On Monday night, Goodison Park will play host to Tony Pulis and his new side West Bromwich Albion. Roberto Martinez and his side desperately need to start putting wins back on the board and would’ve been looking at the visit of West Brom as a prime opportunity to start doing so. However, Tony Pulis was appointed the new Baggies manager on New Year’s Day, and the former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager’s track record speaks for itself. In his first two games in charge Pulis has managed a home win and an away draw to high flying West Ham, so it’s already becoming evident that Pulis hasn’t lost his way since leaving Palace before the season started.
Everton meanwhile have not won a game for over a month. The blue half of Merseyside have only managed to pick up 4 points out of a possible 18 available since December 15th. Martinez’s men showed signs of improvement last time out picking up a draw against the champions Manchester City. It was a heartening performance for the squad and supporters given they had lost the 4 previous matches. But, now they need more than good performances, they need to start getting points back on the board or see themselves unbelievably slide right into the middle of a relegation dog fight. A frustrated team looking to pick up points over a revitalised side with a manager who looks to frustrate. It should make for an interesting game of football
Roberto Martinez will be without winger Aiden McGeady who will miss the home clash through suspension. Meanwhile, full-back Tony Hibbert and centre-back Sylvain Distin are being monitored. Martinez may be hoping that Distin is cleared to play to get back his favoured centre-back partnership, although John Stones has proven to be a more than reliable replacement. The Toffee’s will continue to be without key players with James McCarthy (hamstring), Steven Pienaar (knee), Leon Osman (ankle), Darron Gibson (knee), and Tim Howard (calf) all still unavailable for the home team.
Tony Pulis has no new injuries to concern him when his side travels to Merseyside. The Baggies will continue to be without central defender Jonas Olsson who is still out with his Achilles problem
- Everton have lost 6 of their last 9 Premier League matches
- Tony Pulis has won 6 of the last 9 Premier League matches he has managed
- Everton have conceded 34 goals this season, after only conceding 39 the whole of last season
- West Brom have only won 4 of their 26 Premier League away matches
- Victor Anichebe has 3 goals in this fixture. The West Brom striker scored those 3 goals for Everton against his current side
Everton: Romelu Lukaku
To win games you need goals. Romelu Lukaku cost Everton about 28 million pounds in the summer just past, and they were willing to pay this so he could continue to score goals for the club. Lukaku so far this season has made the most league appearances for the Toffee’s with 21. The big Belgian is also the club’s top scorer in the league, but he has only scored 6 goals. Everton need more from their big money striker. A lot of last year’s success for Everton was based of their solid defensive efforts topped with goal scoring magic from the young Chelsea loanee at the time. With no goals in his last 7 league games Lukaku needs to step up, and a turn in form from him could lead to a rise up the table from the club. 6 goals and 2 assists in 21 games aren’t the type of stats that Martinez paid Chelsea all that money for. Considering that in his last two Premier League season’s Lukaku managed 32 goals in 65 games he cannot be impressed with his tally so far. The striker is still young aged only 21, but he has set the bar high for himself in recent years and Everton now need him to step up and continue to mature into the player the splashed the cash on. West Brom at home is as good a time as any to snap his goal scoring drought and get his new permanent side back to winning ways.
West Bromwich Albion: Joleon Lescott
Any Tony Pulis side is built off the back of a solid defence. Pulis has walked into a club with an experienced defender like Joleon Lescott and you can bet he will make use of him. The central defender has won numerous England caps and even picked up 2 Premier League medals in his time at Manchester City. His experience is definitely the type of quality Pulis will appreciate when developing West Brom’s back four into one he feels good enough for him. At 32, having played at the highest level since signing for Everton in 2006, he is a man that can lead the backline by example, helping players like young Craig Dawson develop especially with Jonas Olsson currently out through injury. There was a reason that during Brunt’s absence he was awarded the armband by previous manager Alan Irvine. For a visit to Goodison to face a physical threat like Romelu Lukaku, Pulis will expect a physical approach from his defenders. Lescott should have the experience to know how to match up against a physical threat like Lukaku 11 years his junior.
It’s a matchup that’s hard to call. Had this game taken place about 2 months ago I’d have confidently supported a comfortable Everton victory given how poor West Brom have been even considering how indifferent Everton had been at that stage. But, there are lots of elements to this match now. Pulis and his recent appointment re-energising the Midland side, Everton and their terrible form, plus key injuries in the Everton side. Martinez needs a win sooner rather than later and West Brom at home is game Everton fans will look at as one where 3 points is more than attainable. Pulis has only been in charge of West Brom for less than 3 weeks, which I don’t think is enough time for him to have fully imposed his way of football on the side, he can’t be that good (or perhaps it is just that simple). Due to what should be near desperation from the Everton side and that it is still early days in the West Brom/Pulis era, it should be a narrow Everton win.
1-0 Everton Win