Everton entertain QPR on Saturday, with the Blues looking to build the pressure on the three London clubs immediately above them in the Premier League table.
Saturday marks the start of the most significant 8 days in the season for Everton. Three Premier League fixtures, two of which are away from home, will either consign Everton to the “also rans” in mid-table, or propel them into the midst of the battle for Champions League football. Before the away trips to Arsenal and Sunderland, Everton must ensure they do not slip up against relegation threatened QPR at Goodison Park.
David Moyes’ team will be buoyed by the return of Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar from suspension, and with Tony Hibbert making his long-awaited comeback from injury for the u21s in midweek, Everton have a full squad to choose from at this vital stage of the season. Ross Barkley is likely to drop back down to the substitutes bench, as is Johnny Heitinga from his midfield role.
Expected XI: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin; Osman, Gibson, Mirallas, Pienaar; Fellaini, Anichebe.
Several players are in excellent form, with Kevin Mirallas among the goals in recent weeks, although David Moyes continues to demand more from his Belgium wing wizard.
“He’s had a lot of niggles. He’s nearly not quite adapted to what the Premier League means and how the games go.
“I look at him and he’s signalling to me with 15 minutes to go – so maybe he’s not quite got what’s required at Everton or the Premier League.
“What he has got in abundance though is pace, ability, he can score goals, he can take you on and he can play in two or three different positions.
“But we’re finding that we’re getting 60 or 70 minutes into games and thinking will he keep going? Will he pick up an injury? Will he lose concentration?
“His ability is not in question but there are a lot of players who can take time to get used to the Premier League.”
“He missed three months through the middle, so he’s had a bit at the start and now at the end. So maybe he’s not quite got up to match speed all the time and we may have to deal with it to the end of the season.”
“When you stay at Everton for a time it gets you used to it. Look at how Marouane Fellaini has recently played with injuries, look at Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard.
“That mentality grows on you when you have been here a while, so when you’re new to it maybe he’s not aware that’s what you do at Everton.
Our archive footage this week comes from 1985 and the day Everton clinched the 1st Division title with a 2-0 win over QPR.