Premier League preview: Everton v Wigan
By Football News
Everton host Wigan Athletic on Wednesday as David Moyes' team seek to retain a place in the top four of the English Premier League.
Everton have belied their status as traditional slow starters with a strong show of form in the first half of the 2012/13 season, and find themselves mixing it with the heavyweights at the top of the standings.
They came from behind to secure a 2-1 win away to promoted club West Ham United on Saturday, with goals from Victor Anichebe and Steven Pienaar cancelling out an early Carlton Cole effort.
Cole was sent off in the second half of the match at Upton Park, and Everton also finished with 10 men after Darron Gibson received a straight red card in the 90th minute.
Gibson's impending suspension will leave Everton short-staffed in midfield, with Marouane Fellaini still to serve two games of a three-match ban after being sent off against Stoke City.
The win over West Ham saw Everton climb to fourth place on the table at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur, who were held 0-0 at home by Stoke City.
Everton are now level on 30 points with third-placed Arsenal, fifth-placed Spurs and West Brom in sixth.
With Arsenal's match at home to West Ham postponed due to a planned London Underground strike, Everton have a chance to climb as high as third should they claim all three points on Boxing Day, provided other results go their way.
Their next opponents at Goodison Park, Wigan, suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal on Saturday, Mikel Arteta's penalty sealing the result in the visitors' favour.
The defeat left Roberto Martinez's team 18th on the table, behind 17th-placed Southampton on goal difference and in the relegation zone at Christmas for the third consecutive season.
Martinez has defied the odds to guide his team to survival in each of the past two campaigns, and it appears another escape act may be necessary if the unfashionable club are to preserve their top-flight status.
As well as suspended duo Gibson and Fellaini, Everton are without fullback Tony Hibbert (calf) and forward Kevin Miralles (hamstring).
Wigan meanwhile will still be without several long-term absentees, including defender Adrian Lopez (hamstring) and midfielders Ben Watson (shin) and Albert Crusat (knee injury).
Another midfielder, Ryo Miyaichi, is reportedly nearing a return from an ankle problem, while defenders Ivan Ramis, Gary Caldwell (both hamstring) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin) are rated as having a 50 percent chance of being passed fit for the trip to Merseyside.