Blues will be without Barry Ferguson who is banned after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season against Blackburn. I would expect Carsley to take his place in the only change to the side from midweek.
Everton on the other hand are down to bare bones despite resting mosy of the first team in the Europa Cup on Thursday. The long list of players who may be missing on Sunday include Victor Anichebe, Mikael Arteta, Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Jack Rodwell, Joseph Yobo, Sylvain Distin, Dan Gosling and Jo. They will however be able to welcome back Tim Cahill who missed the Chelsea game through suspension.
The two sides last met in April 2008 when an 83rd minute free kick by Argentinian Mauro Zarate rescued a deserved point for Blues. Everton had taken the lead just five minutes earlier through Joleon Lescott. This game was also the setting for the first official Joys and Sorrows meet up…which was nice.
The earlier game at Goodison Park ended 3-1 to Everton after two goals in injury time one scored by our very own Lee Carsley. What chance of a repeat on Sunday?
As we all know Blues are the form team of the division with five straight wins. On the minus side we do not have a good recent record at Everton where we have not won since 1957.
Everton sit in 16th in the recent form league but have had tough fixtures during that period. They have not won since beating West Ham at the beginning of November and have won at home since 20th September.
So can it continue? Can this amazing run we are on keep going despite the fixtures getting a little harder. It might not be the worst time to be playing Everton who are struggling with injuries and have not won at home for some time. Having said that they are still a good side with an excellent manager so this is still a tough fixture. They have struggled particularly in defence where they have conceded thirty goals already. Therefore the key will be to stay positive and just go out and attack. A point will be fine in this fixture and I think that’s what we will get. There’s no pressure on us at the moment other than the fear of “Doing a Hull”.
We will miss Barry Ferguson who brings a calming influence to the midfield and is responsible for the improvement in our passing. Carsley will work hard and provide defensive cover but doesn’t have the same range in passing. He should allow Lee Bowyer to get forward more often though. It will be important for the wide players to provide the service to the front two who should get some joy running at Everton’s patchwork defence. At the other end Johnson and Dann will need to keep an eye on Saha who has been in great form of late and Tim Cahill is always dangerous.
My prediction. 2-2. Bowyer and Benitez for us. Enjoy the game and if you’re going wrap up well.