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Everton at Bournemouth: Match Preview

Roberto Martinez and co. travel to the South coast in an attempt to prolong their good run against Eddie Howe's struggling Premier League newcomers...

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

After comprehensive victories over Aston Villa and Sunderland, Everton have a chance to continue their charge up the Premier League table against struggling Bournemouth.

The Toffees need to keep their momentum going as they head in to a Capital One Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough and a busy Christmas schedule against teams they'll be expected to beat.

The Opposition

Despite playing some nice football, the Cherries have been struggling to make an impact in the top flight. Last week they surrendered a 2-0 lead over fellow bottom half side Swansea City, and they haven't managed a win since a 2-0 victory over Sunderland in September.

Indeed, the promoted side's expansive style should play in to Roberto Martinez's hands. Tactically Bournemouth are similar to the Blues, but with inferior players. The fact that Sylvain Distin - as good as he was - is getting game time should give our attack bags of confidence.

However, the Blues will have to be wary of players such as Harry Arter and Matt Ritchie, who are both technically accomplished midfielders. Eddie Howe will, however, be missing the services of Marc Pugh, and long-term absentees Tommy Elphick, Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings, and Max Gradel.

Team News

Leighton Baines could return for the fixture, but judging from Martinez's comments he will be eased back in to action. The emergence of Brendan Galloway means that the Toffees now have the luxury of this, when in prior seasons the England international may have been rushed back in.

Except from the left-back, there are still a few lingering injury issues. Muhamed Besic is fully recovered, but Steven Pienaar, Tony Hibbert, and Bryan Oviedo will all be unavailable.

The Final Word

Everton go in to this encounter in good form, and should be looking to punish the increasingly leaky Bournemouth back line. With the Cherries both at home and known for an expansive style, this should be well within the ability of Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu, and Ross Barkley.

It is possible that Martinez will rest some players for this match with the Middlesbrough clash on the horizon, but it is unlikely. It is more likely that he will want to keep the momentum going in the league, before perhaps giving players such as Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, and Tom Cleverley a go in the Cup. The fact that such high-class players are ready to come in should mean there are no worries whichever way round he decides to do it.

A win could take the Blues above West Ham and in to the top six, an important step in the season. As such, it is likely to be an unchanged XI from that which faced Aston Villa and Sunderland, but perhaps with more tactical onus on counter-attacking as they are away from home.

Predicted Everton starting line-up: Howard, Galloway, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Barry, McCarthy, Barkley, Kone, Deulofeu, Lukaku.