Sunderland - Everton Preview: Toffees need a positive reaction after Leicester defeat

Roberto Martinez has demanded a positive reaction from his players after his side offered little resistance in Saturday's 3-1 defeat at the newly crowned champions.

Sunderland - Everton Preview: Toffees need a positive reaction after Leicester defeat
Everton take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday 11 May at 19:45 (BST). (Image: VAVEL)

Everton will travel to the Stadium of Light in need of a better performance and result after another disappointing defeat against champions Leicester City at the weekend, but it is going to be no easy task for the Blues as Sunderland hope to ensure their Premier League safety with a victory on Wednesday.

Head-to-head

Everton may head to the Stadium of Light in poor form after just one win in their last nine matches, but their recent record away at Sunderland offers reason to be optimistic for the Blues.

From their last 10 league visits to Wearside the Toffees have tasted defeat just once, while Sunderland have only been able to find the back of the net on six occasions. When the two sides met in early November, Everton produced one of their best performances of the season as the Toffees hit the Black Cats for six in a 6-2 victory at Goodison Park.

Arouna Kone scored a hat-trick the last time the two sides met. | Photo: Getty Images
Arouna Kone scored a hat-trick the last time the two sides met. | Photo: Getty Images

Everton need a positive reaction

The jubilation of scoring six goals for the first time since their 7-1 win over Sunderland in November 2007 has long since diminished and has been replaced by resentment and despair. A victory by a similar scoreline on Wednesday evening will still do little to appease Roberto Martinez's doubters.

Everton is a club that has aspirations - and the players capable - of challenging for the Champions League places, but the Toffees are 21 points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City. At the same time, they are only 10 points better off than Newcastle United and a defeat against Sunderland will see the Magpies in the Championship next season.

Roberto Martinez remains at the Goodison Park helm, but probably not for much longer. The Everton supporters have not been shy in voicing their anger and resentment and when you consider that Everton are currently 12th in the Premier League table and have recorded just one win in their last nine league games and just 10 all season, their frustration is understandable.

The Everton manager demanded a positive reaction from his players after his side offered little resistance in Saturday's 3-1 defeat at champions Leicester City in what was little more than a 90 minute warm-up to the trophy-lifting celebrations for the Foxes.

If the Toffees are going to respond on Wednesday night then Martinez needs top scorer Romelu Lukaku to find his scoring boots again. The striker has not scored in his last seven Premier League matches, his longest drought since January 2015 when he went eight games without a goal.

Everton fans protest at the final whistle against Bournemouth at Goodison Park. | Image: Getty Images
Everton fans protest at the final whistle against Bournemouth at Goodison Park. | Image: Getty Images

The opposition

Just when it seemed that Sunderland's struggles over the last few seasons were finally going to catch up with them after Sam Allardyce's men found themselves seven points from safety at the start of 2016.

However, Sunderland's entertaining 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Saturday, combined with Newcastle United's draw at Aston Villa and Norwich City's defeat to Manchester United, has put the Black Cats within touching distance of safety.

Allardyce's side are one point clear of Newcastle having played a game fewer than their rivals, while Norwich are four points behind and, like Sunderland, have two matches left to play. A victory over Everton would therefore seal survival for Sunderland, but a defeat would send the scrap for survival to the final day.

Team news

Ramiro Funes Mori is in contention to return to the Everton side after completing his three-match suspension following his dismissal in last month's Merseyside derby.

Gareth Barry could also make his return from a groin injury, but Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman (both hamstring) and Gerard Deulofeu (knee) are not expected to feature.

Sunderland defender Lamine Kone is fit after being replaced during the second-half against Chelsea last weekend, while Billy Jones remains a doubt with a hip injury.