Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmakers: Bet 365
Struggling Stoke host Everton in a game of vital importance for the Potters. They head into this game sitting 19th in the table having conceded a ludicrous 56 goals, but a win could see them climb out of the relegation zone. Everton meanwhile are ninth, but their recent form has been erratic at best and they too are struggling defensively.
There’s no two ways about it, Stoke City have been awful this season. A team once famed for physicality and defensive solidity, the Potters have conceded a ludicrous 56 goals in 30 Premier League games this season, making them the second worst defensive side in the English top flight. Add to that their struggles in front of goal – just 28 in their favour from those 30 games – and it becomes fairly obvious why Paul Lambert’s side are languishing down in 19th spot.
Not that it’s Paul Lambert’s fault though, given that he only took over from Mark Hughes in the middle of January. The Scotsman has taken charge of eight games, registering one win, four draws and three defeats. In fact the Potters are without a win in their last six and have scored three times in that span of games.
The one positive for Stoke fans however is that the relegation battle is looking incredibly tight this season, and they are actually just one point from safety. Given their form not only recently but all season long, that one point may well be enough to see them go down, but they should at least put up some sort of fight. A game against Everton, who have little to play for at this stage, provides a decent opportunity to grab a positive result.
In defence Kevin Wimmer could miss out due to a lack of match fitness.
Elsewhere Stephen Ireland’s calf injury will keep him out of this game, while Mame Biram Diouf won’t feature due to a shoulder issue.
With eight games to go it could very well be a case of ‘job done’ for Everton. Sam Allardyce has lifted the Toffees out of any sort of relegation battle and they currently sit ninth, 10 points above the drop zone. They are also 11 points behind sixth place Arsenal, so their season already looks destined to end in mid-table mediocrity. Given their diabolically bad form at the start of the season this will likely be a welcome relief to some fans, but there is a definite sense that the club should be aiming higher.
Selling Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United in the summer really blunted Everton in an attacking sense, proven by their disappointing tally of 35 goals this season, and the club haven’t managed to successfully replace the Belgian striker. January signing Cenk Tosun has two goals from his first six appearances in English football, but hasn’t convinced yet. Theo Walcott meanwhile started strong but has fizzled out of late, while the romantic return of Wayne Rooney hasn’t really paid off either.
Everton spend big in the summer and in January, but their season has not reflected that at all. Their form has been incredibly sporadic, as evidenced by their last 10 games, which have ended in three wins, one draw and six defeats. With survival all but secured, the Merseyside club will likely be turning their attention towards next season and hopefully matching the ambition of their spending.
Ashley Williams is suspended for this game and Eliaquim Mangala’s knee injury will keep him out of this clash.
Gylfi Sigurdsson also has a knee issue that will keep him sidelined, while Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt due to illness. James McCarthy’s broken leg means he is out for the long-term.
Key Factors to Consider
- Stoke have won just one of their last 12 games across all competitions.
- The Potters conceded 18 goals in that same stretch of games.
- Everton have won three of their last 13 games in all competitions.
- The Toffees have scored 12 goals and conceded 21 in those 12 games.
- The last meeting between these two sides ended 1-0 to Everton.
Neither Stoke nor Everton have been in anything resembling good form recently and it could well be a case of the superior talent of the Toffees being cancelled out by the determination of the Potters. It could be an ugly game, but a draw may well be the best bet here.
Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmakers: Bet 365
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!