Stoke have improved attacking options with the returns of Bony and Diouf, while Berahino will be involved after signing recently. Despite this they’re still not at full strength with Butland, Cameron and Walters still out. Mark Hughes is expected to name an unchanged 11 from their draw with Man Utd, being his strongest available team at present, though Crouch is most at risk of being replaced. They’ve put together a decent patch of form at home and will feel they can beat Everton, a team they consider to be their equals. A draw isn’t a disaster but it doesn’t satisfy, despite facing an opponent in form. They’ll be balanced in their approach, trying to hit directly on the counter, but their attacking output is not prolific by any means. They’ll want to score first and take control of the contest, as from behind they’d find it hard to overturn a deficit without taking a lot of risks. It could be a game separated by a single goal, but both teams are capable of getting on the score sheet. If they lead, they’d be happy to lean back and counter, but they can’t afford to ease off completely and turn defensive in their approach.
Everton will once again be without Gueye, but they’ve coped without him superbly, even if it is a weakening. Koeman is expected to go with the same 11 that beat Crystal Palace in the previous game, with Joel Robles keeping his place in goal on merit. Schneiderlin is pressing for a starting berth, but the form of Davies is keeping him sidelined, having really impressed of late. They’ll travel to Stoke in excellent form and with plenty of belief, being unbeaten in five and having won their last three without conceding. They’ll try and hit on the break, which could make for a fairly stretched game, but they have decent attacking threat and will always pose a danger. A win is the aim and a result they believe in, but they wouldn’t be too disappointed to draw. Should they get ahead they’d become more defence oriented, inviting Stoke onto them before hitting at speed on the counter into vacant space. They’ll be confident in their defensive ability to close out another clean sheet, but if they do fall behind they’ll become more active in the final third, pushing men higher and making the game a lot more stretched, looking for a point from behind.
Verdict & Prediction
Stoke are in decent spirits heading into the game, being unbeaten in three and having come close to beating Man Utd last time out. They’ll welcome an Everton team they consider to be at least their equals looking for another win, with anything less not really satisfying in front of their own fans. They’ll believe a win is achievable and have a bit of momentum behind them at home, having lost on just one of their last nine outings. They can consolidate a top half place by winning and motivation won’t be in short supply as they try and reel in Everton in the table, being eight points behind.
Prediction: Stoke +0.00 Asian Handicap (same as Draw no bet)
Odds: 2.08 SBOBET