Two of the clubs jostling for European qualification in the Premier League come face-to-face at Goodison Park on Wednesday, January 30.
Everton welcome West Bromwich Albion with both managers desperate for a win to bolster their late season push.
David Moyes has seen his team limp to two consecutive draws in their last two league fixtures, while it took a last minute winner from the unlikely source of Johnny Heitinga to help the Toffees squeeze past Bolton Wanderers in the F.A. Cup on Saturday. At least they didn’t suffer the same fate as Liverpool!
It’s been a week of mixed fortunes for the Everton boss. Their disappointing performance at Southampton was tempered by the theft of a valuable league point from the south coast. Moyes was boosted by the return of Belgian Kevin Mirallas, who has been sorely missed during his enforced absence due to a hamstring injury.
However, no sooner was Mirallas back on the field but he succumbed again to his spaghetti hamstrings after only 17 minutes of the Bolton clash.
The victory at the Reebok Stadium was followed by a favourable draw for Round 5 of the FA Cup, as the Blues were paired with Liverpool’s conquerors, Oldham Athletic. Moyes, so desperate to win the F.A. Cup this year, will fancy his team’s chances of succeeding where the complacent Reds failed.
Then came a real bombshell. Everton were plunging into the January transfer market to snap up Dutch international prospect, Leroy Fer for £8.6 million. Dubbed the new Patrick Vieira, most Evertonians were left wondering, why has he chosen Everton and where did the club find the money?!
Whatever the answers are, the fans and players must surely feel buoyed by the new arrival and the ambition of the board to push for a top four place this season.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke, is experiencing his first real blip since taking over at The Hawthorns in the summer. The Baggies are without a win in six games, four of which have been defeats. Clarke is also having to deal with the Peter Odemwingie saga. The Nigerian forward is agitating for a way out of the club with QPR and Harry ’likes a deal’ Redknapp hovering, desperate to avail themselves of cash yet again.
With such a nuisance effect in the background it will be a tough task for the Albion to get a good result at Goodison particularly in their current poor form.
The home side will be without Kevin Mirallas and longer term absentees Tony Hibbert and Darron Gibson while the visitors must do without Steven Reid and Zoltan Gera, although Shane Long is expected to play a part. Long has often proved a tricky customer for Everton and Clarke will hope he can inspire The Baggies to a repeat of their 2-0 victory over Moyes’ team back in September.
Although the Toffees are hardly in sparkling form themselves coming into this game, their excellence at home is often worth a goal head start, which might come in very handy as this game is likely to be decided by a single goal.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Everton: Howard, Heitinga, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Naismith, Fellaini, Osman, Neville, Pienaar, Jelavic
West Brom: Foster, Jones, Ridgewell, McAuley, Olsson, Morrison, Yacob, Dorrans, Brunt, Lukaku, Long
Where To Watch Online: Everton vs. Wesrt Bromwich Albion