David Moyes’ side have suffered a dreadful start to the season with a run of three wins from their opening 10 games seeing them slide down the table to 17th. 10 points from a possible 30 represents a poor return for the Toffee’s and it seems that their challenge for a European place is in jeopardy. Goals have been a serious problem with Louis Saha the only experienced striker at the club after the sales of Jermaine Beckford and Yakubu in the summer. Tim Cahill has been deployed up front for much of the season so far but he has yet to find the net in 2011 which will be worrying Moyes and his back room staff. Saha’s finishing isn’t as sharp as it used to be with the Frenchman missing a hatful of chances against Newcastle last time out. The Merseysiders have recovered well from the loss of Mikel Arteta with on-loan Royston Drenthe and Leon Osman turning in some virtuoso displays in midfield alongside the ever improving Jack Rodwell. Despite those positives their home form needs to improve dramatically after one win in five at Goodison Park with their only victory coming against Wigan in September. In fact they’ve won only once more since then with their last seven games incurring six defeats and Moyes will need to get his side scoring if they are to pull away from the relegation zone.
Wolves on the other hand enjoyed their first win in eight games before the international break seeing off bottom of the table Wigan at Molineux to move up to 13th. They hadn’t enjoyed a victory since beating Fulham at the end of August and a run of six defeats from eight games saw confidence plummet in the Midland’s. However the performance and result will have provided a much needed lift for Mick McCarthy’s men ahead of their trip to Merseyside. Whilst the international break may have come at the wrong time as Wanderer’s try to build some momentum ahead of a tough festive period they will be boosted by the fact they managed to end their torrid run of form. The performances of Jamie O’Hara over the last month or so have been encouraging with his partnership with Kevin Doyle in the attacking third looking deadly against the Latics. The Irishman hasn’t found the net as regularly as has done in previous seasons but his unselfish running and link up play with O’Hara have softened the blow of losing Steven Fletcher to injury. The Scotland striker has been plauged by groin and calf problems but still managed to score three in five starts and is the clubs top scorer. His potential inclusion this weekend will be huge for McCarthy’s side as they seek back-t0-back wins for the first time since they won the opening two games of the season.
Everton – 17th
Lost 2-1 v Newcastle (A), Lost 1-0 v Manchester United (H), Lost 2-1 v Chelsea (H), Won 3-1 v Fulham (A), Lost 3-1 v Chelsea (A)
Potential Starting X11
24. T. Howard 2. T. Hibbert 5. J. Heitinga 15. S. Distin [C] 3. L. Baines 23. S. Coleman 26. J. Rodwell 25. M. Fellaini 11. R. Drenthe* 21. L. Osman 8. L. Saha
Everton have concerns over captain Phil Jagielka after he suffered a toe injury whilst on England duty. He missed both friendlies against Spain and Sweden and it looks likely he’ll be absent for the visit of Wolves this weekend.
Royston Drenthe – After a brief settling in period on Merseyside the on-loan Real Madrid midfielder has shone for the Toffee’s and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side last time at Newcastle. His pace and trickery down the right flank caused problems all afternoon for the Magpies and supporters will be hoping his endeavours won’t be in vain this on Saturday.
Everton suffered only one Premier League defeat at the hands of Wolves drawing three and winning the other two and are unbeaten in the last four meetings since a 2-1 loss back in 2004.
Wolves – 13th
Won 3-1 v Wigan (H), Lost 3-1 v Manchester City (A), Lost 5-2 v Manchester City (A), Drew 2-2 v Swansea (H), Lost 2-0 v West Brom (A)
Potential Starting X11
1. W. Hennessey 5. R. Stearman 14. R. Johnson [C] 16. C. Berra 11. S. Ward 12. S. Hunt 8. K. Henry 4. D. Edwards 17. M. Jarvis 26. J. O’Hara* 29. K. Doyle
Mick McCarthy could have defender Kevin Foley back after his recovery from an ankle injury but Ronald Zubar is still out with a groin strain. Apart from that Wolves have a clean bill of health.
Jamie O’Hara – Since being given the free role behind Doyle up front the former Tottenham playmaker has hit three goals in four games and looks back to his creative best. His intelligence on the ball and ability to pick a telling pass is something no other Wolves play possesses and his important on the field continues to grow each and every week.
Wolves haven’t lost on their last two visits to Goodison Park with both games ending in draws although they haven’t won in the blue half of Merseyside since a 3-2 victory back in 1979.
Last Time at Goodison Park
Premier League, 21st August 2010
Everton 1-1 Wolves
Referee: Lee Mason
Everton are suffering a real crisis of confidence at the moment and don’t look like a team who can go out and win a game. Their performance against Newcastle two weeks ago was encouraging but not enough and with their strikers faltering at every opportunity it could be another long afternoon on Merseyside. Wolves on the other hand will head to Goodison buoyed by their win over Wigan and will be desperate to make it consecutive wins for the first time since August and beat the Toffee’s on their own patch for the first time in 32 years.