On Monday evening, Tony Pulis and his new club, West Bromwich Albion will be traveling to Goodison Park to face off against the Toffees for the second time this season. Their first encounter occurred near the start of the season on September 13th. The Blues left The Hawthorns with a 2-0 victory when Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku marked their names on the score sheet.
Each club's season has not gone according to plan and both will be looking to secure some much needed points. Matt Evans from ESPN FC's West Brom blog has taken some time to answer some of our questions ahead of the Blue's match against the Baggies:
RBM: Tony Pulis was just appointed manager on New Year's day after a surprise exit from Crystal Palace just before the start of the season. Just a couple of weeks in, are there any quick assessments of the new boss?
ME: He's made a very good first impression. Two official games in charge, albeit one against Gateshead, and two clean sheets, already show the impact Pulis is having in terms of organising a defence that was making too many mistakes previously. It's also obvious there will be far less of the meaningless spells of sideways passing with no cutting edge that were so common under Alan Irvine. His critics will call it a more direct approach, but if it keeps West Brom up, he won't have many critics at The Hawthorns.
RBM: We're in the middle of the January transfer window. Is there anyone on the market or linked with the club that you would consider a good fit?
ME: Someone like Rickie Lambert would suit Albion down to the ground, a target man who could also ease the goal-scoring burden on Saido Berahino. Signing at least one winger is a must, Aaron Lennon would be a great addition but he'll probably have bigger fish to try than a relegation battle at West Brom.
RBM: Saido Berahino has had an interesting up and down season so far; scoring six goals in five games then going eleven without notching one and now he has six in his past three matches. It may be difficult to predict, but what are his prospects for the rest of the campaign?
ME: With his court case now behind him, and the transfer speculation dying down, I think Berahino will be far more like the player that earned him an England call-up in October. Although it's unlikely he'll maintain a record of two goals a game like the run he's currently on, it's not inconceivable that he will get to at least 15 Premier League goals for the season.
RBM: Much like Everton, the Baggies have had difficulty securing points this season and they currently sit at fourteenth in the table (one point behind the Toffees). How do you see the rest of the season playing out? Should supporters be concerned about relegation?
ME: I feel a lot more confident about staying in the Premier League for another year with Pulis in charge instead of Alan Irvine. Relegation is always a concern, most of the teams in that part of the table can beat each other on any given weekend. It probably won't be pretty but Pulis will turn 1-0 defeats into 0-0 draws, and 0-0 draws into 1-0 wins, and that's all West Brom need.
RBM: What are your keys to victory on Monday evening and what is your predicted outcome?
ME: The key will be the performance of ex-Everton man Joleon Lescott who will be tasked with keeping former Albion man Romelu Lukaku quiet. Kevin Mirallas is also a quality player who West Brom will need to watch closely, particularly with our weakness in the full back position. Attacking wise, Stephane Sessegnon and Berahino are the two players Albion rely on to create and score goals.
I think West Brom will put in a decent performance, but still see Everton coming away with the win, I'll go 2-1 Everton.
Thanks to Matt for taking the time to give us some insight from the other side. Let's hope for an exciting match and a good showing from both clubs.