Everton at home on Saturday evening as we return to the Premier League this weekend.
In the days of David Moyes & Martin Jol, Everton used to be our natural foes in the battle for fifth place as we watched Sky’s Big Four squabble above us. Thanks to Levy and Poch things have moved on though and whilst we currently lie in the aforementioned fifth, it’s not the Toffees we’re worried about as contenders for our less than coveted Europa League place.
Everton currently lie ninth, in a Leicester Watford sandwich and until recently had their attention more focussed on what was going on below rather than above. The arrival of Big Sam ten games ago shored up the defence quicker than even his ego would’ve predicted and mid table security seems to have been rapidly secured.
Applying the Tena pants to the defence has come at a cost though as shots have become rarer than at an AA meeting. No attempts on target were registered in either recent game against Chelsea or Man Utd and only one at Anfield last Friday but a saviour has arrived from the East in the shape of German born Turk Cenk Tosun who should make his debut in this game.
He may find his first appearance in Royal Blue a lonely one as there’s little doubt that Allardyce’s plans will mostly involve shape, tucking in, time wasting and bus parking and why not given the relative success of other sides who’ve come to Wembley with those tactics this season?
Everton aren’t short of flair – Rooney, Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson, Vlasic, Bolasie, Niasse and Aaron Lennon of course. Whether or not the School of Science will be allowed past the Dogs of War is a different matter.
We’re in good spirits despite the disappointing result against West Ham. Pochettino used last week’s cup game to try a few things out, Kane and Llorente up top, Walker-Peters at left back, a solid looking midfield of Wanyama, Sissoko and Dembele and will be mostly encouraged by the results but probably not enough to change anything major for this game. He has a decision to make over whether to play with four or five at the back but apart from that we can expect the normal quartet up front with Wanyama, Dembele and possibly AN Other (depending on formation) in midfield. If Aurier keeps getting the nod over Trippier (which he should) the latter may start to feel that his days are numbered especially with KWP doing so well whenever he plays.
Oh, for an early goal. The atmosphere lifts, the players lift and the whole thing becomes less of a chore. With Liverpool hosting Citeh it’s a big game for us in our efforts to keep in touch with the top four. For them it’s a big game as after a few early good results, a loss here would make it look like the Toffees were becoming unstuck.
Craig Pawson is the ref, only the second time we’ve seen him this season, the other being the loss at Middle Eastlands last month.
I really hope Aaron Lennon makes an appearance, it’d be great to be able to show him some love.