Match Preview: First Goodison outing for Roberto’s Blue Army

Everton vs West Bromwich Albion

As Roberto Martinez perfectly explained in his pre-match press conference, the weekend sees a shift in focus, as energy moves away from whose coming and whose going, towards full concentration on the upcoming ninety minutes and ensuring that Everton secure three precious Premier League points.

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It is has been another traumatic week on the blue half of Merseyside, with anger and disappointment directed towards former manager David Moyes and his current chargers at Old Trafford. But on Saturday all that is forgotten as Everton take on West Brom in the first competitive home fixture of the Roberto Martinez era.

The Blues got the season off to an ok start last week, drawing 2-2 away from home at Norwich City. If the result wasn’t all that Martinez would have wished for, he would have been delighted with the way his squad have taken on board his ideas and philosophy’s. Everton passed the ball superbly and at the end of the weekend had the highest possession percentage of any team. Martinez will look to continue in the same way, but will hope his players are able to improve on the final ball, which let them down on numerous occasions and allowed a fortunate Norwich City to escape with a point.

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Injuries aside, Everton are not expected to make many changes from the side that played last week. Darron Gibson is still only rated 50-50 and is unlikely to feature at the weekend as Everton remain cautious over pushing the Irishman too quickly. Sylvain Distin is another likely to miss out after twisting his ankle in a fall at Carrow Road. It appears to be a straight fight between John Stones and Johnny Heitinga for the starting role alongside Jagielka, with Stones expected to get the nod after his impressive pre-season campaign. Ross Barkley is certain to continue in his role at the peak of the midfield triangle.

Expected starting team: Howard; Baines, Coleman, Jagielka, Stones; Osman, Fellaini, Barkley; Pienaar, Mirallas, Jelavic.

Our classic action this week comes from late in the Championship winning season of 1984-85 and a 4-1 win for Everton over the Baggies. In front of just under 30,000 spectators the Toffees won thanks to goals from Ian Atkins, two from Graeme Sharp and one from the brilliant Kevin Sheedy.

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