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Everton looking to build momentum as they take on in-form Wolves

The Toffees welcome Nuno Espirito Santo’s upwardly mobile side to Goodison Park

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

An eventful week saw Everton scramble their way to a narrow victory at Huddersfield before overseeing a relatively quiet end to the January transfer window.

After last week’s debacle at The Den, any sort of win was welcome at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday so I’m not going to grumble at a 1-0 victory.

When a team is low on confidence and out of form they have to battle and scrap their way to results, which is what they did against the Terriers.

Now, let’s not get carried away. Huddersfield are comfortably the worst team in the league with an anaemic attack. But that didn’t stop them grabbing a point at Goodison earlier this season so three points on the road is most welcome.

Despite their dismal form Everton, amazingly, are only two points off seventh place, highlighting the dearth of quality in the division beyond the top six

Aiming to finish ‘best of the rest’ is not the most exciting of ambitions but, like it or not, it’s Everton’s only aim now. And let’s face it, if Everton DO finish seventh then this season, despite all its difficulties, will be considered a success.

We have to treat this as yet another season of transition and afford Marco Silva and Marcel Brands the time to get things right.

Huddersfield Town v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

That applies to action off the pitch as well as on it, with the deadline passing without much incident.

With little to play for, now isn’t the time for expensive panic buys that will further burden and already hefty wage bill.

Though we all like a bit of deadline day excitement, most Evertonians were content with what has been achieved over the past month.

The opposition

Three-times champions Wolves are rolling back this years this season as they look on course for their best league finish since the late 1970s.

The Black Country club enjoyed a golden era in the 1950s and 60s before a dramatic decline all the way to the fourth division in the 80s.

Now, under Chinese owners Fosun International, Wanderers look likely to be Premier League mainstays for some time to come.

Their unique relationship with agent Jorge Mendes has allowed them access to some of Europe’s finest young talent, particularly from Portugal, that otherwise may have gone elsewhere.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

The likes of Jonny Otto, Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota have impressed the season alongside experienced players such as Joao Moutinho and captain (and former Liverpool youth defender) Conor Coady.

They are also managed by the impressive former Porto goalkeeper Nuno Espirito Santo, another of Mendes clients.

They are currently two points ahead of Everton in seventh, which could make this game pretty signifiant in the final shake up.

Recent form suggests Wolves have a decent chance of taking all three points, though they will be mindful that they have only won once at Goodison Park in the last 40 years.

Team news

Silva has confirmed that Yerry Mina and Phil Jagielka will both miss this game through injury.

Leighton Baines is to be assessed after he was forced off against Huddersfield. Baines’ fitness is crucial given Lucas Digne is suspended following his red card in the same game.

Idrissa Gueye will also be monitored after he apparently picked up a minor injury before the Huddersfield game (or was it that PSG bid? who knows).

Projected line-up

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Coleman. Gomes, Sigurdsson, Davies, Richarlison, Lookman, Tosun.

Final word

Though ostensibly a mid-table encounter, Saturday’s game should also be a decent yardstick as to where Everton sit right now.

For me, Wolves are the best side out of that middle bunch of clubs so are likely to be the biggest challenge to seventh place (Leicester maybe aside).

A defeat would open up a five point gap which, given Everton’s inconsistencies, may be too much to bridge even with a third of the season still to go.

Win and Everton will, remarkably, be seventh again and the sense of panic, dread and gloom may just start to lift from above Goodison Park.