Saturday’s match sees Everton travel to West Brom in search of a club record. Avoid defeat and Everton create a new club record for unbeaten Premier League games; the convincing win at Villa Park tied the previous best (11). David Moyes’ men are in fine form with three defeats in 26 and just one defeat in ten on the road.
To extend their good form, however, Everton will need to overcome an in-form West Brom side. With their opening day win over Liverpool as evidence, the home side are making the Hawthorns into a small fortress. Well organised and disciplined, the Baggies have kept six clean sheets in eight home league games. Steve Clarke’s side have also lost just once at home in seven-league games.
Everton hold the edge with wins in the last three meetings. At the Hawthorns, the record is dead level with three wins apiece. Whilst unlikely to start, Victor Anichebe enjoys playing West Brom with three goals in five appearances; he scored in each of last season’s meetings. Leon Osman also thrives against West Brom, the midfielder notching four career goals against the Baggies.
Everton have slight worries at right back. Whilst neither is serious, doubts remain over Tony Hibbert (neck) and Phil Neville (leg). Should they fail to prove their fitness, Seamus Coleman will fill the void. Aside from the right back slot, Everton boast a fully fit squad with Kevin Mirallas pushing for a start.
The home side could welcome back Peter Odemwingie after a groin injury. However, the Nigerian forward may start on the bench, as West Brom have an embarrassment of riches with Long, Odemwingie, Fortune, Lukaku and Rosenberg vying for two places.
Everton’s Key Man – Leighton Baines
A left back by trade, Baines is one of the league’s best attacking players. Ending last season as the league’s 11th best creator, the left back has continued in the same vein. Currently leading the way with 13 chances created, Baines has created more than Stoke (12), West Ham (12), Newcastle (11) and Reading (11).
Upon closer inspection, Baines compares favourably against some of the league’s most attacking and expensive players. Much media attention has centred on Eden Hazard’s impact on the Premier League. Despite playing a game less, Baines has created more chances and possesses a stronger minutes: chance ratio.
West Brom’s Key Man – James Morrison
Carrying on from last season, the midfield man is developing into a key player. Despite the season’s infancy, Morrison leads the way in terms of creativity at West Brom. The Scottish international has created four chances in 12 /13; the best return of any Baggies player this season.
Despite Youssuf Mulumbu (99) and Claudio Yacob (95) attempting more passes, Morrison boasts passing highs in opposition territory and the final third. This highlights the midfielder’s creative threat with his best work done in the opposing half.
Adept at set pieces and a clean striker of the ball, Morrison heads the crossing results. Having attempted 12 crosses, West Brom’s creative force is seven crosses ahead of his next teammate.
The two sides are well organised with clean sheets in opening day wins. Both are in good form and this should make for a keenly contested battle. West Brom will try to stifle Everton’s creative hub of Baines and Pienaar with Everton looking to continue their impressive start.
At the risk of being blindingly obvious, the first goal is crucial. With obdurate Scottish managers at the helm, both sides have miserly defences. Should one side take the lead, the other may struggle to get back into the contest.
8 – Nikica Jelavic has 8 in 8 league games
29 – League games without defeat for Darron Gibson
40.5 – West Brom have averaged just 40.5% possession in their two games.
150 – Leighton Baines’ 150 Premier League start for Everton
150 - Steven Pienaar’s 150th Everton appearance
All of the Match Stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.
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