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MATCH PREVIEW

PUBLISHED
11:34 28th March 2013

Everton Match Preview

EVERTON V STOKE CITY
GOODISON PARK
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 30 MARCH 2013
17:30 KICK-OFF

SETTING THE SCENE:

TONY PULIS will be hoping for a case of déjà-vu when he and his Stoke City squad travel to Goodison Park to take on in-form Everton in front of the live television cameras this Saturday evening.

The Potters, who have won just one game on the road this season, surprised the Toffees and recorded all three points in the same fixture twelve months ago, thanks to Robert Huth’s first-half effort.

The visitors’ task of repeating that feat looks envious to say the least, with David Moyes’ side elevating themselves back into the hunt for a potential top-four finish after vital back-to-back victories.

A blistering start to the campaign saw the Blues perched in a Champions League qualification spot, however, a minor mid-season blip looked to have ended any hopes of ending the term in one of the four coveted spots.

Recent successes against Reading and second-placed Manchester City have left Everton just six points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur, who sit in fourth, and they do have a game in hand on Andre Villas Boas’ side.

Victory against the Potters isn’t necessarily a must if they are to harbour any ambitions of breaking the top-four, but realistically Moyes knows that anything other than three points will leave his side with arguably too much to do over the final eight games.

For Stoke, three points would give them further breathing space above the drop zone, with Wigan Athletic, currently occupying the final relegation berth, sitting on 27 points, seven shy of the Potters who are on 34.

Pulis’ side go into the game on a barren run of form though, having recorded just five points from their 10 Premier League encounters in 2013.

EVERTON FACT-FILE:

Full name: Everton Football Club
Founded: 1878
Stadium: Goodison Park
Capacity: 40,157
Chairman: Bill Kenwright
Manager: David Moyes
2011/12: Premier League (7th), FA Cup (Semi-Final), League Cup (Fourth Round).
Record transfer fee paid: £15m for Marouane Fellaini to Standard Liege, September 2008 
Record transfer fee received: £29m for Wayne Rooney from Manchester United, August 2004

THE GAFFER:

SILVERWARE normally provides the best gauge of a manager’s success . . . but David Moyes has performed remarkably well for more than a decade in charge of Everton without having the trophies to show for his efforts.

Fellow Scotsmen Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish were among those who praised the achievements of Moyes when he celebrated the tenth anniversary of his appointment at Goodison Park almost twelve months ago to the day.

Everton’s boss is behind only Ferguson and Arsene Wenger as the longest-serving managers in the Premier League, having kept the Merseyside club challenging among the leading clubs in the top-flight for much of that time.

The high spots have been qualifying for the Champions League in 2005 and then reaching the FA Cup Final four years later where they eventually lost 2-1 to Chelsea despite the fact that Louis Saha fired them 
into a first minute lead.

Although Everton have never had the spending power of some of their closest rivals, they are still more than a match for the best teams in the country on their day, all of which is great credit to Moyes for the 
job he has done.

A central defender during a playing career spanning more than 600 appearances in all competitions, most notably for Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town and Preston North End, the Glaswegian then cut his 
managerial teeth at Deepdale.

During his four years at the helm with Preston, he guided them to the Division Two title and then the Division One play-offs, success which sprung him to the attention of Everton who lined him up as the 
successor to Walter Smith.

TEAM NEWS:

TONY PULIS will take a check on several members of his playing squad who have been away on international duty over the past ten days.

American duo Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea were both involved in their games in the States and in Mexico, whilst Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson all featured heavily for the Republic of Ireland as 
they picked up points against both Sweden, and Austria.

Charlie Adam appeared from the bench in each of Scotland’s two games, whilst Kenwyne Jones was in action for Trinidad and Tobago in their two friendly encounters against Belize and Peru.

Asmir Begovic, who also starred on international duty for Bosnia, is expected to resume his duties in goal, with Robert Huth likely to return to the starting eleven having served his three-match suspension for 
violent conduct.

Everton are without the influential Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, both of whom serve the first of two-match bans.

Moyes is likely to welcome back England international defender Phil Jagielka however, as he looks set to declare himself fit having been nursing an ankle injury which forced him to miss out on a place in Roy 
Hodgson’s latest international squad.

IN QUOTES:

PETER CROUCH: “We need to win a game,” he enthused. “We have actually played well, especially in the game at Newcastle, which really hurt us.

“I do think that we deserved to win that game, let alone pick up a point. That was a real cruel blow to us.

“There have been a few games recently where we probably deserved more than we got, but for whatever reason we were left disappointed.”

“We are still looking at the top-ten though, and I do honestly believe that a finish in a top-half position is achievable; despite the sticky spell we are going through.”

PHIL JAGIELKA: “We need to win games now. 

“If we were to draw I’m not saying it would be the end of the season, but we have to go out ultra-positive and really take it to teams and see how we go. 

“It might make the manager’s decision making a little bit easier. The manager can be ultra-positive now and throw the shackles off.”

THIS WEEKEND’S FIXTURES:
(All kick-offs 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Saturday:
Sunderland v Manchester United (TV - 12:45)
Arsenal v Reading
Manchester City v Newcastle
Southampton v Chelsea
Swansea City v Tottenham
West Ham v West Brom
Wigan Athletic v Norwich City
Everton v Stoke City (TV - 17:30)

Sunday:
Aston Villa v Liverpool (TV - 13:30)

Monday:
Fulham v QPR (TV - 20:00)

HEAD-2-HEAD:

League: 29 Stoke City wins; 53 Everton wins; 31 draws
FA Cup: 3 Stoke City wins; 5 Everton wins; 1 draw
Total: 32 Stoke City wins; 58 Everton wins; 32 draws

LAST FIVE MEETINGS:

Stoke City 1-1 Everton (Premier League) – 15/12/2012
Stoke City 1-1 Everton (Premier League) – 01/05/2012
Everton 0-1 Stoke City (Premier League) – 04/12/2011
Stoke City 2-0 Everton (Premier League) – 01/01/2011
Everton 1-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 30/10/2010

FANCY A FLUTTER:

Stoke City win: 13/2
Everton win: 8/15
Draw: 11/4

The odds are correct at the time of writing, and are from bet365.com. These may differ dependant upon the latest betting trends.

THE MAN IN CHARGE:

SATURDAY’s game will be officiated by Chester based referee Mike Jones.

This will be Mike’s second game overseeing the Potters, having  taken charge of the 2-2 draw with Wigan Athletic at the Britannia Stadium in January.

In the 26 games he has officiated so far in 2012/13, he has dished out three red cards to Alan Smith (MK Dons), Samir Nasri (Manchester City) and Maynor Figueroa (Wigan Athletic).

On top of that, he has given out 76 yellow cards, including two in his most recent Premier League game – Fulham’s 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur.

His last game involving Everton was their entertaining 3-3 draw with Aston Villa in February. 

    QUICK FACT