Everton vs Cardiff 15:00
Everton’s last outing in the league was a 1-0 win over West Ham thanks to a late Romelu Lukaku goal. Roberto Martinez will be hoping his players can bounce back immediately after their 4-1 loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup last weekend.
Midfielder James McCarthy has been an excellent addition to Martinez’s squad following his arrival from Wigan, adding dynamism and bite to the Toffee’s engine room. Indeed, no Everton player has attempted more tackles than his 106 and he remains the only Everton player to have surpassed the 100-mark for attempted challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
It’s easy to see why Everton fans are keen for Gerard Deulofeu to extend his stay at Goodison Park given the impact the youngster has had since arriving from Barcelona. His flair is complemented by an ability to fashion some dangerous end product, showcased by the fact that he still has the best shot accuracy rate of any Everton player this season. He’s worked the ‘keeper with 73.7% of his 19 shots to date. Deulofeu is 6/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Ross Barkley has appeared fatigued to some in recent weeks but the young Everton tyro is still capable of turning a game on it’s head with one of his powerful surges from midfield. He ranks fourth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles with 59 and will no doubt be looking to test out the Cardiff defence and add to this total this weekend.
Continuing on the thread of Everton youngsters, John Stones has been solidifying himself in Roberto Martinez’s first team plans this season with some excellent displays for one so young. He’s given away a foul on average just once every 156 minutes he’s been on the pitch in the league this season, a sign of mature head on young shoulders.
Cardiff secured a much-needed three points last time out as they beat Fuham 3-1 at Cardiff City Stadium. The impressive Steven Caulker grabbed a brace and Ole Gunner Solksjaer will have been pleased to see his side garner a precious win against a team also attempting to fight their way out of the relegation zone.
Caulker will have his hands full this weekend and will need to be on top form to contain the imposing threat of Romelu Lukaku. All signs indicate that the Englishman is up to the task though given that he’s won an excellent 79.1% of his 43 challenges this term, a squad-best for players to have attempted more than five tackles.
Jordon Mutch is key to Cardiff’s ability to strike in the opposition area and his side will likely look to him this weekend to test out the Everton defence. He racked up the joint highest number of on-target attempts with three according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Cardiff will no doubt also be looking to Peter Whittingham to help spark their attack against an organized Everton outfit this weekend. Whittingham has been an important creative outlet for Cardiff this season, ranking second only behind Mutch for assists with four, as well as a squad-best 510 completed passes in the opponent’s half. Whittingham is 13/2 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
David Marshall has been one of the outstanding ‘keepers in the league this season, rightly gaining plaudits for some superb performances. It’s unsurprising to see therefore that he leads the league in saves with 116, and is so far the only stopper to have moved into triple figures for the season.