Everton are set to travel to the Stadium of Light for their final away game of the year. Their opponent will be a Sunderland squad that is yet again playing for their Premier League future. The Blues on the other hand appear to have given up on their manager and more disturbingly, themselves and look ready to have this season end.
The Toffees put forward yet another embarrassing display against Leicester City, giving up three goals and looking about as disinterested in playing as any team could. Roberto Martinez seems fresh out of ideas and shockingly enough, positivity for his squad. If any of the rumours can be believed, this could be Martinez's last game in charge of the Toffees.
Sunderland currently sit one point above Newcastle and the relegation zone and are participating in what seems like their yearly escape from going down.
While it may be obvious that Everton are the superior team talent wise, this Sunderland team has a knack for getting out of tough situations late in the season and have much more on the line than the floundering Toffees.
Everton's battered back line will have to contend with the likes of Jermain Defoe up top. The striker has put forward another excellent season at 33 years of age, notching 15 goals thus far. Sunderland's full backs may also prove to be a handful with the blistering speed of DeAndre Yedlin and Patrick van Aanholt.
Sunderland look to be relatively injury free at this late stage of the season. Only Lamine Kone and Billy Jones are listed on their injury report.
Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry are still listed as injured and should be considered game time decisions to play this week. Everton have greatly missed the trio and have looked out of sorts defensively without their veteran presence. Gerard Deulofeu will of course miss the remainder of the season along with Tyias Browning.
There is a bit of good news as Ramiro Funes Mori is eligible to play after serving his suspension for his red card against Liverpool.
The Final Word
Everton have nothing to play for, Sunderland have everything to play for. This sounds like a recipe for a loss if I ever heard one. On paper Everton should win, especially with the return of Funes Mori to the back line. However, it's nearly impossible to guess what collection of players Martinez will throw together to fill out the rest of his lineup. All signs point to Everton leaving the Stadium of Light with less than three points
Predicted Starting XI: Robles, Baines, Funes Mori, Stones, Oviedo, Besic, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Lennon, Lukaku