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…
The midfield battle could prove crucial with both sides likely to start with five in midfield. Both sides have their own combative midfielders, Marouane Fellaini for Everton and Lee Cattermole for Sunderland. Fellaini will look to carry on where he left off after dominating Cattermole in the recent cup replay.
Upon closer inspection, it is easy to see why Fellaini had the edge. The Belgian has the beating of Cattermole in all bar one category. The difference in tackling is telling with Fellaini attempting more and boasting a superior success rate. Fellaini’s contribution will be vital and go some way to ensuring Everton emerge victorious.
There is no shame in losing a midfield battle to Fellaini with the Belgian developing into one of the league’s best holding midfielders. Fellaini has featured in 28 league games for Everton this season; 25 starts and 3 substitute appearances. He has ended 14 of those 28 games with a 100% tackle success rate; testament to his dominance of the midfield area.
Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell will look to step up their fitness with the FA Cup semi-final just six days away. Royston Drenthe should return, after leave, to try to set up a semi-final place. David Moyes will make changes with Everton playing their second game in three days.
For Sunderland, Frazier Campbell (knock), John O’Shea (calf) and Wes Brown (knee) could all be missing as they battle for fitness. Titus Bramble (calf) and Marcus Angeleri (knee) remain long-term absentees.
Everton are enjoying their customary end of season revival with just two defeats in 15. Sunderland’s recent away form has not been good and Everton, rightly, go into this as favourites. However, Martin O’Neill has a good record against David Moyes and Sunderland will hope that counts in their favour.
- Tim Cahill has 3 in his last 6 against Sunderland and 8 career goals against them
- Darron Gibson is unbeaten in 11 Everton appearances and his last 24 league games
- Sunderland have not beaten David Moyes’ Everton in 16 attempts
- Sunderland have lost 15 points from winning positions – only Wolves (20) have fared worse
- Leighton Baines is set to play his 100th consecutive Premier League game
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.