After an excellent 2013, Everton begin the New Year with a testing trip to beleaguered Stoke City on Wednesday.
Since their defeat of Aston Villa on December 21, Stoke’s festive period has turned sour after two heavy away losses. Anger and frustration followed the game at Newcastle United on Boxing Day, but on Sunday Mark Hughes had no complaints as his side were outplayed by Tottenham. These two results have seen them drop into the bottom half, so defeat here could leave them just a couple of points clear of danger.
Everton recovered from their unexpected defeat to rock-bottom Sunderland by producing an inventive display to beat Southampton. Every member of the team is performing to a high standard, and with Leighton Baines back from injury, they now look back to full strength. On the other side of the pitch from Baines, Seamus Coleman has truly emerged and his recent exploits have threatened to turn the attention away from Ross Barkley.
Stoke welcome back Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson, who were both sent off on Boxing Day, but goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and defender Robert Huth remain sidelined.
The visitors could recall the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar, while Tim Howard and Gareth Barry return from suspension. Phil Jagielka will be out of action for a month, however, joining Darron Gibson, Tony Hibbert and Arouna Kone on the injury list.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Stoke