Sunderland simply cannot beat Everton. They are the definition of a bogey team and after 13 attempts we must try and overturn this statistic.
Everton will be boosted after their dramatic penalty shoot out against Chelsea but still hover dangerously in the league above the bottom three.
Sunderland have lost three in a row and they must keep hold of their leads and take chances if they want to challenge for Europe.
Vital Quotes: Bruce
“Everyone uses the inswinging free-kick nowadays where basically they`re shooting,” said Bruce.
“When you`re doing that and you are man to man, we`re finding our big headers of the ball are way out on the other side of the penalty area.
“We could possibly go zonal and mark areas.
“That`s one thing we might do from free-kicks.
“When we`ve been man-to-man, there`s been a collection of people not doing their jobs by letting players go.
“We`ve been chewing their heads off in training this week and hopefully they`ll be a little bit more focused tomorrow.”
“The results have been disappointing but the football we`ve played against Chelsea, Stoke and Totenham has been good.
“It`s important we stay confident with it and hope we can keep playing the way we are and pick up a few results. I`m sure we can.
“We`ve got to improve defensively from set pieces.
“It`s been a huge disappointment considering the teams we`ve been playing against. In open play we`re alright.”
Everton Team News:
Jack Rodwell returns to the team after recovering from a groin injury quickly.
Louis Saha and Cahill are both doubts but could make the squad by tomorrow.
Player to watch: Cahill
Even if the Australian is not playing he will find a way to score. He is our arch enemy as he always seems to score against us.
Hopefully he is not risked by Moyes as this would be a massive boost for us but reports seem to suggest he will be fit.
Sunderland Team News:
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon is a doubt after picking up a knock in training and may face a late fitness test.
Youngster Billy Knott is in the squad for the first time but the game comes too soon for Turner, Cattermole and Campbell.
Elmo may be drafted in to replace the doubtful Steeeeed.
Player to watch: Sessegnon
He may be the difference between us getting a point or all three. We need to take our chances against Everton and he may be the man to unlock their defence.
Match Facts & Stats
Everton have won their last three home matches against the Black Cats, scoring 12 goals in the process.
The Black Cats have not won a Premier League match in the month of February since 2009; a 2-0 win at home to Stoke, some nine games ago.
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistant referees: Trevor Massey & Adam Watts
Fourth official: Mike Jones
Everton 2 – 1 Sunderland
I always have a bad feeling about playing Everton and after 13 attempts without success you can see why!
Sunderland may be without Gordon, but this may be a good thing as Mignolet has impressed before. If we can defend chances and not throw away leads we may nick a draw but with the return of Saha I think they have the edge.
Next Fixtures: Arsenal (A)
We head to Arsenal for another hard away trip.