First let me pass on Christmas wishes from the team here at COYB.co.uk. It’s been a bit of a slow year in terms of content from ourselves but we hope to rectify that in the coming year.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.
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Now, onto the game on Boxing Day at Goodison. I am not sure there could be a worse team to be playing next given our current run or form in the league. Sequences always seem to end against us and Everton are unbeaten in 5 at home, whilst stoke haven’t won away since November, although 2 of the defeats they suffered where at Old Trafford and Anfield.
Stoke will have had to look no further than Match of the Day recently to see how to play against us when key players are missing, press our back 4 whilst they pass it between themselves then put a weak cross in and either we’ll score it for you or you can do it yourself. Perhaps a little harsh, but you know what I mean?
On a more positive note 3 of our best players are expected to be involved in the next few games. Kevin Mirallas, James McCarthey and John Stones are all making much needed returns from injury to provide a breath of fresh air into a squad that had looked drained and laboured all term.
Hibbert, Osman and Gibson are still missing, as well as Atsu but let’s be honest they wouldn’t be starting anyway.
Stoke are going to be assessing Peter Crouch (neck) coming up to the game as he limed out of their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Monday evening. Stephen Ireland is also expected to miss out (knee).
I spoke in my last post about needing to make brave decisions in the coming weeks although I fully expect that Martinez will stick with the status-quo rather than make wholesale changes.
Expect the 3 of Mirallas, McCarthey and Stones to come in (if fit) and Distin, Barry and Eto’o to drop out.
Howard, Baines, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Besic, McCarthey, Naismith, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku