- Goodison Park
- Saturday, 9th of May 2015
- TV: BT Sports 1
Everton (Possible 4-1-4-1) Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines; Gareth Barry; Aaron Lennon, Stephen Naismith, James McCarthy, Kevin Mirallas; Romelu Lukaku.
Out: Bryan Oviedo (metatarsal fracture), Stephen Pienaar (muscular injury), Darron Gibson (metatarsal fracture), Tony Hibbert (knee).
Sunderland (Possible 4-3-3) Costel Pantillimon, Billy Jones, Sebastian Coates, Santiago Vergini, Patrick Van Aanholt; Sebastian Laarson, Lee Cattermole, Jordi Gomez; Jermaine Defoe, Danny Graham, Connor Wickham.
Out: John O’Shea (rib), Ricky Alvarez (knee), Emmanuel Giaccherini (ankle).
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Defender Luke Garbutt returns for Everton after a bout of tonsillitis but will only be a substitute to face Sunderland. Meanwhile Midfielder Steven Pienaar misses a fourth successive match as he is still not ready to come back from a muscle injury. Bryan Ovideo and Darron Gibson (both broken metatarsals) and defender Tony Hibbert are the other long-term absentees.
Sunderland captain John O’Shea will miss his first game of the season after suffering a rib injury last weekend. Meanwhile Steven Fletcher is fit after missing two games with an ankle complaint, while defender Wes Brown returns from a knee injury.
Saturday’s clash between Everton and Sunderland is the Big Match of the Premier League Weekend pick for Playing for 90. The clash will be vital in deciding who ends in 18th place this season – the last realistic place left in The Premier League this season. Currently Sunderland sit in 18th place on 33 points, with up to with Aston Villa in 14th place with 35 points all worrying for their safety with three games remaining.
With Aston Villa at home to West Ham and Newcastle hosting West Brom on Saturday not losing seems the absolute minimum required for Sunderland; with away trips to Stamford Bridge and The Emirates following the match at home to Leicester City time for Sunderland to pick it up points has reached boiling point.
Rush The Kop
As for Everton’s motivation for the tie, their home fans will demand a performance following last week’s 3-2 loss to Aston Villa and what has proved to be a truly disappointing second season for Roberto Martinez.
Martinez spoke ahead of Saturday’s tie, reiterating his teams focus ahead of the game: “They’ll be feeling focused and feeling there’s an opportunity,” said Martinez, who will not risk Steven Pienaar on his return to full fitness.
“When you get down to the last 12 points like they have you see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not just having a fear of getting relegated, it’s more knowing what you have to do to achieve your aim”, said Martinez.
Advocaat meanwhile is unlikely to mix up his selection too much but can welcome back striker Steven Fletcher from an ankle problem.
“They’ve done it the last two weeks, in giving everything they’ve got,” Advocaat told the Sunderland Echo of his side’s recent revival.
“They’re doing it in training as well; otherwise it makes it easier for me [to make changes]. It was an honour to sit on the bench last weekend and that has given us a better feeling this week,” said Advocaat.
The key battle of Saturday’s big Premier League came will be in the middle of the pitch whereby Lee Cattermole will be up against Gareth Barry in central midfield. These bruising control-men will likely determine the outcome of the tie. Barry has had an underwhelming season for the Blues, following a hugely impressive previous season while he was still on loan from Manchester City.
Cattermole meanwhile has somewhat curtailed his overly-aggressive tagline while adding much craft to his midfield skills; though Sunderland still find themselves in the relegation zone in 18th place with 33 points.
For Everton Barry had been the brains of the side that passed their way through the Premier League of 2013/14 with increased precision and focus. To lose Barry would have been lobotomising the team, many thought. Martinez agreed, often cooing over the Englishman’s ability to dictate games from deep.
Barry is ‘unique’ Martinez remarked on several occasions. “I think Gareth can play up to his 40s,” he said. Barry was 32 at the time – he is 33 now and staggeringly has a contract that takes him past his 36th birthday. Once again, many – including myself – believed that like Steven Gerrard, mobility would barely factor into the form of an ageing midfielder sat in front of the back four.
Barry’s role is of course two-fold: dictate through on the ball play, and off the ball play. He is failing especially off the ball. Barry fouls 1.85 times per 90 while he has received 10 yellow cards and one red card this season; illustrating his lack of focus at times. Nevertheless Barry has improved in recent weeks; he averages 2.27 tackles and 1.81 interceptions per 90 throughout the current Premier League campaign.
Comparatively Cattermole’s behaviour although improved, is still unsurprisingly even worse than Barry, receiving 13 yellow cards throughout the season. Defensively Cattermole averages 2.11 tackles and 2.50 interceptions per 90, comparing similarly to Barry’s aforementioned statistics.
Offensively Cattermole marginally compares favourably to Barry; creating 0.47 chances per 90 compared to Barry’s 0.42 per 90. Cattermole has made 11 key passes this season, and scored one goal to date in the league. Barry in comparison, has made 10 key passes, and assisted once. Clearly, neither are offensive maestros, but with a tenacious midfield role to fulfil in the game.
In what will likely be a war of attrition, the battle for dominance will likely be key for Saturday’s tie; Barry and Cattermole the likely warriors in the battle of Goodison Park this Saturday.
Interesting Stat: The last three meetings between Everton and Sunderland have produced just four goals; two were penalties, while another was an own goal.
Prediction: Everton 1-3 Sunderland