Five Reasons Why Everton Will Beat Sunderland at Goodison Park
David Moyes' side are sitting pretty in fourth at present, with just one defeat from their opening 10 matches and an unbeaten home record to preserve.
The Black Cats, on the other hand, find themselves just four points off the drop zone after a dismal 1-0 home defeat to lowly Aston Villa.
But can the men from Tyne and Wear pick up their first win away from home against the in-form Toffees?
Here's five reasons why the Blues will be taking all three points away from Goodison Park.
Nikica Jelavic Is Desperate for a Goal
When Nikica Jelavic was substituted in the dying moments of last weekend's draw with Fulham, his body language suggested he'd just endured the worst 89 minutes of his career.
With his head down and shoulders hunched, he trudged over to the bench. He didn't even bother to applaud the traveling support, despite his side leading 2-1 at the time.
The reason for his negative body language? Another game without a goal.
The Croatian hit-man lives to find the back of the net-something he's achieved regularly since moving to Goodison Park in January.
His last goal came in the 2-2 draw away at Wigan on October 6th. But three games without a goal is too long for the ex-Rangers man.
He'll be desperate to regain his form in front of goal against Sunderland. And with in-form wingers Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas supplying him, expect Jelavic to find himself on the score-sheet once again.
Sunderland Can't Hit the Target
It's official. Sunderland have hit the target fewer times than any other club in the Premier League this season.
Despite being able to call on the attacking talents of Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean, Sunderland aren't testing opposition goalkeepers as much as they should be, let alone scoring enough goals.
Steven Fletcher remains their only goalscorer this season, having netted five of their six league goals. The other was an own goal by Demba Ba in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Everton's defence has shown signs of weakness in recent matches but Phil Jagielka and the rest of the back four will be too well-drilled for the Black Cats' misfiring forward-line.
Baines and Pienaar v. Johnson and Bardsley
Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar are one of the most productive partnerships in modern soccer.
Between them they create the majority of Everton's chances, tormenting defenders up and down the country with intricate passing and movement down the left-hand side.
Sunderland's Phil Bardsley isn't a bad defender, but with the attack-minded Adam Johnson directly in front of him, the former Manchester United man stands little chance of stopping one of the Premier League's most deadly duos.
Baines and Pienaar will deliver plenty of quality on Saturday and don't be surprised if Jelavic takes full advantage.
Fellaini Is Head and Shoulders Above Cattermole
Apart from the obvious height difference, it's the ability and form of Marouane Fellaini which make him immediately stand out against Lee Cattermole.
Sunderland's skipper is a tenacious midfielder, capable of brilliant battling displays but also reckless tackles and downright stupidity.
In Fellaini, Cattermole faces an opponent not only in the form of his life, but one relishing his advanced role as a goal-scoring attacking midfielder.
The former Middlesbrough man stands no chance in the air against the big Belgian and he's likely to get frustrated with Fellaini's superior strength and technique.
In what could well be the most important one-on-one battle of the match, there's only one winner.
The Blues Are Brimming with Confidence
Despite conceding a late equaliser to Fulham last weekend, David Moyes' side will be full of belief heading into Sunderland's visit.
The Blues have adopted an exciting, attacking style this season, creating chances for fun and finding the back of the net more regularly than in recent seasons.
They've also shown an impressive capacity to fight back from losing positions, exhibiting both their ability as footballers and an admirable team spirit.
Sunderland are without a win on the road this season and haven't picked up three points since a narrow 1-0 victory over Wigan in September.
They've also suffered demoralising home defeats to Villa and Middlesbrough in their last two games—and haven't scored a single goal in their last three in all competitions.
And if all of that isn't enough, David Moyes has never lost to Sunderland during his time on the blue half of Merseyside.
It may not be the 7-1 victory of 2007, but expect a comfortable win for Moyes' boys at Goodison Park.
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