So we have reached the end of 2013 with just one home defeat, against Sunderland on Boxing day. Quite how we managed to lose still escapes me. Yes we lost Tim Howard very early in the game for bringing down the very impressive Ki Sung-Yueng, but we still went on to dominate possession and chances. Roberto Martinez spoke after the game of the double punishment of losing the goal and the goalkeeper in the incident, however it’s actually a triple punishment when you consider that we also lose him for today’s game against Southampton. On a plus-note Joel Robles looked more than capable for Wigan last season, and when he came on in the previous game.
We also lose Gareth Barry for the game so that would seem to leave a place for Leon Osman to try to make immediate amends for his part in the calamity that led to Sunderland’s goal, sitting deep with the impressive James McCarthy. Another option would be for Martinez to switch to his favoured three at the back formation, with John Stones coming into the back three with Coleman and Oviedo (or Baines) pushing on. Leaving a midfield of Mirallas, McCarthy and Pienaar with Barkley and Lukaku pushing on.
Of the two options I think I would be happier with the second because whilst the formation is billed as 3-5-1-1, when defending it reverts to 5-4-1. This gives extra cover to our young goalkeeper, whilst not limiting the attacking options due to the pace and skill of the full backs.
I can’t see beyond an Everton win here and an immediate return to form. Lukaku to get back on the goal trail along with Ross Barkley.
2-0 for the Blues.
This game sees the return to Goodison of the infamous Mark Clattenburg for the first time in 6 years. He is sure to get a hostile reception but I just hope that particular pantomime (or indeed the ref himself) doesn’t ruin what should be a great game of attacking football.
Come on You Blues!