Everton and Sunderland clash for the fourth time this season on Easter Monday. Two of the three previous meetings ended in dismal 1 -1 draws with Everton winning 2 -0 in the FA Cup replay at Sunderland. Both teams come into the game on the back of draws; Everton drew 2 – 2 at Norwich with Sunderland drawing 0 -0 against Tottenham.
Everton will look to continue their 17 match unbeaten run against Sunderland. The 17 match run dates back to Sunderland’s last win over Everton on 22nd November 2001. Sunderland are also win-less at Goodison Park since November 1996 with Everton winning eight and four ending level. Sunderland’s win in 1996 is their only win at Goodison Park since November 1981.
Martin O’Neill’s side will need to improve their away form; six win-less matches, if they want to end their Everton hoodoo. Sunderland will also want to shore up their defence, as their clean sheet against Tottenham was their first in six matches.
Everton’s defence is watertight, in comparison, with clean sheets in three of their last four outings. David Moyes’ team have won four of their last five at home without conceding. Thomas Vermaelen’s winner is the only goal Tim Howard has conceded in those five games. That recent visit of Arsenal is Everton’s only defeat in ten at Goodison Park.
One of the main reasons for Everton’s recent revival is Nikica Jelavic. The Croatian forward has scored five goals, in all competitions, since his January arrival. For a side lacking in forward areas, for the best part of two years, Jelavic’s impact has been a real blessing for Evertonians.
The comparison between Jelavic and the other Everton forwards makes for interesting reading. Jelavic provides something that was previously lacking with a keen eye for goal and the ability to create chances. Unsurprisingly, he leads the way in terms of goals and chances made. Denis Stracqualursi has played most often for Everton this season but Jelavic leads the Argentine in all categories.
The table also highlights the brief but crucial impact of Apostolos Vellios. The Greek youngster has the best minutes per goal ratio and the best shooting accuracy. However, with question marks over his work rate, he has barely featured since Christmas. With the season winding down, it seems an ideal time to reintroduce Vellios into the squad.
Next Page: Midfield Battle of Fellaini Vs Cattermole plus Match Facts & Stats…