Everton v Stoke - Saturday 15:00
Everton have enjoyed a fine start to their campaign, earning a draw against title hopefuls Spurs and an away victory at West Brom before thrashing Yeovil 4-0 in the League Cup. They’ve brought in Ashley Williams to replace John Stones, look set to keep Romelu Lukaku and with new-boy Yannick Bolasie impressing in a cameo against the Baggies, there’s every reason for Toffees fans to be optimistic moving forward.
Stoke put in a dominant midweek performance of their own as they beat Stevenage 4-0, but they were dominated by Man City during the first half last week and created very little themselves in a second-half period during which their opponents got a little sloppy. Whilst Everton aren’t quite the same force, Stoke will have to up their game at Goodison Park to get something out of this match.
Everton persisted with a back three against Yeovil, though they did revert to a standard 4-2-3-1 half an hour in against West Brom, after which their performance steadily improved. It will be difficult to predict if Ronald Koeman continues with this game plan, but in Williams he possesses a defender used to the system, plus the extra man at the back allows Leighton Baines license to get forward and use his excellent delivery.
Either way Everton should start with Lukaku centrally, flanked by Yannick Bolasie or Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu, who struggled up against the 6’5” centre-back Jonas Olsson. Koeman would be foolish to repeat the experiment against Stoke’s giant centre-backs Ryan Shawcross and Philipp Wollscheid. With trickery and service on both sides, Lukaku should be backed as the first goalscorer at 4.5.