Both Sunderland and Everton will be desperate for a win at the Stadium of Light today – but both have very different reasons for wanting to secure all three points (Watch live at 10:07 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).
The visitors are currently fifth, one point behind Arsenal but with a vital game in hand. A win today puts Everton in fourth, in a position to qualify for the Champions League. The last time the Toffees accomplished such a feat was in 2005, when they lost out in the qualifiers to Villarreal.
It should be an easy task for Everton against Sunderland. The Premier League’s bottom side likely needs a miracle to reach safety. The Black Cats haven’t won since February 15, when they beat Southampton 1-0, and have since picked up just a point from their last eight matches. After last weekend’s 5-1 blowout at Tottenham, it looks increasingly likely that Sunderland will be the latest side to reach a Cup final only to be relegated in the same season.
Gus Poyet makes a few changes to the team that lost to Spurs last time out. The Sunderland boss is making attempts to tighten up at the back, leaving out Santiago Vergini and Carlos Cuéllar. John O’Shea returns to the starting XI, as do Jack Colback and Conor Wickham. Liam Bridcutt also misses out.
It’s just one change for Roberto Martínez, who starts Gerard Deulofeu in place of Kevin Mirallas, who is on the bench for Everton. Leon Osman, subbed out early against Arsenal last week, starts once more, with Ross Barkley back on the bench. Tim Howard is in goal, of course, and Romelu Lukaku starts up top.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, O’Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Ki, Colback, Johnson, Wickham, Borini
Subs: Larsson, Gardner, Cuellar, Vergini, Giaccherini, Scocco, Ustari
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Stones, Distin, McCarthy, Barry, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Lukaku
Subs: Joel, Hibbert, McGeady, Mirallas, Barkley, Garbutt, Alcaraz