Everton will be looking to extend their recent run of good form with a win against newly-promoted Middlesbrough at Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
Under new boss Ronald Koeman, the Toffees have picked up 10 out of a possible 12 points.
Aitor Karanka will be hoping that his Boro side can bounce back from last week’s 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace and add to their five points.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) September 16, 2016
Gareth Barry is set to make his 600th Premier League appearance, with Koeman praising the veteran midfielder’s amazing achievement.
The Merseyside manager has also suggested that striker Enner Valencia, on loan from West Ham, could be handed his Everton debut on Saturday.
Romelu Lukaku put a summer of transfer speculation behind him on Monday night, grabbing an 11-minute hat-trick in Everton’s 3-0 won over Sunderland.
The Belgian striker, who hasn’t scored a league goal at Goodison since March, might have rediscovered his scoring touch at the worst time from Middlesbrough’s point of view.
Ross Barkley however needs to put in a positive performance if he is to keep his place in the team, having been criticised for his performance against Sunderland by Koeman, who said that he has to raise all aspects of his game.
— Aitor Karanka (@Karanka) September 15, 2016
Middlesbrough, meanwhile, are sweating on the fitness of Cristhian Stuani and Jordan Rhodes. The Uruguay international, who has two goals in three games this season, suffered a groin problem in the defeat to Palace.
Rhodes may have to wait a while longer for his first appearance of the season, after taking a knock to his knee in Thursday’s training session.
It will be hugely interesting to see how Boro’s backline copes with the strength and power of Lukaku as well as the creativity and delivery of Yannick Bolasie.
Calum Chambers, on loan from Arsenal, and summer signing Bernardo Espinosa are two players Karanka could likely call upon to deal with Everton’s attacking talent.
Potential Everton Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg; Coleman, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Barry; Bolasie, Barkley, Valencia; Lukaku
Potential Middlesbrough Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Valdes; Barragan, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Forshaw; Fischer, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo