Everton, Away. With the Toffee's currently flying with only 1 defeat in 11 its probably not the best time to have to pay a visit but nevertheless our trips to Goodison have in the past been fruitful. Not recently, I know, but we've managed to avoid defeat on 50% on our visits and without a goal conceded in 4 and a half games perhaps it's Everton who should be tense - they're chasing Europe after all.
Resilance is the key word for Sunday and we should perhaps look at the success of 2 other teams on their visits to Everton. Although only Villa and Middlesbrough have stopped Everton from scoring at home this season, Villa went there in November and got their first away victory winning 1-0 and Middlesbrough played at Goodison on Boxing Day with an away record of 3 draws and 6 defeats and managed a 0-0 draw. Two very unlikely teams then, but both have stopped Everton from scoring at home this season. And Everton don't have a brilliant record against bottom half teams. In fact of 18 games against teams in the bottom 10, they've only won 7 times!
So they're sixth in the table but that'll make them as nervous as we are with Spurs just 3 points away. On current form both teams at equal with 12 points out of the last 18 available. Looking at their home form, its nine wins and only 3 defeats in 16 games and will give you some idea of the size of the task facing the Addicks. They've beaten Liverpool, Bolton and the Arse amongst others with only 1 defeat ( against Spurs 1-2 ) in the last 7 home games.
I hear people say that we haven't got a hope today but, although we haven't beaten them for a while, our last two games have been draws and overall, after 24 seasons in the same League, we're only a single defeat down to them with the Addicks getting 18 wins, Everton 19 and with 10 games drawn.
If you want to look at just the recent history in the Premiership its even better with Everton 6 wins, Charlton 6, Draws 3.
And at Goodison, although our last win was in 2005, it stands at Everton 11 wins, Charlton 6 and draws 6 with Premiership records being Everton 4 wins, Charlton 3 and no draws.
Pards: Put Faye on Arteta
One reason for their sucess this season has been that Everton had avoided injury problems as proved by the fact that they have 7 players who have started 30 or more Premiership games. The Addicks only have 2, Carson and the Elk over 30 appearances. Unfortunately for them thay have lost two young strikers James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe but can offer James Beattie the strike role alongside top scorer Johnson, with 11. However, its midfielder Arteta that remains the key to Everton and my advice to Pards is to play Amdy Faye to mark him. To demonstrate his importance Arteta has got 8 goals in the Premiership so far and he's also got the most yellow cards as well with 8.
300th Premiership Game
A bit of a milestone then but one that the Herminator and Big Bent wouldn't be taking part in. A pity 'cause Marcus is, a bit like Romario, just one goal short of a milestone and he've enjoyed a run-out against his old mates. So short of scoring power, will it be ZiZi or Lisbie joining our Darren up front? Jerry also seems to have a fitness problem which could see the return of Rommerdahl.
One things for sure, the back 5 will be Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara and Thatcher.
The midfield has been our problem all season and once again it's looking a bit bare. Rommers or Ambrose out wide on the right, Song and Faye in the middle and Thomas or Ambrose on the left.
Striker Darren Bent, of course, with ZiZi just behind.
Everyone, including Lawrenson, seems to see a defeat. And the obvious reason that the board are not organising any special trips to Goodison is they don't think its worth it. But.....this is football, and in such a tense encounter who can say what will happen. A defeat is more than likely but we'll get a point, trust me...