Everton will be looking for their third Premier League win in a row when they play host to a West Bromwich Albion side that needs points to avoid being dragged into a battle to avoid relegation.
A dominant display against Newcastle United that saw two late penalties give their winning margin a comprehensive look, may just have been the catalyst for a strong final few months of the season for Everton, who have hit back brilliantly after being harshly denied a place in the final of the Capital One Cup. For they then set about putting mid-table rivals Stoke City to the sword, carving them open on numerous occasions and emerging once again as convincing winners.
The only regret manager Roberto Martinez had after that game at the Britannia Stadium was that his side did not add to their tally and take more of the chances that came their way, but it was a highly impressive result all the same. As for this one, West Brom are likely to be a tougher unit to break down, but so many of the Toffees’ attacking players are in fine form with Ross Barkley showing real confidence and Aaron Lennon a somewhat rare goalscoring touch to match his undoubted ability.
A six point cushion above the bottom three means that there is no reason to panic yet for the visitors, but they will be concerned over recent performances as for the most part they have lacked a serious goal threat. That their most recent league outing ended in defeat to struggling Newcastle United does mean that the Baggies will be looking a little over their shoulders, and here they face a stiff test if they are to keep out a side showing such fluidity going forward.
There was a real paucity of a cutting edge on Tyneside in a display that Head Coach Tony Pulis described as the worst of his tenure to date, but that assessment was mainly due to the absence of the solid defensive shape for which they are so well known for these days. It all unravelled for the game’s decisive goal as Gareth McAuley was caught badly out of position to allow Aleksandar Mitrovic a simple finish, while only wastefulness from their opponents saved West Brom from a heavier loss.
Tim Howard and John Stones could miss out again for Everton, who are definitely without the services of midfielder Muhamed Besic.
West Brom may make changes after being taken all the way to penalties by Peterborough United in the FA Cup on Wednesday, but have a defensive crisis as Gareth McAuley is out and three others are doubtful.
Last Meeting: Tony Pulis was the architect of a determined rearguard action that saw West Brom soak up home pressure throughout and emerge with the goalless draw they came for. Everton struggled to create too many meaningful chances, but missed the chance to win it in the first half when Kevin Mirallas struck a penalty kick against a post after taking the responsibility away from regular taker Leighton Baines.