Match Date/Time: Wednesday, December 3rd 19:45 GMT, 2:45 EST
TV Info (Via Live Soccer TV)
Everton go into Wednesday's match with Hull City after a loss to Tottenham that they will surely want to bounce back from. The loss ended an unbeaten streak of eight games (across all competitions), and Roberto Martinez's squad will be looking to get back on the winning side. Hull City will offer that opportunity in the first of a seven-match December (with an eighth on January 1st).
Antolin Alcaraz, Darron Gibson, James McCarthy, and John Stones remain on the long-term injury list for the Toffees.
Martinez gave an update on Tuesday, and reported that James McCarthy would not be able to play against Hull. Here's what the manager said about the Irishman's nagging hamstring:
"There has been a little bit of a re occurrence. It's not a major problem and is down to the amount of games he has had to play. He's a young man - albeit he is already very experienced - and we need to find the right formula for him with the training exposure and being able to cope with all the games in such a busy season."
The boss also said that it's a possibility that Steven Naismith could play tomorrow:
"I wouldn't say he is not going to be ready for tomorrow - he has got an outside chance. I will be keeping it until the last second to keep an eye on him regarding his involvement in the game."
Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, and Kevin Mirallas all made recent returns to the starting lineup, and the assumption is that they are all near full health.
Hull are currently in 17th place on the Premier League table, just above the relegation zone. The club have only won twice this season, the last victory coming in October over Crystal Palace, and the first was on opening day at Queens Park Rangers. Hull's last four matches have been losses.
Manager Steve Bruce brings his side to Goodison Park looking for a positive result to give his team and the fans some sort of confidence going forward. Nikica Jelavic will return to Merseyside after spending the last two seasons with Everton. The Croatian shares the goal lead with Mohamed Diame, both with four.
What to Watch For
With seven matches in December, Roberto Martinez will have to be cautious while making his lineup, especially with the issue of depth causing problems for Everton throughout the 2014-15 campaign. That being said, he should field a strong starting 11 to try to get an early advantage against the reeling Hull.
Bruce often assembles his squad in a 3-5-2, which could spell danger if Ross Barkley, Samuel Eto'o, or Kevin Mirallas can link up with Romelu Lukaku and find space in front of goal. Of course, it is unlikely that all four will start, and Barkley has found it difficult to return to form playing out wide instead of the traditional number 10 position.
The Blues defense was again questioned after surrendering two goals on Sunday in London. Though the team had only allowed two goals in the previous five fixtures and maintained an eight-game unbeaten streak, a disappointing loss brings back memories of early-season defensive woes.
Everton felt the absence of James McCarthy against Tottenham, as Muhamed Besic and the recently-returned Gareth Barry were exposed in the defensive midfield by Spurs' attack. Evertonians will hope that the two can gain confidence on Wednesday, especially in light of absences and suspensions in the Hull City offense.
It seems that Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka are beginning to play according to preseason expectations, and the return of Baines and Coleman will only help that process.
A clean sheet would go a long way to silence critics of Tim Howard, who many felt didn't do well enough in his efforts to stop the two Tottenham goals.
The Final Word
Everton and Hull City both need a win, but the home team are clearly the stronger of the two. If Roberto Martinez starts a reasonably strong side, and the Toffees can grab an early goal and continue to play aggressively with the lead, Everton will walk away from Goodison Park with three points.