As Everton prepare to face Sunderland at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon, they will be looking to push forward in the Premier League after progressing to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals in midweek.
Spanish boss Roberto Martinez will be delighted with his side’s victory over Norwich City on Tuesday night – the Toffees progressing 4-3 on penalties after the sides could not be separated (1-1) in 90 minutes plus extra time.
It is an added boost of confidence for a side that have won just one of its last five games, with defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks – despite some promising performances.
“In the derby they were very good”
– Roberto Martinez
Martinez, speaking ahead of the visit from Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, has spoken at length on the impact a new manager can have on a team’s performances, describing the Black Cats 3-0 Wear-Tyne derby win over Newcastle United as being “very good”. Indeed, Allardyce’s arrival has prompted a renewed sense of belief in Sunderland – who are struggling in 18th place in the league table, with just six points – but Martinez remains confident that all at Goodison “know the strengths of [the] Sunderland side”.
Weathered the storm?
Everton have had a tough run of fixtures to open their league campaign, and despite coming through relatively unscathed – with a good 3-1 victory over champions Chelsea and sitting 11th in the Premier League table – Martinez knows that now is the time for performances to approve, and for the points to accumulate.
Sunderland’s visit will far from be an easy one for the Toffees, with confidence high after their comprehensive derby victory last weekend. Despite that, Sunderland’s vulnerabilities are there to be highlighted; the Black Cats still only have six points to their name this season, and still sit just inside the relegation places.
That there is an improved atmosphere around the Sunderland camp is undeniable, but the Everton faithful will remain confident that the Toffees can take a valuable three points on Sunday afternoon.
Everton will have to face the visit of Sunderland without some major players, as captain Phil Jagielka remains sidelined with his knee injury, and influential right-back Seamus Coleman is a major doubt because of a stomach illness.
Roberto Martinez will welcome the return of Gareth Barry from suspension while Tim Howard will likely return as the manager reshuffles his squad after the victory over Norwich midweek.
Midfielder Gareth Barry returns from suspension while goalkeeper Tim Howard will be among the players to come back in after manager Roberto Martinez shuffled his pack for the win over Norwich. Muhammed Besic and Leighton Baines both returned to training on Friday.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce will have some important, late decisions to make on a number of injured players. Olva Toivonen (groin), Younes Kaboul (gron), John O’Shea (hamstring) are doubtful, while Fabio Borini remains a concern after his ankle issues. None of the four players have been in training this week.