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Make Your Case: Roker Report v Royal Blue Mersey - Who will win this Saturday?

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With another Premier League game right on our doorstep - this time against an in-form Everton side - we've decided to invite our friends along from fellow SB Nation side Royal Blue Mersey to join in on this week's Make Your Case. And this time around the argument at play is very simple - why will your team win this Saturday? It's Evertonian Chris versus Roker Report's very own Podcast host Damian Brown - let the battle commence!

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Chris from Royal Blue Mersey - Everton will win!

Many games are won and lost in the midfield battle, and it's there that we find the biggest discrepancy in talent and ability between Everton and Sunderland.

Didier Ndong is a promising young player, but after that, the Black Cats rely on the likes of Jack Rodwell, Sebastian Larsson, and of course Everton cast-off Darron Gibson.

Meanwhile, they're countered by the young legs of Ross Barkley and Tom Davies, the all-encompassing play of Idrissa Gueye, as well as the sturdy Morgan Schneiderlin.

Gueye is one of the division's leaders in tackles and interceptions, while Schneiderlin's distribution since joining Everton has been nothing short of sublime. Sunderland will be running the risk of being overrun in the middle of the park on Saturday.

The midfield advantage for Everton means that they should have no problem getting the ball forward to Romelu Lukaku, who is in excellent form and will be looking to exploit Sunderland's back line. Long rumored for Everton, Lamine Kone is a good defender in his own right, but the sum of Sunderland's parts defensively, particularly without Patrick van Aanholt, will have a tough task in Everton's big Belgian.

Everton tend to play down to lower table opponents (the recent scoreless draw against Boro being a good example), and there's no doubt that David Moyes will want to cook something special up for his former team. Indeed, there could be several ex-Evertonians in Sunderland's starting lineup hoping to prove themselves against the team that let them go.

Thanks to the ageless Jermain Defoe and Everton's inconsistency at the back, it would not surprise me if Sunderland get a goal or two, but Everton have hopes of qualifying for the Europa League this season, and should take the three points here.

Damian from Roker Report - Sunderland Will Win!

Sunderland are a conundrum. They puzzle the most dedicated disciple and neutral pundit alike; 'draw this, win that, lose this one miserably...' They are unbalanced and raw and nigh-on unpredictable.

Part of the joy I and we all experience in following Sunderland AFC stems from that very fact. The Sun will rise every day and it will set every day but SAFC will always arrive fashionably late, if at all.

Everton are a good team. They have players more than capable of savaging a squad that could be described as almost in its infancy and that is certainly vulnerable - it's a Sunderland side contending with injuries, with a drove of young, old and new faces, and that is suffering from a palpable tension brought on by the fear of relegation.

They aren't just a good team but they are a good model for a team. They have a rich and marvelous history their fans can be proud of and a strong squad capable of beating any opponent on their day.

But...

Our job is to make for damn sure that Saturday is not "their day" - the day upon which they can beat any team. Our job is to make this fight sore and gritty and unrelenting.

As a pessimist it is often difficult for me to take positives from the first twenty/fourty five/sixty minutes of a lost match and apply those to the overarching progress of the squad. It is difficult for many of us to see growth in defeat and that is natural because - and there is no shame or surprise in this - we are facing our darkest hour of recent years.

Fourteen games remain. If the great push doesn't start here then it may never start.

I can't honestly say we should be beating Everton because I'm no man's fool but if we were to rephrase this question and boil it down to it's over-riding form, the question would be - "Do we have enough to throw at Everton to make this match ours for the taking?"

I could only answer yes. Wholeheartedly, at that.


So, Chris feels that Everton's quality in midfield will decide the game in their favour whilst Damian believes that Sunderland will win if we actually turn up for a good old-fashioned battle - who do you agree with? Let us know.