On November first, Sunderland will travel west to Goodison Park to take on Everton. The Black Cats are coming off an incredible 3-0 win over arch rivals Newcastle which saw them pick up their first win in the Premier League. Everton on the other hand are in a tough run of form.
They’re winless in their last three Premier League matches with a draw to Liverpool and losses to Manchester United and Arsenal. While it’s never good to lose matches, those were all tough matches were they would have been hard pressed to get the three points.
Now they’ll look to rebound with some easier fixtures, starting with relegation battlers Sunderland.
Both of these teams squads could be hugely effected by the outcomes of their late fitness tests.
Sunderland have a lot of players with a lot of late fitness questions. They have six injuries, and all could feasibly be available for the Everton game, but some are less likely than others.
John O’Shea, Jack Rodwell, Fabio Borini, Younes Kaboul, and Adam Mathews are all in contention to be in the squad, but are all considered very doubtful. Ola Toivonen is the most promising of the bunch and is in real contention to be fit to play.
Everton have a few long term injuries. Phil Jagielka is due out until mid December with an MCL injury. Both Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar are both about a week away from fitness. Both Leighton Baines and Muhamed Besic both just came back to training and are hopeful to be fit for the match. Seamus Coleman is a big doubt as he is suffering with a stomach virus.
Sunderland have won three out of their last five encounters with Everton after a run of going 19 matches without a win. Sunderland have not beaten Everton while conceding a goal since March of 2000.
Everton have the second worst home defensive record in the league with nine goals conceded in five games. The Toffees have only won one of their opening five home games, with that win coming against Chelsea.
Sunderland have lost four of their first five away games with their only point coming against bottom side Aston Villa.
Everton: Romelu Lukaku
Much of Everton’s hopes rely on the performances of their star striker Romelu Lukaku. While the likes of Arouna Kone, Steven Naismith, and even Ross Barkley have shown their ability to pop up with a goal here and there, the big Belgian is the only consistent source of goals in the Everton team.
The Blues have not lost a game where Lukaku has scored this season, so Roberto Martinez will hope he can grab a few goals in this one.
Sunderland: Yann M’Vila
Sunderland will likely come to Goodison and look to defend deep. They’ll still need the midfield to provide a good shield in front of the back four and Yann M’Vila will need to be on top form if he is to do that.
The French international has been one of the few bright spots in Sunderland’s train wreck of a season. He has shown the ability to control a midfield, and has even popped up with some offensive contributions with a goal and three assists. The Black Cats will need him to be on top form to protect their fragile defense.