With a FA Cup final to look forward to next week, Steve Bruce’s side might put tomorrow’s Everton encounter to one side. However there is a certain Croatian cup-tied striker who definitely won’t have.
Everton favourite Nikica Jelavic made the move to the Tigers in January for reported fee potentially rising to £7-8million. His last game for the Toffees against QPR in the FA Cup meant that he is now cup-tied for next week’s Wembley clash with Arsenal. So even though most of Hull, both the team and the city, will have the final on their minds Jelavic and also his fellow cup-tied striker Shane Long will be looking to bow out of the 2013/14 campaign with a bang.
The first season under Roberto Martinez has gone superbly despite a sour ending with three defeats in the last four to demolish a Champions League challenge with Arsenal. Everton had their fifth place finish secured when Tottenham were beaten by West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground last week, hours before the Blues’ clash with Manchester City.
For the hosts, Robbie Brady and James Chester will miss the final Premier League game of the season with groin and hamstring injuries, respectively. Paul McShane returns to the Hull City squad for the first time since February after recovering from an ankle injury. Amazingly, Allan McGregor has also returned to the Tigers’ squad and is in line to start to prove his fitness ahead of next week’s final. The former Rangers keeper broke three ribs and damaged a kidney six weeks ago but has been working extremely hard in the treatment room to return for the cup final.
The fixture has come just too soon for the return of Everton’s Darron Gibson from the knee injury he suffered in October but Gareth Barry returns having been ineligible for last Saturday’s clash with his parent club Manchester City. Steven Pienaar has recovered from his knee injury and returns the Blues squad after a 10-game lay-off. Also returning to the squad is Lacina Traore, who could be in line to make his second appearance for the Toffees since his loan move in January. Everton are still without Arouna Kone with a knee injury, Bryan Oviedo with his ankle and Kevin Mirallas with his groin. Apostolos Vellios is again in the Everton squad and could make his final appearance in Everton shirt, as the Greek is out of contract from the summer.
Goalkeepers: Harper and McGregor.
Defenders: Bruce, Davies, Faye, Figueroa, McShane and Rosenior.
Midfielders: Aluko, Boyd, Elmohamady, Huddelstone, Koren, Livermore, Meyler and Quinn.
Forwards: Fryatt, Jelavic, Long and Sagbo.
Goalkeepers: Howard and Robles
Defenders: Alcaraz, Baines, Coleman, Distin, Garbutt, Hibbert, Jagielka and Stones.
Midfielders: Barkley, Barry, Deulofeu, Ledson, McCarthy, McGeady, Osman and Pienaar.
Forwards: Lukaku, Naismith, Traore and Vellios.
In the last five Premier League encounters between the two of these sides, Hull have only won one.
Although the Toffees haven’t had much of a chance, the last league win they’ve had away at Hull was back in August 1953 – a 3-1 victory in the old Division Two.
Nikica Jelavic has scored 16 in 59 league games in an Everton shirt before signing for Hull in January.
Steve Bruce’s side have lost five of their last eight league home games, only winning two and drawing the other.
In their final game of the last two Hull seasons in the Premier League; they have not scored.
Steve Bruce’s side have already surpassed their best ever Premier League points tally, with 37 points.
Hull City have never won a Premier League game in May – in the eight they have played they have drew three and lost five.
The Tigers would be bottom by two points if the league was only counted for the second half of the season.
Hull have won the joint-second lowest points in the Premier League in 2014 alongside Norwich with 14 – Cardiff have the lowest with 12 points.
The Blues have also surpassed their best ever Premier League points tally with the 69 points they have already accumulated and a win would see them acclaim their best points total in a season since last winning the title in the 1986/87 season with 86 points.
Everton’s defenders have scored 13 goals, the highest in the league.
The Toffees have won five of the last six Sunday Premier League games they’ve played.
With nothing more to gain out of this campaign it would be nice to sign off the season in style without it being as imperative to do so that it perhaps should be. If I was a betting man I’d have some money on Romelu Lukaku scoring in probably his final game in an Everton shirt; as for West Brom he bowed out the Hawthorns with a hat-trick. Whatever happens tomorrow, Evertonians can regard this season as an extremely successful one in terms of progression because year ago the end of the season was filled with worry with David Moyes leaving and it looking as though the squad was ageing. After Sunday’s fixture, the hard work begins, in what surely is the most important transfer window since the Toffees finished fourth.