Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Everton
By Football News
Everton can take confidence from a comprehensive recent victory over Stoke City ahead of the two sides' meeting at the Britannia Stadium.
Roberto Martinez's men recorded a 4-0 home win over Stoke on November 30, courtesy of goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Seamus Coleman, Bryan Oviedo and Romelu Lukaku.
The Merseyside club have claimed 13 points out of a possible 18 since that match and will begin 2014 in fourth, having lost just twice in the Premier League this season - the fewest defeats of any top-flight team.
Stoke followed their reverse at Goodison Park with a four-match unbeaten league run, but their momentum has been severely dented by successive heavy reverses at the hands of Newcastle United and Tottenham.
Mark Hughes should at least have a few more options at his disposal on Wednesday.
Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were both dismissed as Stoke were beaten 5-1 at St James' Park, while Stephen Ireland and Andy Wilkinson were forced off at White Hart Lane during Sunday's 3-0 reverse.
However, Whelan and Wilson are back from suspension for the visit of Everton, and Ireland has shaken off the illness that led to his substitution against Tottenham.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and defender Robert Huth (knee) remain unavailable to Hughes, and Wilkinson (heel) is rated doubtful.
Everton will be without captain Phil Jagielka, who is facing up to four weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Jagielka joins Deulofeu (hamstring), Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson (both knee) on the sidelines, but Martinez was able to select Antolin Alcaraz and Leighton Baines for Sunday's 2-1 win over Southampton after both men returned to full fitness.
Everton's home form has gained much attention, with the club's surprise defeat to Sunderland on Thursday representing their first loss at Goodison Park since December 2012.
However, only three clubs - leaders Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham - can beat the 16 points Everton have claimed on the road this season.
The last two meetings between Stoke and Everton at the Britannia Stadium have ended in 1-1 draws, and the Merseysiders only won once in five Premier League visits to the ground.
Martinez has fond memories of Stoke's home, though, having celebrated top-flight survival there with former club Wigan Athletic on the final day of the 2010-11 season.