Stoke City v Everton – Match Preview

It’s Everton’s final Premier League match before the international break as the Toffees prepare for a trip to Stoke City. The Everton players can take confidence from Saturday’s comfortable victory over Brighton & Hove Albion but manager Sam Allardyce will be well aware of the task in store for his side. They’re on a run of dire form away from home and the trip to The Britannia will only be made more difficult by the news that Gylfi Sigurdsson may have played his final match of the season.

It’s been a strange season for Everton with a dozen new players, three managers and a team which appears to perform differently depending on where it plays. At home, the Toffees have won seven of their eleven matches under manager Sam Allardyce but their away record is nothing short of disastrous. The 1-0 victory over Newcastle United in December 2017 was Everton’s only Premier League win on the road in the last 14 months.

On Saturday they travel to The Britannia to take on Stoke City, a side fighting for its life in the Premier League. The Potters currently lie in 19th place in the table but could climb out of the bottom three with a win. They have become a far more solid unit since Paul Lambert became the side’s manager in January but are having serious trouble scoring goals. Xherdan Shaqiri is the only Stoke player to find the back of the net in their last five matches.

In recent years, this fixture has been dominated by Everton. The Toffees have won three of their last four meetings in the Premier League including a memorable 3-0 victory at The Britannia back in 2016. Now, these are two very different teams but the history certainly favours Sam Allardyce’s men.

Team News

Stoke City will have a near-full-strength team for the match with just a couple of players expected to miss the match. Stephen Ireland is still on the sidelines while Lee Grant and Mame Biram Diouf are both expected to miss the clash with knocks they have picked up in recent weeks.

For Everton, things are a little different. The trio of Morgan Schneiderlin, Idrissa Gueye and Theo Walcott should all recover in time but long-term absentees like James McCarthy, Maarten Stekelenburg and Eliaquim Mangala will all miss the clash. Also absent for the fixture and, potentially, the rest of the season is Gylfi Sigurdsson. The former Swansea City man sustained a knee injury during Saturday’s win over Brighton but played on for the remainder of the match. Now, it has been confirmed that the Icelandic international will see a specialist over the injury and is expected to miss anywhere between a few weeks and several months.

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It’s a blow for Everton as Sigurdsson has been an influential figure in the team. The 28-year-old has created 38 goalscoring chances for his side in the Premier League this season, 13 more than any other player. His creativity will certainly be missed but it seems that a ready-made replacement is already in the Everton team after Yannick Bolasie secured his first Premier League assist of the season on Saturday

“What I liked is that when he produced the final ball that caused the first goal, his game got even better from then on,” Allardyce said of Bolasie after the match.

“He got more confidence straightaway. He started running at them more, causing them more and more problems.

“It will be nice to see the old Yannick back on a consistent basis because I think he gives us good balance down the left-hand side.”

It seems like that feeling is felt throughout the Everton squad according to the scorer of the second goal on Saturday, Cenk Tosun.

“He had a big injury and it was difficult for him but you saw in Saturday’s match that he is feeling better,” Tosun said after the match.

“He is improving and feeling sharper. We talked about the match afterwards and he is like me: if he continues working he will be even better in the next few weeks.”

If Sam Allardyce can get Yannick Bolasie back to the sort of level he showed during his time at Crystal Palace then the loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson will be somewhat softened.

Betting

Bearing in mind the current form of both teams, this match is anyone’s guess and the odds reflect that. Stoke City are the slight favourites for the clash at 7/5 with Everton out at 21/10 on Betway as of 12 March.

The loss of some creative players and an embarrassing record away from home must be taken into account so an Everton win would be a huge shock. Stoke are struggling to find the back of the net themselves which means that a score draw wouldn’t be totally out of the question. Xherdan Shaqiri scoring the first goal in a 1-1 draw is a tempting 28/1.

It’s never easy for a side to travel to The Britannia but with Everton’s recent away record, things look especially tricky. The Toffees have had considerable success against Stoke City in recent seasons but with just one Premier League away win in the last 14 months, Sam Allardyce’s side faces a huge test. They’ll have to do so without key man Gylfi Sigurdsson but they might just get by considering the problems this Stoke City side is facing.

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