James Morrison of West Bromwich Albion fends off Leighton Baines of Everton. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Everton travel to the West Midlands with both teams defending early-season unbeaten records on Saturday. The Toffees are in third place in the Premiership after two wins, while Albion are in fourth after beating Liverpool and drawing away to Tottenham Hotspur last week. A late goal from Victor Anichebe clinched the win for Everton in the corresponding fixture last year.
David Moyes' side didn't really get tested at Aston Villa last week, and the Blues will attempt to take the game by the scruff of the neck right from the outset to silence the partisan home crowd. Both sides rested a few regulars in their midweek Cup ties, and should be at full strength again.
More after the jump.
New signing Kevin Mirallas had a sparkling game in his first start for Everton, and Moyes will be wondering whether to start him or Steven Naismith in the withdrawn role behind Nikica Jelavic. For West Brom, Steve Clarke has been keeping his starting squad under wraps this week.
Team News -
Everton have a full complement of players to choose from, with Tony Hibbert having recovered from his neck injury and Phil Neville fit again after limping off in the League Cup game against Leyton Orient.
The Baggies have had some injury issues, with defenders Steven Reid, Jonas Olsson and Liam Ridgewell, midfielders James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas, and forwards Peter Odemwingie and Romelu Lukaku all being held out of the Yeovil game.
Keys To The Game -
Moyes pulled Marouane Fellaini back into midfield as Neville went to right back to cover for the injured Hibbert last weekend. Mirallas looked very comfortable on the pitch with his off-the-ball running and could have earned a starting berth along with Leon Osman, with Naismith missing out.
Clarke will most likely go aggressive as he attempts to scalp a second Merseyside team in three weeks. Depending on the fitness of Odemwingie and Lukaku, expect a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation. James Morrison has been the mastermind of their midfield so far and Darron Gibson will be charged with keeping him quiet as Fellaini presses deeper to cut off his supply routes. Impressively enough, the Baggies did all their damage in their previous two games with a meagre 40% ball possession, using quick movement and wide play to score.
Match Facts -
- Everton are unbeaten in their last eleven Premier League fixtures, stretching into last year.
- They are also unbeaten in their ten games away from home, last losing on March 13th.
- Everton have played WBA 155 times, stretching back to 1888, winning 64 times and drawing 34 times.
- The last time Albion won their first two games at home was in 1984.
- One point or better tomorrow would mark the Baggies' best ever start to the Premiership.