Everton welcome a struggling Sunderland side looking for their first win after four consecutive Premier League draws on the bounce. Last week’s last-gasp concession against Fulham condemned the Toffees to their fourth 2-2 draw of the season, although it did increase their unbeaten league run to seven matches, leaving them fourth in the table above both West Brom and Tottenham on goal difference.
David Moyes could have the luxury of calling upon key midfielder Darron Gibson for the first time in eight games after the Ireland international resumed training after a persistent thigh problem. The return of Gibson will be much welcomed by both Moyes and the Everton fans alike, who have cited his absence for their side’s inability to hold onto leads of late. Elsewhere, Tony Hibbert is fit to return after a calf injury while both Kevin Miralles and Marouane Fellaini are now fully fit after their previous knocks.
Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side travel to Goodison Park as one of the poorest sides form-wise in the league at present. The Black Cats have only obtained one league win this season and sit in a precarious 16th position, only four points above the drop zone. Of key concern to O’Neill will be his side’s lack of goal threat, particularly when Steven Fletcher is not firing. Sunderland are currently the league’s lowest scorers, as well as possessing the division’s lowest amount of shots on target.
James McFadden could miss out on a trip to his former club with a hamstring problem while defenders West Brown and Titus Bramble are also doubts with knee and thigh problems respectively. Up front, O’Neill must decide where to persist with the out of form Stephane Sessegnon or partner Fletcher with a more conventional forward in the shape of Louis Saha.