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Preview: Tough Toffees On Poyet's Christmas Agenda

The festive period football begins with a trip to a barren hunting ground for Sunderland.

Mark Runnacles

Sunderland Team News

Wes Brown begins a three-match suspension after he was sent off against Norwich City, and is likely to be deputised by Valentine Roberge.

Gus Poyet has another defensive dilemma as John O'Shea has a shoulder problem that could keep him out - meaning a potential rare start for Modibo Diakite should the Republic of Ireland international not prove his fitness.

Further forward, Sunderland could well shuffle their attacking options after a stalemate at home, but Jozy Altidore is likely to remain at the focal point of attack.

Everton Team News

Roberto Martinez has confirmed that Leighton Baines is closing in on a return and it could come in this game.

Nikica Jelavic missed the win over Swansea City due to a hamstring concern and the few days' rest should allow him to be available, whilst Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar will have to overcome knocks sustained in Sunday's 2-1 victory.

Darron Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu remain absent through injury.

Predicted Lineups

<a href="" title="Click to view tactic"><img src="" alt="Everton vs Sunderland - Premier League - Football tactics and formations" /></a>

Sunderland: Mannone; Celustka, O'Shea, Roberge, Bardsley; Cattermole; Johnson, Larsson, Ki, Giaccherini; Altidore

Everton: Howard; Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith; Lukaku

Key Matchup: Lee Cattermole vs Ross Barkley

The Everton youngster is quickly making a name for himself - producing moments and performances of real quality over the past few weeks.

With Cattermole expected to be deployed as the midfield anchor, he will need to protect his back four from Barkley's advances, but just as key will be building attacks from his deeper starting point. It almost goes without saying that if Sunderland can retain the ball, they can restrict the impact Barkley has on the game.

Recent Form: DWWDWW

Draw: Everton 3-3 Liverpool (Mirallas 8, Lukaku 72, 82; Coutinho 5, Suarez 19, Sturridge 89)

Win: Everton 4-0 Stoke City (Deulofeu 45, Coleman 49, Oviedo 58, Lukaku 79)

Win: Manchester United 0-1 Everton (Oviedo 86)

Draw: Arsenal 1-1 Everton (Ozil 80; Deulofeu 84)

Win: Everton 4-1 Fulham (Osman 18, Coleman 73, Barry 84, Mirallas 90; Berbatov pen 67)

Win: Swansea City 1-2 Everton (Oviedo og 70; Coleman 66, Barkley 84)

Last Time Around: Everton 2-1 Sunderland, 10/11/2012

In one of the better trips to Goodison Park in recent years, Adam Johnson swept Sunderland in front just before half-time.

Alas, home pressure was to ultimately tell as Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic struck within three minutes of each other to deny Sunderland a first win there since 1996.

The Ref: Lee Probert

The Wiltshire-based official has a balanced record when it comes to Sunderland this season - overseeing the derby win at the Stadium of Light as well as the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

What The Manager (And Manager's Assistant) Said

Charlie Oatway

We need to dust ourselves down and go again – that’s what we need at this stage.

We need to score goals to win games, but on the other side of it we’re playing better football and seeing more of the ball.

I think the fans can see what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve with the way we play.

We just need to finish the chances we create and get those goals to get the points we need.
We're convinced that if we carry on doing what we're doing then the boys will get those chances and finish them.

Roberto Martinez

When you have got a team that is capable of beating Man City in the manner that they did, you know they are going to get wins against anyone.

They have been going through a transitional period. The new manager has brought different ideas.

This league can be very tough. You are not going to get an outstanding win and then link it up with another two or three good results - it doesn't happen when you are down there.

But if you have got the quality to get that outstanding result, it shows you can get enough results coming strong in the final third of the season.

I see Sunderland being a team that grow into the season and finish the season really strongly.

The team is starting to get used to his ideas and his vision. I know he is going to bring a lot of success to Sunderland.

Roker Report Predicts

...that playing a bogey team when bang in form is going to be hard work, to say the least. But there is some hope to be salvaged from the performance against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup that, if focussed, this team can stifle teams looking to pass their way through opponents. Having said that, I think it will be too much of an ask, and we'll roll on down to South Wales on the back of a 2-1 defeat.

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