Monday night. For a game on TV. For those Blues that can’t make the game regularly this is another chance to see how the team have improved this season under Roberto Martinez and although they have a mixed recent record against the Baggies at the Hawthorns - two wins and four defeats in the last six meetings - we can go there with no trepidation. It is the first game for new West Brom boss Pepe Mel, and we all know what effect a fresh pair of hands can have on a club. Despite that we have nothing to fear.
First the bad news, and we all know it, Ross Barkley is out for a while with a knackered toe, and we missed his creativity last week. We’re still missing long term injury victims Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone, and paper machete man Anton Alcaraz is still out with a muscle injury. In better news though central defensive speed monster Sylvain Distin is back in the squad, although he faces a challenge to dislodge the youngster John Stones, and new wing wizard Aiden McGeady looks likely to be on the bench despite looking like he’d enjoyed a couple of Big Macs whilst being on gardening leave. We have heard very positive reports on his fitness from the training camp in Tenerife though; even so it would be a surprise to see him go straight into the first eleven.
Keys to the game
Mel vs. Martinez is the intriguing main plot this week, good friends, countrymen, and with similar footballing philosophies, much will depend on how quickly Mel has been able to get his ideas across, and how with Roberto counter that or will the Blues just play their normal game.
The form of Romelu Lukaku has been slightly questionable of late but he'll be keen to show just what West Brom are missing this season, especially now that Shane Long has also left. Potentially the most important aspect of this game will be the wide play, both team have decent wingers, with the Baggies widement slightly more consistent.
Everton have lost one of their last fourteen Premier League games
West Brom have won one of their last eleven Premier League games
Pass success rates, West Brom = 78%, Everton = 84%
Percentage of passes that have been classed as short, West Brom = 81%, Everton = 83%
Seamus Coleman has 5 goals, more than the West Brom top scorer Saido Berahino, who has 4 goals