Everton will be keen to continue their fantastic run of form and maintain their season target of a top four finish, when they host rockbottom Sunderland at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
The Toffees have exceeded all expectations so far this season, losing only one of their 17 league matches. Roberto Martinez's men have also won four of their last five games - which include away wins at Manchester United and Swansea City - and are now unbeaten in the last 10.
Everton are currently outside the top four only on goal difference, courtesy of their impressive run of results of late, and can now finish Boxing Day on the second spot, depending on results elsewhere. The Merseyside outfit remains unbeaten at home in the league this year and they also boast the best defensive record in the top flight this season.
The club is set to receive a massive Christmas gift ahead of this tie, as talisman and long-time Manchester United target Leighton Baines could make a return from the sidelines tonight.
Sunderland, on the other hand, now have the much-dreaded 'bottom of the league at Christmas' tag on them. Gus Poyet's side are currently four points below safety and are staring down the barrel.
However, the Black Cats have recently managed a three-match unbeaten run, and last week's 2-1 win over title contenders Chelsea in the Capital One Cup has instilled some confidence in the players, as they hope to pull off an unlikely escape from the drop zone in the second half of the season.
- Out - Deulofeu (hamstring), Gibson, Kone (both knee)
- Doubtful - Baines (toe), Pienaar (unspecified), Jelavic (hamstring)
- Out - Brown (suspended), Cuellar (hip), Westwood (shoulder)
- Doubtful - O'Shea (shoulder)
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.30pm IST start on Thursday night, with no live coverage in India. But you can also catch all the action live online by clicking HERE. US viewers click HERE. To catch the action in Australia, click HERE. To live stream the match in the Middle East and North Africa, click HERE.
Expected lineups: Everton - Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar; Lukaku
Sunderland - Mannone; Celustka, O'Shea, Roberge, Bardsley; Cattermole, Ki; Giachherini, Larsson, Borini; Altidore
Prediction: 4-1 to Everton
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