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EPL: Stoke City v Everton Preview
Our football scribe previews the EPL clash between Stoke and Everton.
This is always a fixture that seems to carry a sense of roughly hewn physicality. Two firmly established Premier League sides, Stoke and Everton are both currently attempting to redefine seasons that were threatening to go nowhere.
Stoke spent the first third of the season hovering in and around the relegation zone until a few results started to go their way. They have had the ungainly presence of Peter Crouch to thank for contributing in recent weeks. Everton’s shock 4-0 victory over City a few weeks back has revitalised their season, leading many to believe that some more investment could see them become a real force in the league once again.
English Premier League | Wednesday 1 February | bet365 Stadium | 22:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Stoke City 7/4 | Draw 22/10 | Everton 15/10
Despite his recent heroics, Crouch may have to be satisfied with a spot on the bench this weekend, with Saido Berahino included in the squad for the first time since signing.
The tearaway speedster has waited a long time for this opportunity and will no doubt provide a bit of incision for the Potters. His movement could open up more space for the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic to exploit. This could prove critical to Everton’s new 3-4-3 formation.
The rest of the Stoke side has an extremely solid look. Glen Johnson, Bruno Martins Indi, Ryan Shawcross and Erik Pieters make for an experienced back four that will feel comfortable in dealing with the physical presence of Romelu Lukaku.
Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam are not the most athletic pairing you will find in the middle of the field. Adam will be happy for the speedier presence of Saido Berahino, whom he will no doubt look to unleash with that rapier-like passing ability.
Morgan Schneiderlin has yet to start a Premier League game for the Toffees since his arrival; such has been the level of performance by the side since switching formation. Tom Davies has come into the side and completely reinvigorated the style. His resistance to being dubbed as either a purely holding player or number ten is a testament to the talent at his disposal.
It allows either James McCarthy or Gareth Barry slightly more time in the midfield areas. It also takes some of the creative pressure off of the likes of Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas.
Their back three could come under a considerable amount of pressure this week, especially if Berahino is at his best. His speed, coupled with the presence of Arnautovic and Shaqiri, could stretch this formation in a way it has yet to experience.
Stoke also always have the option of throwing in Crouch to shake things up. This match actually threatens to be something of a midweek humdinger amidst all the other huge encounters.
Verdict: Stoke Win (7/4)
I know that Everton have looked impressive of late. But I think that the signing of Berahino could very well be a watershed moment for Stoke. His pace and more direct goal threat will open up new channels of possibilities for the club. The home win is tipped.
Written by Damien Kayat