A manic week at work means this match has crept up on me, but it is encouraging to see though that a win can see Everton creep up on the top six..........
After another shaky start to the season we can be pretty content with life at the moment. A morale building win over Birmingham set up that fantastic win over Liverpool before we followed that up with a decent away point at Spurs.
Now though we need to press home the advantage gained from those results by beating Stoke, something we failed to do at Goodison last year. In fact that game, in October, was among a series of winnable home games we failed to take three points from, which led to a inevitable slide down the table.
If we want to qualify for Europe we need to win games like this. With due respect to Stoke, they are a battling side with a sprinkling of quality, but we should be beating teams like them at Goodison.
They will bring their loud, rowdy fans with them, who are clearly enjoying life in the Premier League. The game last season felt like a FA Cup match they were so excited, I wonder if they will be so enthusiastic if they are still in the top flight in five years???
Anyway..... early team news suggest that Mikel Arteta will have a late fitness test on the hamstring injury that forced him to miss the Spurs game. Osman is out till next month while Jack Rodwell is also still ruled out.
For Stoke Kenwyne Jones and Jermaine Pennant have been suffering from flu-like symptoms and were given Thursday off in a bid to speed their recovery.
Predictions? We SHOULD win, but knowing Everton is is far from a forgone conclusion. I am hoping the Yak will be rewarded for his improved performances in recent weeks with a goal. He has looked fitter than at anytime in yjr âst 18 months and it would be great to see him on the goal trail again.
• Stoke have not beaten Everton since December 1982 - a run of nine games.
• This is the 117th meeting between the sides. Everton lead by 57 wins to 29, with 30 draws.
• Everton are unbeaten in four league games.
• It's 33 games since Everton lost by more than one goal (a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool last November).
• Tim Cahill is one goal short of 50 in the Premier League.
• Phil Neville will be making his 600th club career appearance, while Leighton Baines will be making his 100th Premier League appearance for Everton.
• Stoke's extra-time Carling Cup defeat at West Ham on Wednesday was their third loss in a row.
• Stoke have trailed at half-time in eight of their nine league matches this season.
• Stoke have hit the woodwork seven times in the Premier League this season, more than any other team.
• Danny Higginbotham - who signed a one-year contract extension this week - could make his 100th league appearance for Stoke.