Everton and West Brom will go toe-to-toe at Goodison Park this Saturday.
Everton’s vain hopes of a top four finish seem all but extinguished in the wake of a humbling defeat at the hands of Spurs. Don’t let the 3-2 scoreline fool you, Everton were played off the park by Pochettino’s men and Koeman will welcome this chance to bounce back in front of their fanatical fans. West Brom - currently experiencing a wonderful season under the stern stewardship of Tony Pulis - were disappointingly defeated at home by Allardyce’s Palace. His side has a chance to put some pressure on Koeman for those last European berths.
Everton v West Brom | Saturday 11 March | Goodison Park | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Everton 13/20 | Draw 26/10 | West Brom 17/4
Koeman was guilty of showing far too much respect to Spurs at the weekend. His decision to bring Gareth Barry in alongside Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye effectively resulted in Everton playing with a strange 4-4-2 formation. They lacked width and left Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley marooned.
I expect Koeman to return to a more fluid 4-3-3 formation, with Barkley and perhaps Valencia playing on either side of Lukaku. Gueye and Schneiderlin will play in the holding roles, allowing Davies to try to get in between the lines.West Brom are a side that lacks pace in midfield and could be exploited by width.
Funes-Mori and Williams will have to have their wits about them against a West Brom side that sees every corner as an attacking opportunity. The one thing about not having Barry in the side is that the team loses a fair degree of height, especially considering the size of full-backs Baines and Coleman. Lukaku is in red-hot form and will fancy himself in a foot race against any of the West Brom back four.
I am choosing to look at the Palace result as something of an anomaly for West Brom. They have enjoyed an excellent season and I expect them to prove challenging for Everton this weekend. I think that the manner of that Spurs defeat will have affected the psychological makeup of Everton. The likely absence of Matty Phillips due to hamstring issues will be a concern to Pulis. But the sheer physicality of their side will prove troublesome to an Everton side that has perhaps deviated somewhat from being a physically imposing unit.
Jake Livermore and Steven Fletcher will toil and give a hundred percent; Brunt playing down that right-hand side should prove a persistent threat for the Toffees. Rondon has led the line exceptionally and would have noted just how easily Kane was able to create space last week. Watch out for Gareth McCauley and Matt Dawson from set-pieces as Pulis’ side go in search of their best ever Premier League finish.
Verdict: Double Chance West Brom to Win or Draw at 23/20
I really have the feeling that Pulis’ side could frustrate Everton and catch them on the counterattack, despite Koeman opting for a better-balanced side. Pulis’ side have actually done me a favour by being so disappointing last week, presenting a much bigger price than if they had pragmatically dispatched of Palace.
Written by Damien Kayat for