In-form Everton host a West Brom side without a win in five matches at Goodison Park on Saturday, with the hosts hoping to close the gap between themselves and the European places.
The Toffees have won their last three games by a 3-0 margin in all competitions, including last weekend’s impressive showing at Stoke City. Having drawn too many games up to this point, Roberto Martinez’s side finally look to have found some rhythm and could yet launch a late assault on the top five.
Everton’s tally of 46 goals is bettered only by Manchester City and Leicester City, with their goal difference of +12 superior to all their rivals for fifth spot, which could yet prove crucial.
If they continue their fine form in front of goal this weekend it will make a welcome change for this fixture, which has ended 0-0 in each of the past two seasons.
West Brom needed penalties to overcome League One side Peterborough United in the FA Cup during midweek, making fatigue a potential issue for Tony Pulis’ men.
The Baggies’ poor league form continued with a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle last weekend, a result which left the Midlands side six points clear of safety with only 13 games left to play. The style of play is leading to frustrations amongst the Albion faithful, with Pulis’ direct approach not leading to particularly entertaining encounters of late.
Only Aston Villa have scored fewer goals than the Baggies this season, with West Brom averaging less than a goal a game; how they could do with Romelu Lukaku, who scored 17 goals on loan at Albion three seasons ago. He will be lining up against them on Saturday looking to add to the brace that he scored at the Hawthorns in Everton’s 3-2 win in the reverse fixture back in September.
Defender John Stones and goalkeeper Tim Howard are both doubtful for the hosts, who will definitely be without midfielder Muhamed Besic (Hamstring). Roberto Martinez continues to monitor January signing Oumar Niasse in training as the £13.5m striker awaits his Toffees debut.
The visitors have numerous injury concerns; with Jonny Evans (Hamstring), James Morrison (Hamstring), Callum McManaman (Ankle) and Gareth McAuley (Hamstring) all set to miss the trip to Merseyside.
Craig Dawson and Chris Brunt are doubtful with ankle and calf problems respectively, whilst striker Saido Berahino still lacks match sharpness according to manager Pulis.
League Positions: Everton – 8th (35 pts); West Brom – 14th (29 pts)
Previous Meeting: West Brom 2-3 Everton – September 28, 2015
League Form: Everton – DDDLWW; West Brom – WDLDDL
Key Players: Everton – Romelu Lukaku; West Brom – Darren Fletcher
Shoot Says: Everton 2-0 West Brom