Sunderland will be hoping to take the confidence gained from another Tyne-Wear derby success into their trip to Goodison Park, where they have got the better of Everton in each of the last two seasons.
The home side will be intent on avoiding a third straight league defeat, having produced a poor showing in a comprehensive reverse against Manchester United and then conceded two sloppy goals in quick succession to ensure they came away with nothing from high-flying Arsenal. In midweek they lacked vibrancy again, but were able to eventually see their way past Norwich City and move into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
Manager Roberto Martinez has a largely settled squad, but he does not seem sure as to who he employs as the trio behind lone striker Romelu Lukaku. As the Sunderland defence struggles most against searing pace, he may decide to give the recently out-of-favour Kevin Mirallas a start, while Arouna Kone is continuing to command a starting place as he gains popularity among the Everton supporters. Each option has considerable quality, but the lack of continuity is potentially unsettling.
Up until first half stoppage time against arch rivals Newcastle United last weekend, Sunderland could have counted themselves extremely fortunate to still be on level terms having been a distant second best, but they surely could not have believed their luck when a late breakaway saw them awarded a penalty and the Magpies reduced to 10 men. Adam Johnson was accurate from the spot, and they were clinical after the break to win by a convincing margin.
It represented a fine first home game in charge for Sam Allardyce, who over the years has not counted either half of Merseyside as a happy hunting ground. That first half showed he has plenty to work on all over the pitch, but he will have been pleased by the manner in which his side took their chances and particularly the wonderfully worked third goal. A similar outcome here would raise hopes of another recovery, but defeat may see the pessimism on Wearside resurface.
Everton are without defender Phil Jagielka for two months after he was injured at Arsenal, and right-back Seamus Coleman is a major doubt. Leighton Baines and Muhamed Besic are nearing a return.
Fabio Borini is likely to miss out again for Sunderland, while they also have doubts over Younes Kaboul, Ola Toivonen and John O’Shea.
Last Meeting: Everton were the better side the majority of the game in May, but a smash and grab raid from Sunderland gave them a 2-0 win and moved them closer to Premier League safety. Danny Graham scored the opener eight minutes after half-time with his first goal for the club, diverting in a shot from Jordi Gomez. The clincher was similarly scruffy, with Jermain Defoe getting the final touch to Adam Johnson’s cross.
Played for both – James McFadden: The Scottish international had impressed as a youngster in Scotland, so David Moyes brought him to Everton in 2003. He never fully established himself as a regular in the starting line-up, but he did make 109 Premier League appearances and score 11 goals, playing a further seven times in a second spell at the club in 2012. His stay at Sunderland in 2012-13 was short-lived, appearing just three times in the league.
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