Everton will have to brave both a desperate Stoke City side as well as the weather conditions on Saturday as they look to get just their second away win of the season. Ahead of the game, manager Sam Allardyce provided an injury update for the Toffees.
Idrissa Gueye, who missed the win over Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend with an illness, is fit and will be back in the squad. Theo Walcott left the game late with a cramp, and he has regained full fitness as well.
“Theo has had a big impact for us, as well as Cenk who is now scoring the goals. If we can increase our final-third quality even more, they will provide and score even more goals.
“There is only one thing we really have to put right, that is away results. Our past three home games were exactly the same.
“The level of performance of the players was the key element as to why we won those matches. That level has let us down away from home. If we perform at our top level we have every chance and are more than capable of getting a result [at Stoke].
“We put ourselves in a position in our past two away games to get positive results and we would not find ourselves in such a difficult position away from home if we had achieved those.
“But those are the small margins and defining lines. When that chance comes your way to put yourself in a position to win the game and you do not take it – or if you are in a position to win the game but allow the opposition to score from your mistakes [you get punished] and that is the key element we have to cut out.”
Saturday was the first game of the season for the Blues with the pairing of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines as the fullbacks, and the difference was clearly visible as the Blues were much more incisive and determined in possession, though the quality in the final third was still lacking.
“Most importantly, they give us a better balance in the side. They provide more and more service to the midfield and the front lads. And that is with all due respect to Cuco Martina and Jonjoe Kenny, who have both done a fantastic job in difficult times.
“These guys are massively experienced Everton players and top internationals in their own right. They have had many years at the Club and have a lot of passion and desire to do well for Everton, which hopefully rubs off on the other players.
“As hard as they have trained, their match fitness is not at the same level as the other players. They have to use their experience and continue to play to get back up to that level. And if they do that, I am sure they will get even better from here on in.”