Author Archives: Timothy Masters

Barclays Premier League previews, 20/12/14

Man City v Crystal Palace, 12:45
Judging by the noises coming from the City press conference on Friday there is a good chance we’ll see the reigning champions start this game without a recognised striker on the pitch due mainly to injuries, as well as a slight lack of faith in their youth players. A home game with Palace might be viewed by many as a good time to go with a second string team, but the London side are an obdurate and determined bunch and City can’t assume they’ll roll over their guests or they risk throwing away a couple of points at least in the race to catch Chelsea.
Manchester City have Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic all out, as well as Vincent Kompany, who has a recurring hamstring problem. Crystal Palace forward Marouane Chamakh is out and Joe Ledley is still nursing a hip injury but Adrian Mariappa is available.

Aston Villa v Man Utd, 15:00
Today, Villa host the form team in the Premier League, and with United not having lost at Villa Park since the opening day of the 95/96 season the omens are not good for the Midlanders at all. Villa have only lost one of their last six matches in the league, albeit that game being the most recent one, a derby against West Brom, but they’ll need something special from a Benteke or a Weimann if this is to be a win and not a very long afternoon for the home supporters.
Aston Villa will be shorn of eight players including Alan Hutton, Kieran Richardson and Tom Cleverley and while Fabian Delph will make his first start for a while Joe Cole, Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker, Philippe Senderos and Libor Kozak all also remain out. Manchester United pair Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo could return but Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind are injured.

Hull v Swansea, 15:00
After a bright start Swansea have slipped down the table in recent times, and three losses from their last five games have put the last Welsh side standing in the Premier League down to ninth after they’d been in the top four earlier in the campaign. There has been no such fluctuation for Hull, a team who’ve been in the bottom half virtually all year, and following a run of nine games without a win the Tigers find themselves second from bottom and in some serious strife going into this match.
Hull are light in the middle of the park as Tom Huddlestone begins a four-game suspension and Mohamed Diame is out with a knee injury, and there are issues in other position with Michael Dawson out and Hatem Ben Arfa is not expected to play for Hull again. Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is available, Federico Fernandez is fit to return, and Tom Carroll is back after being ineligible against parent club Tottenham last week.

QPR v West Brom, 15:00
Between them, Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion have amassed eight points less than league leaders Chelsea to this point in the season, and while the Baggies can probably point to their wage bill and transfer spend as a good reason why QPR have certainly spent enough to be higher than 18th in the table. A win for the home team will probably lift them out of the relegation zone for a few days at least, and with tougher tests to come they can’t afford not to the take maximum points here in honesty.
Queens Park Rangers top scorer Charlie Austin returns to the squad after serving a one-match ban, but Mauricio Isla has returned to Chile for personal reasons. West Brom defender Jonas Olsson and striker Georgios Samaras are the only confirmed absentees for the Baggies.

Southampton v Everton, 15:00
These two teams are definitely the ‘hipster choices’ for the Premier League over the last couple of years, and it’s odd to see Everton so far below Southampton in the league after the stability and success David Moyes brought to the club. The massive spend over the summer is not turning into huge success yet, but there is still time for Roberto Martinez and Romelu Lukaku to prove they are worth all the hype, and an away win over Southampton would be a great start down that road.
Southampton’s have some issues with Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama and Florin Gardos all suspended and Dusan Tadic and Jake Hesketh joining a long injury list, while Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle are both doubts today. Everton pair Kevin Mirallas and Leon Osman miss out with but Darron Gibson and James McCarthy might play.

Spurs v Burnley, 15:00
Ten places and nine points separate these two teams in the Barclays Premier League table, with Tottenham in their traditional seventh while Burnley are currently a hair above the relegation zone, and with many games coming in the next couple of weeks this is a match the home team can’t afford to drop points in. Spurs have only lost one of their last five league games and will fell happy about their chances, but the away team have lost the same number and won three in that period, so don’t expect Tottenham to roll over their guests.
Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor could be fit and Kyle Naughton’s return to the squad means Spurs have no other injury worries. For Burnley Michael Duff remains sidelined with a calf injury and Sam Vokes is close to a return, but is unlikely to be involved this weekend.

West Ham v Leicester, 15:00
Fourth in the table take on the bottom team in the Premier League, although the gap between West Ham and Chelsea at the very top is still huge and Leicester are closer to the top four than you might expect from a points point of view. Unfortunately for the popular Nigel Pearson, his side haven’t taken a win in ten games in the league and there is no real reason to think that will change today, and if that run of form goes on we may well see the Foxes boss sacked before 2014 is officially over, especially with Tony Pulis currently not in work.
West Ham midfielder Mark Noble will miss the game with an Achilles and the Hammers otherwise reported no fresh injury concerns. David Nugent could return for Leicester and Ritchie de Laet should also be available, but Kasper Schmeichel and Matthew Upson remain sidelined.

Capital One Cup previews, 17/12/14

Bournemouth v Liverpool, 19:45
After the worst start to a season for Liverpool since the 1960s the pressure unsurprisingly has grown on Brendan Rodgers and he’s starting to have to field more questions about morale and his position with every passing week. A game against Bournemouth is one of those perfect storm moments that comes along every now and then for a manager under fire, and if we’re honest all Rodgers can do is lose tonight as even a win won’t get him much credit due to the gap between the sides. Admittedly once he makes it into the semi-finals, should that happen, the Liverpool boss will be able to enjoy things a bit more, but for now this is all stick and no carrot.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is expected to name his strongest lineup in an attempt to get to the semis, with Callum Wilson in line to make his first League Cup. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will continue with Brad Jones in goal, and Mario Balotelli is pushing for a recall after impressing against Manchester United.

Spurs v Newcastle, 19:45
Newcastle got battered on the weekend, there is no polite way of saying it really, and that loss of momentum to another North London club won’t have put them in much of a winning mindset for this quarter-final. The Capital One Cup is a good chance for the Magpies to get some silverware and not compromise their league push too much, and with that in mind and the fact Spurs will probably rotate their squad you can expect the away team to go for it tonight, and put out the best eleven they have to offer in an attempt to make it into the last four.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has no new injury concerns ahead this match, with only Emmanuel Adebayor unavailable. Newcastle pair Steven Taylor and Moussa Sissoko are back after suspension but Daryl Janmaat will serve a ban and still injured are Tim Krul, Rob Elliot, Mehdi Abeid, Rolando Aarons, Ryan Taylor, Siem de Jong and Gabriel Obertan.

Carling Cup previews, 16/12/14

Sheffield Utd v Southampton, 19:45
The quarter finals of the League Cup, or Carling Cup, or Capital One Cup as it actually is this year are still probably a game too soon for the really big sides to put out the strongest eleven, but at this point there are only two games between them and Wembley if they can get a win and managers will begin to mix in the starters if they can. Sheffield United have got a decent time to play Southampton, who’ve definitely been in better spots than they are at the moment, coming in as they do off the back of four consecutive losses, and for that reason the League One side may just fancy an upset if they all play well and get a following wind.
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough will be without Paddy McCarthy and Chris O’Grady as they are both ineligible, but Chris Basham could start. Southampton top scorer Graziano Pelle is out through suspension, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jake Hesketh are doubts, but James Ward-Prowse could start.

Derby v Chelsea, 19:45
So far, Chelsea Football Club have collected 39 points from 16 league games in the top division, while Derby have managed 38 from 21 in the SkyBet Championship, and where normally the good form of the home side would be enough to speculate about a potential upset it seems like this evening might not be so shocking after all. The Chelsea reserves include players like Loic Remy, Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah, all both international quality players and individually worth more than the entire home team, and for Steve McLaren to mastermind a win tonight it will need a combination of perfect tactics and lots of luck.
Derby defender Ryan Shotton is suspended Chelsea after his red card against Middlesbrough, which could see Jake Buxton start at centre back alongside Richard Keogh. Cesc Fabregas is available for Chelsea again but Gary Cahill will be rested, while Petr Cech is set to deputise for Thibaut Courtois.

Premier League previews, 14/12/14

Sunday 14th December
Man Utd v Liverpool, 13:30
There will always be a degree of animosity between Manchester United and the team they followed as the dominant force in English football, but in recent years first Liverpool and then United themselves have had to accept that there are other teams looking to reach the summit, and ones that may have already surpassed them in some eyes. After last year the home fans will be happy to know their side comes into this game as favourites and on a much better run of form, and in truth a really heavy defeat for Liverpool could even see an outside chance of their manager losing his job coming into play.
Jonny Evans could start for Manchester United and both Phil Jones and Rafael return after two months, but Angel di Maria, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind remain sidelined. Liverpool’s Adam Lallana is available, as is Kolo Toure, and there is a chance Mario Balotelli could be involved after a six-match absence.

Swansea v Spurs, 16:00
Only Liverpool can come between these two teams in the table, and this match could well see both end the weekend above the Anfield club if things go their way. Neither team is capable of catching the top five immediately, but a win for Swansea could put them one point away from that promised land and would also shake some of the cobwebs from their loss to West Ham away, if they can manage it. Spurs come in off some poor form, namely a loss to Chelsea and a draw with Palace, but their record in Wales isn’t bad, and this game will be pretty tight I’d imagine.
Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is banned and although Neil Taylor returns from a one-match ban on-loan Spurs midfielder Tom Carroll is ineligible to play. Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has decisions to make, with Kyle Walker among those in contention, but Emmanuel Adebayor is out for personal reasons.

Monday 15th December
Everton v QPR, 20:00
It’s been a strange start to the season in the Premier League so far, with the good teams only thriving if they are the best and a few surprises at the top and in the lower reaches of the table at this point, and Everton are one of those teams not living up to expectation yet. The home side are currently thirteenth in the league and have won one of their last half-dozen games, not the kind of form you’d expect given how often their manager talks about progress and the top four, but they can at least feel happy that their guests have worse signs or omens hanging over their heads. QPR are yet to pick up a point on the road this season, and although a run of two wins and a draw in their last five games have lifted them to the top of the relegation they aren’t expected to do much in this game.
For the Mersey club, there is potentially a lot of good news with Steven Naismith, James McCarthy, Darron Gibson and John Stones all in with a chance of playing after injuries and only Christian Atsu not available. Rangers are hopeful Steven Caulker returns from a knock today, but have Adel Taraabt still listed as out with a groin injury and Sandro out until the new year.

Premier League previews, 13/12/14

Burnley v Southampton, 15:00
Neither of these sides is out of touch yet, but both Burnley and Southampton are in need of a slight boost if they want to keep pace with the teams above them. For the home fans that means keeping the dream of Premier League survival alive while Southampton supporters are thinking about the chance of a European adventure in the near future, and on form at least it should be close. Burnley have lost one of their last five, winning two in the process, while Southampton have been beaten in their last three games and need a win to get back on track.
Burnley remain without injured trio Michael Duff, Stephen Ward and Matt Taylor, and the game also comes too early for Sam Vokes. Southampton will again be without influential midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin Jay Rodriguez and Jack Cork, but Toby Alderweireld and James Ward-Prowse return to the squad after injury.

Chelsea v Hull, 15:00
The invincible run that the media were thinking Jose Mourinho’s side might go on was brought to an end by a Newcastle side that employed all the tricks so beloved of the Portuguese when it suits him, and after their first loss of the season Chelsea have a gilt-edged opportunity to get right back on track with a home game against a struggling Hull. Without a win in eight games, the Tigers have slipped down the table toward the relegation zone and need at least a point if they aren’t to finish the weekend in the bottom three.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Cesc Fabregas is unavailable through suspension, but Nemanja Matic returns from a ban. Hull striker Nikica Jelavic has recovered from illness and Gaston Ramirez is available again after missing the last three games through suspension.

Crystal Palace v Stoke, 15:00
Like a couple of Russell Brand’s ex-girlfriends, these two teams have recently been associated with a man that may or may not have some kind of infectious (football) disease, and as a result are currently in a period of rebuilding and reflection on how they can improve. Tony Pulis left a much greater mark upon Stoke than Palace, but both teams still bear the scars of having recently worked with the Welshman, and those stretched-play marks and the commitment to physicality will be on show for all to see today.
Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney is fit to start but Jason Puncheon is a doubt and Joe Ledley and Adrian Mariappa are both ruled out. Stoke’s Marc Muniesa is likely to miss out with a hamstring injury but Robert Huth and Marc Wilson are fit, and Jonathan Walters is expected to play despite an ongoing knee problem.

Leicester v Man City, 15:00
A few weeks ago it looked like Manchester City needed a miracle if they were to catch Chelsea by Christmas, but the London club have taken four points from their last nine possible and today go into their game with Hull only three clear at the top. City have this trip to Leicester to contend with and travel knowing their hosts haven’t won any of their last ten matches in the Premier League, so the away team will feel good about their chances of a win, and if anything other than that happens it will justifiably be considered something of a shock.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel suffered a broken metatarsal in training, but Ritchie de Laet is available and Paul Konchesky’s red card against Villa has been overturned. Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could play, while David Silva and Stevan Jovetic returned from injury against Roma in midweek.

Sunderland v West Ham, 15:00
Six wins in their last nine games and just four losses all year have left West Ham right in the top four mix at the start of the festive season, and if they make it to the end of January without a significant drop in form even the machinations of Sam Allardyce won’t be enough to stop people believing the Hammers are a serious Champions League threat, at least from a qualification point of view. Sunderland got a decent draw against a terrible Liverpool side last time out, and will hope for more of the same obduracy, but from a neutral point of view this will hopefully at least be a better game than that was.
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher is expected to start and Sebastian Coates is available but Emanuele Giaccherini and Billy Jones are not yet fit to return. West Ham will once again be without Mark Noble, but leading scorer Diafra Sakho could return to the starting line-up.

West Brom v Aston Villa, 15:00
While there is much talk about London vs Northern derbies, we have a midlands affair for your viewing pleasure today with the balance of power in that part of the world extremely uncertain at present. Coming into this game Villa haven’t lost in five matches, while West Brom haven’t managed a win over the same time, so you’d expect the away team to do well, but when local rivalry is involved form isn’t as much of a factor and this could be an extremely close game between two well-matched teams.
West Brom forward Victor Anichebe is a major doubt with Saido Berahino or Brown Ideye poised to deputise, Chris Brunt and Jonas Olsson are out, but Stephane Sessegnon could overcome a calf strain to play. Aston Villa pair Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph could return from injury, and Andi Weimann is available after a ban, but Tom Cleverley is a doubt and Ashley Westwood is absent until the New Year.

Arsenal v Newcastle, 17:30
The difference between these two teams in terms of budget, experience and quality may be large, but in the table only goal difference comes between them and if Newcastle get a win today they’ll go above Arsenal in the table, fair reward for some good work. The Gunners have lost three of their last five in the least while Newcastle have won the same number of their last five matches, but with Arsenal at home you’d expect the Champions League outfit to edge the game.
Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey on Saturday, as well as Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal who are injured, and Calum Chambers who is serving a one-match ban. Newcastle are without midfielder Moussa Sissoko and defender Steven Taylor but Fabricio Coloccini is expected to be fit, while midfielder Mehdi Abeid could return from a toe injury.

Europa League previews, 11/12/14

Dynamo Zagreb v Celtic, 18:00
This is the most dead of all the games involving British teams tonight, with Celtic not only already through as runners-up from Europa League Group D, but also incapable of catching Salzburg up ahead and therefore unable to change their position one iota. As a result the manager has left some key men behind for a rest, which might encourage a home team and crowd that, to this point, has only seen one win in five matches this European season, and could do with a ‘happy’ ending.
For Celtic, Captain Scott is rested, along with winger James Forrest, while Mikael Lustig, Jason Denayer and Charlie Mulgrew are still missing through injury.

Besiktas v Spurs, 18:00
This is a game mainly about pride for two teams already safely through to the knock-out stages of the Europa League, and after the Arsenal v Galatasaray result previous conceptions about Turkish pride when playing in front of their own fans are under some scrutiny. Besiktas would love to beat their English opponents and overtake them in the group table, but with the away side only needing a draw that might be a bit too much to ask from the home players.
Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor has not travelled with the squad but Kyle Walker could be set for a first appearance in nine months.For Besiktas, managed by former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, Demba Ba is out with a broken toe, and fellow striker Mustafa Pektemek is also unavailable.

Everton v Kuban Krasnodar, 20:05
It’s not often that Everton fans get to enjoy the sweet taste of European success, but it must be said that the team has done remarkably well in what looked a tough qualifying group in the Europa League and tonight is a chance to celebrate with a game that means nothing, but is also quite significant. Outplaying a team like Wolfsburg to the extent that Everton have the group won with a game in hand bodes well for the future of the club, and it’ll be fascinating to see who the Toffees draw in the next phase of the competition.
It is possible Bryan Oviedo will be fit for this game, but James McCarthy, Darron Gibson and Steven Naismith are all injured, as well as England full-back Jon Stones, who is set to be out until the New Year.

Champions League previews, 10/12/14

Roma v Man City, 19:45
Quite how you spend as much as City have on staff and players and win a domestic league as tough as the Barclays Premiership without making any impression on the continent is beyond many people, but so far the owners have shown remarkable patience, and in fairness to them the club could still qualify tonight from what is far from an easy group. Roma and CSKA were the icing on the cake once the Citizens had been drawn with Bayern again, and having to win in Rome in order to qualify for the next stage is a tough task for a team that has taken one victory from five games in this group so far.
City are the likes of Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Stevan Jovetic can feature this evening, but know Matija Nastasic and Sergio Aguero are out with their top scorer a long-term concern having tweaked his knee on the weekend.

Chelsea v Schalke, 19:45
Through no fault or reason of their own making, Chelsea Football Club were once again handed an extremely simple group in comparison to the other three English sides in the Champions League 2014/15, and as you’d expect from a team that spends as much as they do and hired the most expensive manager in English history they’ve turned that into safe qualification with a game to spare. Their guests still desperately need a win to have any chance of displacing Sporting in second place, which could add some spice especially if Mourinho decides to rotate, and with the Blues assured of top spot in the group there is no reason the Portuguese shouldn’t rest a few key players as he has nothing to lose.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will rest John Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian for this one, but might give Petr Cech a rare start. Cesc Fabregas is suspended for weekend game with Hull and may play as a result, while Nemanja Matic is available after serving a ban.

Champions League previews, 9/12/14

Liverpool v Basle. 19:45
When Liverpool fans complain about the way the season has gone so far and the part Brendan Rodgers has played in the decline since last year, there is always a sense that they probably don’t watch that many games or pay attention to the squad and injury news. Without making excuses for a manager who says some remarkably stupid things from time to time, losing the best player in Britain and then seeing the best English striker injured repeatedly would have an impact on any side in the Barclays Premier League, although reports in the media suggest that even the owners are losing patience, and the physio table won’t save the Northern Irishman if Liverpool should fail to win here, which would lead to their elimination from the Champions League.
Up front is where Liverpool are suffering in the absence of Sturridge and Balotelli but behind that they aren’t too badly off, injury-wise, with only Suso, Mama Sakho and Jon Flanagan joining the frontmen on the physio table.

Galatasaray v Arsenal, 19:45
Unlike their Northern rivals, Arsenal have already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League with a game left to play, and the decision for their manager is a rather more nuanced one with the heavy fixture list to come in the next few weeks in mind. Having seen his side lose to Stoke and then received more abuse from the ‘Arsenal faithful’, Arsene Wenger must decide whether he wants to commit to trying to win this game and getting top spot in the group, potentially avoiding the likes of Real, Bayern and PSG, or whether he’d like to conserve his resources and take his chances in the runners-up pool for the knockout stages.
Arsenal have a giant issue with their injury list including many first team players, and the most crucial crocks are probably Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere. Other than that Theo Walcott, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Debuchy and David Ospina are all out, with several not expected to feature again in 2014.

Barclays Premier League previews, 7-8/12/14

7th Dec 2014
West Ham v Swansea, 13:30
The fifth-placed team in the league host seventh here today in a game that could have a massive effect on both their seasons, if truth be told, especially with a few of the giants beginning to stir below them. Many of the top writers had predicted a tough year for these two teams, but so far West Ham are the most improved side in the Barclays Premier League on this same point in the calendar last season, and although I’m sure they aren’t thinking of it that way they need roughly sixteen points from their next twenty-four games to secure survival and another year at the top table.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is hopeful that Diafra Sakho and Alex Song will be available and Enner Valencia could start, but the game could be too soon for Mark Noble. Swansea defender Neil Taylor is suspended and Federico Fernandez remains sidelined by a calf injury.

Aston Villa v Leicester, 16:00
These two were also predicted to have a bit of a rough year before the action began, and in fairness to the tabloids clairvoyants Leicester currently sit bottom of the table and Villa aren’t that much above them, sitting fourteenth and six points better off than their guests going into the game, but far from being safe yet. Although they aren’t playing amazingly, Villa haven’t lost any of their last four matches and have star man Christian Benteke back and fit too, so they’ll feel like this is a chance to put a bigger gap between them and the relegation zone if anything.
Aston Villa forward Andreas Weimann will serve a one-match ban and Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos, Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker remain injured. Leicester captain Wes Morgan is banned so Liam Moore is likely to deputise David Nugent is a doubt with illness but Dean Hammond could return.

8th Dec 2014
Southampton v Man Utd, 20:00
From the start of the season until maybe a couple of weeks ago the joke that United were crap despite spending so much was like flogging a dead horse, and more often than not the likes of Southampton and Swansea were used as the stick in that scenario. In recent times though, the South coast outfit have come up against some trouble and come into this game without a win in three matches, while the heavy spending away team have won their last four, making the form guide look a little more traditional, and a little bit less embarrassing for the Barclays Premier League champions from 2012.
Manchester United will be without Angel di Maria, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Rafael, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard, but there is some good news Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans have an outside chance of being fit for this game. Southampton with give Toby Alderweireld a late fitness test, but Dusan Tadic, Mogan Schneiderlin, James Ward-Prowse, Jay Rodriguez and Jack Cork are all out.

Premier League previews, 4/12/14

Arsenal v Southampton, 19:45
There have been many great wins for Southampton since they started this particular Premier League adventure under Ronald Koeman, but some of the more sceptical observers have been waiting to see how they play against an Arsenal or Chelsea after observing wins over the likes of Sunderland, Hull and Leicester. Today is a big test for a team that was given the benefit of some frankly disgraceful refereeing against City and still couldn’t win, and if they pass it at the Emirates the naysayers will need to re-evaluate their arguments.
Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are doubtful, while Wojciech Szczesny and Mikel Arteta are still out. Southampton will be without Morgan Schneiderlin, who could be replaced by Jack Cork or Harry Reed.

Chelsea v Spurs, 19:45
There were a few gifts for Chelsea in their game with Sunderland, but not even a terrible ref could save their star striker from a suspension this week, although he should probably have got a red for trying to punt John O’Shea in the head. Today against Spurs the leaders will hope to get back on the winning path and stop City getting any closer than they are now, and even with Tottenham being way better away from home there is no reason why Chelsea should get anything less than a maximum this afternoon.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa is suspended, and defender Nathan Ake remains their only injury issue. Spurs will monitor Vlad Chiriches, but have Kyle Naughton available after a two-match ban.

Everton v Hull, 19:45
The away side are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, while the home team can barely scrape into the top 10 of the table at the moment and only really have the failings of Liverpool to cheer them, but this is a chance for Everton to make a bit of progress at least. Roberto Martinez had managed to steer his team through five unbeaten matches before their weekend loss to Tottenham, and if he can orchestrate a win today that will take the sting and disappointment away at a pleasingly fast rate for the Toffees.
Everton’s James McCarthy and Steven Naismith are both struggling, and Roberto Martinez reckons Naismith has an “outside chance” of playing some part. Hull have Gaston Ramirez is banned and Abel Hernandez on paternity leave.

Sunderland v Man City, 19:45
Last time out against the league leaders it’s fair to say Sunderland did pretty well, and might have deserved more than just a point against a Chelsea team that got the rub of the green from the ref, while City were given an official for their match against Southampton who barely seemed able to walk and breath at the same time, such was his stupidity. Hopefully no more Mike Jones-style mistakes will ruin the midweek program and we can see a proper match between two sides who both need points desperately right now.
Sunderland have defensive issues with Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt out, which could see Sebastian Coates could make his first league start of the season.Vincent Kompany is out with a hamstring injury and Eliaquim Mangala is banned for City.