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Everton at Stoke City: Match Preview

Can Roberto Martinez turn things around at the Britannia?

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

When and Where: March 4th, 19.45 GMT, the Britannia stadium

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Everton lost to Stoke at Goodison Park on Boxing Day, and they will find it tough again at the Britannia if Roberto Martinez doesn't find a way to get some domestic form.

Team News:

Leighton Baines will be having a late fitness test, but even if he doesn't make it Luke Garbutt should be able to deputise ably. Bryan Oviedo continues on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, and Christian Atsu remains suffering an illness. Long term absentees Steven Pienaar, Tony Hibbert, and Aiden McGeady won't be able to return for a week or two.

The Opposition:

The Potters aren't the 'hoof it' team of the past with Mark Hughes in charge, but that doesn't mean that they aren't just as hard to beat. They have lost just three of their last 13 league fixtures, with the defeats all against top four opposition. Stephen Ireland is the only new injury problem for them, and it is likely Charlie Adam will come in to replace him.

What To Watch For:

We have been performing better away from home than at Goodison Park this campaign, but even so results have been fairly dire. The team will need to find some sort of form in order to win on Wednesday, and it is unlikely that Martinez will play as defensively as he did against Arsenal in this encounter. Expect one of Muhamed Besic, Gareth Barry, or James McCarthy to make way in midfield, and maybe the introduction of Aaron Lennon on one of the wings.

Romelu Lukaku was unlucky not to score at the Emirates, and hopefully this won't have quelled the small surge in form he has experienced over the last few weeks. Goals from the Belgian would calm a lot of the boo boys. On the other end of the scale Kevin Mirallas has been displaying some of his well known faults (selfishness, running in to dead ends) in recent games, so don't be surprised to see him starting on  the bench. However, Tim Howard will likely get another chance in goal, what will it take for him to be dropped?

Stoke will likely make it more of a physical encounter than we tend to enjoy in midfield, and this could be where the match is won or lost. Luckily they don't really have the players to counter attack quickly, so the repeated visions of Phil Jagielka being out paced may stop for a week.

The Final Word:

After the disappointing season so far it is hard to predict a victory at one of the toughest away grounds in the Premier League. With this in mind I think a draw could be the most likely result, leaving the Blues still hovering just above the relegation scrap. On the other hand, maybe the side will 'click' and everything will  be fine. No, I didn't think so either.