STATS: Stoke vs Everton

Stoke City vs Everton 15:00

Stoke were unable to contain a resurgent Tottenham outfit as they went down 3-0 at White Hart Lane last time out. Mark Hughes will be hoping for a reaction from his side after an inconsistent campaign so far, but face a tough trip to Goodison Park on Thursday.

Mark Hughes’ side may have seen the match slip away from them after an efficient performance by Spurs but he will have been very pleased with the defensive commitment of his players nonetheless. Both Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross were ranked joint first, along with Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta, for total defensive contributions during the last round (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) with 24.

Steven N’Zonzi has remained a vital cog in the Stoke midfield for the entirety of the season to date and his influence shows no signs of diminishing. He leads the Stoke squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half by an enormous 239 (509 to Geoff Cameron’s 270), as well as winning a solid 71.4% of his 49 attempted challenges.

Peter Crouch remains one of Stoke’s most effective attacking outlets this season, the big striker always causing the opposition defence problems given his size and ability to bring those around him into play. Not only has he bagged three goals this term, he also leads the Potters’ squad for assists with 4 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Everton produced another solid display to cement their status as one of this season’s surprise packages under Roberto Martinez. Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman ensured another three points for the Toffees and keeps their hopes of a top four finish alive into the new year.

Seamus Coleman has been nothing short of a revelation this season, his personal rise mirroring that of his team under Roberto Martinez. Not only is Coleman the highest ranked attacking defender in the league, completing an excellent 69 attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses), he also won 78.7% of his 47 attempted challenges.

Rumours continue to circulate around the future of young tyro Ross Barkley, with a supposed £50m bid being considered by Manchester Utd. The club appear to be resolute in their determination not to sell the youngster though, something which must be music to the ears of Toffees fans given his performances this season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Barkley is the youngest player in the league to have surpassed 85 attacking contributions (crosses, dribbles, shots on goal, assists) this season, the 20-year old’s record currently sitting at 87.

Centre half Sylvain Distin has formed one of the most reliable and consistent defensive partnerships in the league with Phil Jagielka. Distin himself has been in excellent form once again this season, the veteran using all his nouse and experience to compensate for his many years at the hard end of elite football. He has conceded just 7 fouls this season, yet has committed to 41 challenges. Only one player in the league, Liverpool’s Phillippe Coutinho, has committed to more challenges whilst conceding fewer fouls.