Stoke City will be looking to start the New Year on a positive note with a good display against high flying Everton. However, when these two sides met in November, the visiting side tomorrow won by a scoreline of 4-0. It is probably the trajectory both have been on since that day that will have manager Mark Hughes worried the most, though, with Everton dropping only five points in the six games while his own side has dropped double that.
A win at Chelsea came either side of tied games against struggling Cardiff City and Hull City. Conceding eight goals in the last two games, although away and against current top teams, will have Hughes concerned. Not that Everton are ever likely to run up the score, but that 4-0 happened right after a three-game unbeaten run.
Some of the goals conceded recently can be blamed for the fact that two players and the manager were sent off against Newcastle. After being a goal up, who knows what might have happened had they managed to all keep their heads. Then, of course, the resulting suspensions for the game away to Tottenham Hotspur left Hughes with fewer options.
Against Everton, Hughes will have more players to chose from as his suspended guys return. Everton have their own injury list and with Tim Howard and Gareth Barry suspended, so it may be a great time for Hughes to get his side back on track.
Jason Bardwell is a Soccer writer for Rant Sport. You can follow him on Twitter @PACityboy or on www.facebook.com/jasonbardwell1979.