The Boxing Day clash at Goodison Park brings Everton and Wigan Athletic to the halfway point of the Premier League season in very different states of affairs.
Everton find themselves in fifth place and more handily placed than most previous years to make a concerted and realistic push for a place in the top 4.
Conversely, Wigan are at the wrong end of the table in an all-to-familiar fight against the drop down to the Championship.
David Moyes brings his side into the first of back-to-back home games off the back of a well-earned victory at Upton Park over West ham United. Roberto Martinez saw his team go down to a penalty by former Toffees star Mikel Arteta in their home defeat by in-form Arsenal.
Saturday’s win for Everton got them right back into the forefront of the challenge for a Champions League qualification place. Despite some poor refereeing decisions for both teams during that encounter in London, Moyes’ men had too much quality for the Hammers.
While the Everton boss will be pleased with the win and the comeback, they continued the trend of falling behind in games and being unable to keep a clean sheet. The 15 game scoring streak is counter-balanced by the 13 game run of conceding goals. This will undoubtedly be an area where the Blues will have to improve on if they’re serious about finishing in one of the top 4 places come May.
The Latics find themselves in the bottom 3 at Christmas yet again. Just like their hosts, Wigan are perennial slow starters who somehow hit form once the New Year dawns. Everton have bucked that trend this season, Wigan have not.
The alarm bells aren’t yet ringing for the men from the DW Stadium. This is a familiar situation for them, and unlike some of the teams around them in the relegation dogfight, Martinez and his players have the knowledge and the tools to get out of the position they currently find themselves in.
The statistics for this game would indicate that Everton should cruise to a facile home success. They have only lost twice this season and are unbeaten at home since March. Wigan, on the otherhand, have the fourth worst scoring record in the League and the second poorest defence behind last-placed QPR.
However, games between the two have always been close affairs. Indeed, four of the last five meetings have ended in draws.
Moyes must again do without the suspended Marouane Fellaini but is able to use midfielder Darron Gibson despite his controversial red card at West Ham, a decision he has decided to appeal. If everyone is fit in the camp, Everton could start the same eleven who won the game on Saturday which would mean starts for the fit again captain, Phil Neville and scoring hero Victor Anichebe.
Martinez has injury doubts over Ivan Ramis and James McCarthy but should be able to welcome his skipper, Gary Caldwell, back into his starting line-up.
As something of a local derby game, this should be a feisty encounter. Everton will see this as a great opportunity to bag a second consecutive win over the festive period, and the perfect way to prepare for the visit of Chelsea in a top 4 clash on December 30.
Wigan Athletic will be hoping for a good result to kick start their usual push away from the relegation zone, knowing that the Blues have difficulty keeping opponents from scoring.
Although the visitors will fight for every ball and scrap as if their lives depended on it, Everton should prevail on home soil if their extra quality displays itself as it did in their last game at West Ham.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Where To Watch Online: Everton vs. Wigan Athletic