Everton are hoping to score four in four consecutive league games – a club first. The Fulham win was the first time Everton have scored three or more in three consecutive league games since 1964. The way Everton are playing, they will think anything is possible.
However, the Britannia is a tough place to go with Everton failing to score in their last two visits. Everton lost at home to Stoke in December and have failed to score in their last two against Tony Pulis’ side. However, before those two matches, Everton were unbeaten in the last 12 meetings.
Overall, Everton have lost just three of their last 20 matches. David Moyes’ team are now unbeaten in six league games. Stoke have won just one of their last nine in all competitions. Their only win in eight league games is a 2 – 1 home win over relegated Wolves.
Nikica Jelavic is looking to become the first Everton player to score in three successive league games since Tim Cahill in November 2010. The Croatian has scored 10 in his first 13 appearances (10 starts). He is the ninth Everton player to notch 10 goals in 13 matches or less. Following on from his brace against Fulham, Jelavic has scored nine in his last seven matches.
Stoke’s approach to the game is often scrutinised with a supposed tendency for long ball tactics and a reliance on set pieces. Upon closer inspection, these traits seem to be true. Stoke have the lowest amount of goals from open play (12) this season with 19 of their 33 goals coming from set pieces.
The difference in passing is clear with Everton attempting almost 4,000 passes more than Stoke this season. Everton’s passing accuracy has risen from 76% to 77% based on their recent good form. The new signings have improved the team and ball retention has improved in line with that. Everton’s passing accuracy reached a season high of 90% against Fulham (551/615).
Stoke’s passing accuracy (69.8%) is the lowest in the Premier League. Stoke’s average amount of possession per game (39.5%) is also the lowest of the 20 Premier League teams. With the worst passing and possession stats, it would seem that Stoke live up to the stereotypes.
Stoke also boast the lowest number of shots per game (9.7). With the lowest numbers in a host of creativity-based stats, it is easy to see why Stoke have such a negative stereotype. Whilst passing is clearly not Stoke’s strong point, they do have strengths.
They have a clear advantage in terms of aerial presence. Stoke win 59% of their aerial challenges compared to Everton’s 49%. Stoke have a league high in terms of aerial challenges won per game (15.2).
Everton will once again be without Leighton Baines and Jack Rodwell. Baines could return for Wolves with Rodwell out for the season. Royston Drenthe is set to miss out again (club suspension). With no new injury concerns, David Moyes looks set to name an unchanged side.
Stoke are likely to be without Andy Wilkinson (hamstring) and his return date is unknown. Salif Diao is set to miss the game (knee) and Mamady Sidibe is out (dislocated knee).
Stoke boast strong home form with none of the Top 4 winning at the Britannia this season. Known for the great atmosphere, the Britannia is one of the hardest grounds to visit in the top flight. Many people dislike Stoke’s approach but it works. Stoke are not easy on the eye but they have established themselves in the Premier League; not many promoted sides do that. Stoke play to their strengths; aerial prowess and a constant threat at set pieces.
Everton will look to impose their new and improved passing game. Steven Pienaar could prove crucial with the midfielder leading the way in terms of assists with seven in eleven Everton starts. Doubts remain over whether Lionel Messi could cope on a cold night at the Britannia Stadium. On Tuesday, we will find out if Everton can.
Phil Jagielka, with 2 own goals in the last 3 away meetings, is Stoke’s joint highest Premier League scorer against Everton
Darron Gibson is unbeaten in 26 league games
Everton have won 99 Premier League away games
Everton last managed 4 goals in 4 consecutive games (league and cup) in 1931
Everton haven’t scored at the Britannia since 14th September 2008