Having enjoyed the rare luxury of a weekend off, Everton continue their fight for Premier League survival against Leicester City at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening.
The Toffees boosted their survival prospects with a 1-0 success over Manchester United last time out, while Brendan Rodgers’s side went down 2-1 to Newcastle United.
Only three days after coming out on the wrong end of the scoreline in their relegation six-pointer with Burnley, Frank Lampard’s Everton could hardly have responded in better fashion when Ralf Rangnick’s topsy-turvy Manchester United side came to town.
Anthony Gordon’s deflected winner off Harry Maguire – who else – was enough to secure what could end up being a priceless win for the Toffees in their bid to stay afloat in the division, with every member of the XI playing their part defensively to preserve their side’s slender advantage in the final moments.
Goodison Park erupted into delirium, with the home crowd fully aware that their side’s survival destiny is now in their own hands heading into the business end of the season as Everton sit 17th in the rankings – three points clear of recent conquerors Burnley with a game in hand.
Meetings with Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal could yet be pivotal in Everton’s bid to steer clear of danger – Lampard will likely already have one eye on the Merseyside derby on April 24 – but a new wave of confidence ought to overcome the Toffees ahead of Wednesday’s encounter.
Victory over the Red Devils marked Everton’s second top-flight win on the bounce at Goodison Park after a previous 1-0 success over Newcastle United, and Leicester are now travelling to a ground where Everton have won seven of their measly eight league fixtures this term.
Leicester are not the first team to feel the full effects of Bruno Guimaraes at Newcastle United, and they will probably not be the last, with the Brazilian lynchpin bringing Rodgers’s side crashing back down to earth with both goals in a 2-1 success for the Magpies.
Granted, Leicester made a raft of expected changes after their successful endeavours in the Europa Conference League, and they did draw first blood through Ademola Lookman, but Guimaraes poked through Kasper Schmeichel’s legs while on the ground for his equaliser before powering home a header five minutes into second-half stoppage time.
The Foxes’ five-game unbeaten streak in all competitions came to an end at St James’ Park, with that defeat all but killing off their hopes of challenging for Europe via their ninth-placed league position, but Rodgers is sure to prioritise continental glory in the Europa Conference League from here on in.
Rather alarmingly, only four sides have performed worse than Leicester away from home in the current Premier League season, with the Foxes winning just one of their last 10 in the top flight on unfamiliar territory and keeping just one clean sheet away from home all season.
Recent history does not favour Rodgers’s men ahead of the trip to Goodison Park either, with Everton taking seven points from the last nine available in meetings with Leicester, who could only record a 1-1 draw on the blue half of Merseyside last season.
Everton Premier League form:
Everton form (all competitions):
Leicester City Premier League form:
Leicester City form (all competitions):
We say: Everton 1-2 Leicester City
We would certainly not put it past Everton to get something from this game, with the Toffees enjoying their best moments at home this term while Leicester flatter to deceive on the road.
Lampard has also been granted a lengthy period to gear his side up for this battle, and they will be full of confidence after getting the better of Man United, but the majority of Leicester’s big-hitters are also well-rested from the weekend and will expect to edge a tight contest.