Match Preview: Everton v Stoke City
Stoke head to Goodison Park on Saturday for the first time since last year’s 4-3 thriller during the Christmas period. In which: Shaqiri got his first (and astounding second) goals for the club, £45m-man-to-be John Stones conceded a last minute penalty to allow Stoke to take home the three points and Joselu shared some of that love with the official that awarded the spot kick… Interesting move to say the least! Much will have changed this season with Everton having a complete rehaul since Roberto Martinez’s departure, but something that hasn’t changed is Stoke’s inconsistent fortunes, conceding four in one and scoring four in the other of their last two games.
Kick Off: Saturday 27/08 @ 15:00
Match Odds (as of 6pm the previous day): H: 8/11 – D: 11/4 – A: 9/2
Last Season: 3-4 [Lukaku (2), Deulofeu; Shaqiri (2), Joselu, Arnautovic (pen)]
Ronald Koeman has taken over the Toffees since their last game against Stoke and he’s been active in the transfer market in preparation for applying his brand of football on his new club. Those of note coming into Everton include Maarten Stekelenburg, Ashley Williams and Idrissa Gueye; they’ve also had a lot of departures but the most significant of those will be John Stones to Manchester City to become the most second expensive defender of all time. Koeman will want to improve Everton’s defensive record under Martinez, so perhaps we are not in for the same seven goal thriller that we were treated to last time at Goodison. However, Stoke have won three times in the last five at Goodison, including the more recent two.
Jack Butland and Glen Johnson have been given further time to recover from their respective injuries, meanwhile Xherdan Shaqiri will be given up until kick off to prove his fitness despite his native team’s management suspecting Shaqiri could be out for weeks. Peter Crouch’s hat trick midweek is likely to be enough to earn a rare Premier League start. This could be enough to send current forward Mame Diouf to the right wing, however Bojan may keep his place in that position or even Ramadan, who impressed in his cameo on Tuesday, may fill the Shaqiri vacancy. Aside from that, the team is likely to be the one that started against Man City a week ago.
Predicted XI: (4,3,3) Given; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Allen, Imbula; Bojan, Crouch, Arnautovic
Ones to Watch
Everton – Yannick Bolasie: the £25m man could make his first Premier League for Everton having started in their 4-0 cup victory against Yeovil. He’ll want to get off on the front foot for his new team and could cause problems for Stoke’s fullbacks.
Stoke – Joe Allen: The obvious pick here should be Crouch after his midweek hat trick. However it’s been the Welsh Pirlo who’s been pulling the strings since his arrival and looks pivotal in terms of breaking down opposition attacks and initiating chances for his own side.
Written by Ben Rowley
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