All eyes will turn to the Hawthorns on Monday night as a West Brom team, looking to get away from the relegation dogfight, welcome an impressive Everton side.
West Brom also welcome new manager Pepe Mel to the Hawthorns after the new appointment watched The Baggies’ 1-0 defeat to Southampton last weekend. The Spanish head coach will want to thank Keith Downing, who after 5 league games in charge, had a record of: 1 win, 3 draws and 1 defeat, managed to help keep West Brom out of the bottom 3.
Some might be surprised by the swift transition Roberto Martinez has had at Everton, as the Merseyside team look to contest for a European spot come the end of the season. With only 2 defeats this season – to Manchester City and Sunderland – Everton have proved themselves to be a difficult team to beat. As injuries to key players start to pile up, however, Everton could struggle consistently to produce the performances they have shown thus far.
As shown often this season Everton are strong in midfield, with their high tempo passing and pressing, so having someone to break up the play is pivotal to competing with Martinez’s side – Youssuf Mulumbu is a player that can make that happen.
With 199 ground duels and 46 tackles, Mulumbu has a physical presence as well as a good reading of the game to cope with the passing style of Everton and with 61 interceptions this season he is capable. The partnership with Yacob that impressed many will need to shine again if Mel is to open his West Brom career with a win.
After injuries disrupted his first season at Everton, this season was to be the one where he looked to kick on and Mirallas has done so.
Mirallas has created the most chances for Everton (41) – 14 more than second best James McCarthy (27) – so it is not surprising that the Greek international is Everton’s highest assist maker (5). His performance last weekend against Norwich saw Mirallas score a brilliant free kick, his third goal of the season, and create 5 chances for his teammates. A repeated performance will likely see a victory for Everton.
West Brom have drawn the most matches in the Premier League this season with 9.
West Brom away has proved a difficult fixture for Everton in the last decade with the Baggies winning 4 matches to Everton’s 3.
Everton have the joint best defence in the league (19 goals conceded) and have lost fewer matches than any other team (2).
West Brom are guaranteed to be a striker short on Monday night after selling Shane Long to Hull in mid-week, but Pepe Mel could have Sessegnon and Popov available for his first match.
Everton, like their opponents, have sold a striker to Hull City and a berth on the bench will be available which won’t be filled by attacking players Barkley, Deulofeu, and Kone, who are all injured for the foreseeable future. Gibson and Distin are also set to miss out for the Toffees.
Whenever a new manager arrives at a club more often than not there is an improvement in performances, in the short term at least. Whether that will bring a result for West Brom is harder to predict. A spirited performance will not be enough for West Brom as Everton’s quality will outshine them.