Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for today's match as both Everton and West Bromwich Albion
go looking for their first wins of the new Premier League season.
We'll start, as ever, by looking at our hosts this afternoon. Everton are still adjusting to life under Roberto Martinez
after over a decade under the stewardship of David Moyes. Martinez will do well to replicate the success Moyes achieved at Goodison Park, and today represents the first chance that he will have to showcase his side to the home Everton fans in a competitive match.
The early signs seem to be good for the Toffees. They didn't manage a win against Norwich on the opening day, but a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road is nothing to be ashamed of and they played some nice football as well. Martinez will be happy to know that the positives of that performance outweighed the negatives, although he won't need telling that there is still room for improvement.
One such positive for Everton from the Norwich match was the performance of Ross Barkley
. The youngster may not have been in the side at all had Martinez had a fully-fit squad, but he certainly played himself into contention for a regular starting spot with his performance, which included a fine goal. He is expected to start again today.
will be feeling some pressure this afternoon, as is only natural ahead of your first home game in charge of a new club. If he has been doing his homework on Everton's history, that pressure may well have increased when he discovered that no Everton manager has lost on his home debut since Ian Buchan's side suffered defeat at the hands of Blackpool way back in 1956.
However, the much more recent past will serve to lift his spirits. The match against Norwich was his first competitive game in charge of the club, and his style of football was plain to see. He has already stamped his mark on the team's philosophy, if not their personnel. Last week they enjoyed 67% possession - the most of any Premier League team on opening weekend - while their 88% pass completion was only bettered by Manchester City. To put that in context to the David Moyes era, their average pass completion last season was just 79%.
Everton have also been formidable in front of their own fans for quite some time now. They lost only once at Goodison in the league last season and have won their last six Premier League matches at home. In doing so, they have also kept clean sheets in their last five, so their fans are used to winning and not conceding.
They go into today's match slap bang in the middle of the table in 10th place. Their draw with Norwich was the only draw of the opening set of fixtures and they will be eager to get their first win under their belts as soon as possible - ideally this afternoon.
West Brom, meanwhile, suffered a poor start to the season. Many would have been expecting them to come away with at least a point at home to Southampton, but a late Rickie Lambert penalty gave the Saints the win and consigned West Brom to defeat on the opening day.
Manager Steve Clarke
will be desperate to shake off the disappointment of an opening day loss as quickly as possible, but the fixture list has not been kind in throwing up what will be a very tough match for his side today. Their record at Goodison Park is far from exemplary, having won just once here in 14 visits since 1979. The only glimmer of light in that statistic for the Baggies is that the solitary win was a 4-1 drubbing as recently as 2010.
West Brom's extended form will also be of concern to Clarke. They had what must be deemed as a successful season last year, finishing eighth in the table, but their late-season form left a lot to be desired. They have only won once in their last 10 games, drawing three and losing six.
An alarming statistic for West Brom fans centres around former striker Romelu Lukaku. Baggies look away now. Without Lukaku's 17 league goals last season, West Brom would have finished 17th - just one place above the relegation zone. You don't need me to tell you that Lukaku is no longer there having returned to Chelsea, and they have already suffered some trouble in the goals department after Nicolas Anelka
walked out of training claiming to have retired earlier this week. The Frenchman has been given compassionate leave following the death of his agent and it remains to be seen whether he will carry out his decision to end his time in the game. If he does, West Brom could lack a clinical touch up front this season.
Clarke has done some decent business this week, however, bringing in Scott Sinclair
on a season-long loan from Man City. Sinclair looked to be one of the brightest prospects in the league while at Swansea, but his development as a player has been stunted since his move to City and subsequent lack of first team football. A move to West Brom is a good one for all involved.
It's not just in attack that West Brom may struggle, however. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last five matches, conceding 14 goals in that time at an average of just under three per game. Clarke has plenty to look at if he wants to match his eighth-placed finish from last season.
Right, the team news is in from both sides and the headline comes from the West Brom camp as they name new signing Scott Sinclair
on the bench. Matej Vydra is also on the bench for the Baggies, who name Shane Long and Markus Rosenberg up front. Everton, meanwhile, are unchanged. Full team news coming right up.
EVERTON STARTING XI: Howard; Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Coleman; Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar, Barkley, Mirallas; Jelavic
EVERTON SUBS: Joel, Heitinga, Kone, Deulofeu, Naismith, Stones, Anichebe
WEST BROM STARTING XI: Foster; Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell, Jones; Yacob, Morisson, Dorrans, Mulumbu; Rosenberg, Long,
WEST BROM SUBS: Popov, Sinclair, Brunt, Lugano, Daniels, Vydra, Berahino
No surprises from the Everton camp really then. Martinez had no real need to change the side that drew with Norwich as the performance was good enough even if they didn't get the result they would have hoped for. The only changes would have been enforced, with the main concern being Distin, but the big centre-back has recovered from a knock in time to start.
Everton have dangermen all over the field, so this will be a tough match for West Brom. In Baines and Coleman they have two very good attacking full-backs, with the latter scoring last week and the former always capable of creating chances. Their midfield is also very creative and, if Barkley performs as he did against Norwich, threats same come from any of the five in midfield. Fellaini played a deeper role against the Canaries, but expect him to move up in support of Jelavic if the match stays goalless for a long time.
Speaking of goals, the man charged with getting them for the hosts today is once again Nikica Jelavic. He hasn't had the best of times in competitive games recently, but he was in good form in pre-season so will be hoping to rediscover his scoring form this afternoon. If he doesn't, an eager Arouna Kone will be waiting for his chance on the sidelines.
As for West Brom, I am quite surprised that neither Vydra or Sinclair are starting this afternoon. Clarke must feel that they aren't ready yet having only recently signed for the club, but I must say that both pose a bigger threat to Everton's goal than Rosenberg. I fully expect one or both of them to make an appearance at some point.
The day's early kickoff has just finished, and normal service has been resumed for Arsenal after last week's horror start at home to Aston Villa. They have beaten Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski (2), while Darren Bent netted for the hosts.
A total of 14 points separated these sides in the final league table from last season. Both teams had very good years, with Everton finishing sixth, nine points behind fifth-placed Spurs and just above Merseyside rivals Liverpool, while the Baggies finished eighth, one place below Liverpool.
With West Brom seemingly weakened by the losses of Lukaku and now Anelka, and Everton adapting to life under a new manager for the first time in more than 10 years, it will be interesting to see how the points gap shapes up at the end of this season. If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that neither team will finish as high in the league, but I can still see the gap increasing between the two sides.
For Everton, their home form will be crucial again this season. It was the main reason behind their success last year and Martinez will be desperate to get off to a good start today. I mentioned earlier that they only lost once at home last season, and that was their lowest tally since they won the title back in 1986-87.
PREDICTION: We're 10 minutes from kickoff at Goodison, which means that it is time for my match prediction! Everton have a good record in front of their own fans in recent seasons and, even though the man in charge is now different, I see then continuing that today. I struggle to see West Brom threatening too much until the likes of Sinclair or Vydra come on, so I am going to go for a 2-0 win to Everton.
Last season this fixture was won by the home side on both occasions. West Brom won the first encounter 2-0, while Everton won the reverse match at Goodison 2-1. Leghton Baines was on the scoresheet twice on that occasion.
Overall, these two sides have met each other 119 times, with both teams winning 45 matches each with 29 draws. West Brom just edge the historical record on goal difference, however, netting 193 times compared to Everton's 178.
COMPETITION: Do you think that Baines, Fellaini or, as I did, Anelka (d'oh!) will play a big part this season? Sports Mole are running a league on the official Premier League Fantasy Football website with a prize of £100 to whoever tops the table come May. It is completely free to play, so get involved! Just go on the Fantasy Football site, pick your team and enter the code 12799-455963 in the private leagues section.
Back to real life football now, though, and we are nearing kickoff at Goodison. A new era begins under Martinez today, can his side produce a performance to make the home fans optimistic and, more importantly, can they grab their first win of the season?
Martinez has been unequivocal in his responses to bids from Manchester United for duo Fellaini and Baines, and I think he has handled the situation well. He needs to keep hold of that duo if he side are to push for Europe again this campaign.
There has been a very early goal elsewhere in the Premier League, with Sunderland taking the lead against Southampton through Emanuele Giaccherini. You can follow live commentaries from the other Premier League matches here
Long takes an early tumble right on the edge of the box following a challenge from Distin, but the ref is having none of it. I can't help but think that that would have been given if it occurred in the centre circle. It would have been soft, but you see such fouls given time and time again nowadays.
SAVE! Foster is forced into a good, stretching save from a Pienaar header. The ball came in from the right and Pienaar did well to get ahead of his man before sending a stooping header towards the far corner. It doesn't initially looked to be a dangerous header as he didn't quite catch it right, but Foster is at full stretch to keep it out.
Fellaini sends a long, searching ball up the middle of the park and for a moment it looks as if Jelavic has beaten the offside trap to create a good chance, but the linesman’s flag is up. That was close, but the correct decision I think.
Fellaini is playing in his deeper role again this afternoon, and it does look like that will be his usual position under Martinez. With fewer high balls upfield they don’t need his physical presence up front as much as they did last season and instead he is acting as a protector of the back four. Whether that will change when/if Gibson returns to the side remains to be seen, but for now Fellaini is not as big a goal threat as he was last season.
Long just doesn’t give the opposition defenders a moments rest. He may not be the most technically gifted player in the league, but you will go some way to find a better battler than him. Defenders know that they will be in for a busy afternoon with Long against them.
Everton are in control of this match at the moment. They are knocking the ball about quite nicely, although those two Pienaar efforts are the only time they have looked remotely threatening, and they were both fairly comfortable for Foster.
So far it has been a similar match to Everton’s draw against Norwich on the opening day. Plenty of possession for the Toffees, but very few chances. Some may call it unambitious, others may call it patient, but it doesn’t matter as long as they get points on the board!
Barkley ghosts past Yacob with ease before firing a low effort towards the bottom corner. We saw what he can do from range last weekend, but he doesn’t catch this one anywhere near as well and it trickles a couple of yards wide.
UPDATE: Hull have got their Premier League season up and running! Robbie Brady is the man who gets on the scoresheet as they take a 1-0 lead against Norwich.
SHOT! West Brom have their best spell of the match as Ridgewell finds Dorrans behind the defence, but he just can’t take it in his stride and is forced to turn back and lay the ball off to Mulumbu, who fires a shot wide. Better from the visitors.
SHOT! After a good spell of passing from West Brom gave them their last chance, this is pure route one football. A goal kick is nodded on by Long, who leaps like a salmon to beat Jagielka in the air. It bounces to Morrison, who tries an ambitious dipping volley from 30 yards. It is a decent effort, but Howard is never going to be troubled as it goes over his bar.
YELLOW CARD! Oh that is a silly booking for Mulumbu to pick up. He just punches the ball away from an Everton foot while challenging, and now the Toffees have a free kick in a promising position.
Mirallas lines the free kick up but only hits it into the wall. The ball bounces back out to Baines, who hits a fine first-time half volley a couple of yards wide. The keeper wasn’t worried, but that was pretty close from the England international.
Nice build up play from Everton but once again the final part is missing. Barkley is the guilty party this time as he picks up the ball 30 yards out, only to blaze it over. Martinez may just take him aside at half time to tell him to look for teammates more often as his first thought seems to be to shoot whenever he gets the ball.
SAVE! Best save of the match so far as Foster keeps out a drilled Mirallas effort. It was more fluid passing from Everton that set up the chance, working the ball from left to right before Coleman gave the ball back to Mirallas on the edge of the box.
Fellaini advances with the ball and has Jelavic completely free in the middle for what would be a glorious chance, but the Belgian holds on to it for far too long and West Brom get back to eventually scramble it clear.
UPDATE: Palace have followed in the footsteps of Hull by getting their season underway this afternoon. They have taken a 1-0 lead against Stoke through Marouane Chamakh.
CLOSE! Coleman looks to be a real attacking threat for Everton already this season. He picks up a pass from Pienaar and immediately turns, runs at his man and squeezes a shot out that fizzes just wide.
Rosenberg is not happy with a tackle from Leon Osman, and the replays show why. The Everton man made a clean challenge initially, but followed through with his trailing leg to make that tackle look a lot more ugly. It was nothing malicious, but that is no consolation for Rosenberg.
Pienaar and Mirallas have just switched wings for the last five minutes of this half as they look to make a breakthrough before half time. One of Everton's greatest strengths is the versatility they have in those positions.
Morrison gets the ball midway inside the Everton half and immediately turns and looks to shoot from range. He isn't closed down by the defence so proceeds to go for goal, but slices his shot some way wide.
The fourth official indicates two minutes of added time at the end of this match. Will we have a late opener before the break? Everton have a chance here with a corner.
SCRAMBLE! Osman wins the initial header from the corner, and his effort is cleared from just in front of Foster. The ball falls to Jagielka, who has two efforts that are both blocked by the defence before the Baggies eventually get it clear.
HALF TIME: Everton 0-0 West Brom
Referee Roger East ends an intriguing first half. Everton have enjoyed the lion's share of possession and have looked most like scoring, but West Brom keeper Ben Foster
has only had one really tough save to make - tipping over a fierce drive from Kevin Mirallas
Some Everton fans were worried after the Norwich game that, for all of their possession, they didn't do enough in the final third. To be honest, that first half would have done nothing to appease such worries. Everton haven't really looked that threatening and haven't created as many chances as their possession suggests.
Having said that, the Toffees are still more or less in control of this match. Tim Howard has had very little to do between the sticks and West Brom's strike duo of Long and Rosenberg are finding things pretty difficult at the moment. The Baggies are still very much in the game, but Steve Clarke
will want to see a little more incisiveness from his side as they just haven't looked like scoring so far.
Elsewhere in the league, the goals haven't exactly been flying in. Hull lead Norwich 1-0 but have since been reduced to 10 men, while Sunderland and Crystal Palace are also a goal to the good against Southampton and Stoke respectively.
As far as Martinez is concerned, I'm sure he will be happy with the first 45 minutes of his home debut in charge of Everton. His side have lacked a bit of class in the final third, but they are playing just as he would like them too everywhere else. They are passing the ball nicely and at times West Brom have struggled to deal with how fluid the Toffees' passing has been. He will want more of the same in the second half, with the added bonus of a goal of course.
Mirallas' stinging shot from the edge of the box is the closest that either side have come, but there have been a couple of other half-chances for both teams. Pienaar tested Foster twice in quick succession early on, while Coleman also forced the West Brom keeper into a smart low save.
For the Baggies, their sights of goal have been less promising. Morrison has seen two long range efforts fly off target, while Mulumbu also blazed one over. Tim Howard is yet to be really tested this afternoon, and he will be hoping that that continues in the second half.
KICKOFF: Roger East blows his whistle to get the second half underway as West Brom kick us off. No changes for either side. Will we see a goal in this half?
Jelavic's troubles seem to be continuing in this match. He isn't getting any luck and, to be fair, isn't helping himself much either. He has been caught offside numerous times already today, and his killer instinct seems to have deserted him.
Both teams are just struggling to find their rhythm in the second half at the moment. Fellaini seems to have moved into a more advanced position and, for the first time today, we have just seen a long diagonal ball directed at the Belgian. That was a common play for Everton under Moyes, but Martinez hasn't really used it so far.
That is a stroke of luck for Everton. A West Brom free kick is curled towards the back post and clips off the hip of Fellaini. It is heading for the bottom corner, but Jelavic is there just in front of the line to stop it and hoof it clear.
Baines whips a fabulous low ball into the box but it is just a yard or so away from the outstretched foot of Jelavic. That was the type of ball that is impossible to defend, turning the defenders towards their own goal and just begging for any sort of touch.
DOUBLE SAVE! Foster is called into action twice in very quick succession as he first gets down well to stop Barkley's drilled effort from the edge of the box before recovering quickly to deny Fellaini from close range. The second save was a very important one, but he may have been annoyed at only parrying the first effort into a dangerous area.
That is a very bemusing decision from the ref. Osman catches a volley flush and it looks to be causing Foster all sorts of problems until it takes a huge deflection off Billy Jones to send it well wide. Everyone in the ground is expecting a corner, but the ref points for a goal kick. I can only assume that he thought it came off an Everton player, because that was one of the clearest corners I have ever seen!
UPDATE: There has been another goal at the Britannia Stadium, and this time it has gone to the hosts. They are now drawing 1-1 with Crystal Palace.
UPDATE: Scratch that, Stoke are now 2-1 up! Two goals in quick succession from Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross have turned that match upside down and Palace find themselves behind.
Long's control just lets him down at the vital moment! Mulumbu threads a good ball into the striker who, if he can take it in his stride, has a glorious chance to break the deadlock. The ball just hits the back of his foot, however, allowing Distin to get a tackle in. That could have been a big chance for West Brom.
SAVE! More good build up play from Everton creates another shooting chance, but again it is fairly comfortable for Foster. Mirallas was played in down the left side of the area before turning back and curling a shot towards the near post. No keeper at this level should be beaten at his near post from that angle, and Foster isn't as he makes the save, holding onto the ball for good measure.
SAVE! That is the first thing that Howard has really had to do today. Some nice one-touch passing from the visitors results in Rosenberg teeing up Morrison, whose effort from range is on target and needs a good, flying save from Howard to stop it.
WEST BROM SUB: Steve Clarke makes his first change of the day as Matej Vydra comes on for Markus Rosenberg. Vydra came on at the Hawthorns last week so this isn't his debut for the club, but he is still a new boy that the fans will be excited to see.
Vydra almost makes an immediate impact as he gets on the end of Mulumbu's pass before advancing into the box. Distin is in close attendance and both players go to ground after colliding, but Vydra bounces back to his feet without asking for a penalty. He lays it off to Jones, whose first touch is too heavy and the chance goes begging.
Everton have a corner but, with 20 minutes left locked at 0-0 at home, they only send three players into the box. That is baffling and shows a distinct lack of ambition. Distin and Jagielka both stayed back for that one.
EVERTON SUBS: Double change from Martinez as he looks to address that lack of ambition. On come Arouna Kone and Steven Naismith in place of Jelavic and Mirallas. This is Kone's home debut for Everton - could he make a telling contribution in the final 20 minutes or so?
Ouch! Naimsith's first action is to go in hard, high and late on Ridgewell, who goes down in a heap after clearing the ball. That was not a good tackle by any stretch of the imagination and, had he not only just come on, I think that would have been a yellow card at least.
SAVE! Everton fans will be getting worried now as West Brom have started testing Howard. Naismith is robbed in possession by Morrison, who stabs the ball across to Long. The striker sweeps a first time effort goalwards, but it lacks the power to beat Howard, who still has to get down well to make the save.
You can tell that the home fans are beginning to get restless now. Pienaar opts to go for goal from range instead of passing it to Baines, who has made a typically marauding run down the left, but his shot is blocked. Another visit to the West Brom final third ends with nothing.
This is a big worry for West Brom. Ben Foster has just gone down with nobody around him, and it doesn't look like he will be able to continue. I'm not sure how or when that injury occurred.
WEST BROM SUB: Sure enough, on comes Luke Daniels for Foster. This is his first senior match for the Baggies, and he has 12 minutes to keep Everton out and save at least a point for his side.
WEST BROM SUB: That change is quickly followed by West Brom's third and final sub of the afternoon. Chris Brunt is the man entering the fray, and he comes on in place of Long.
Daniels's first test sees him race out of goal to sweep up a loose ball with Kone bearing down on him. That was a good decision from the young keeper, and he had to get it spot on.
OFF THE POST! Everton are inches away from tacking the lead late on! Jagielka pings a brilliant diagonal ball to Fellaini, who beats the offside trap, chests it down and pokes it underneath Foster. He has done everything right, but is unlucky to see the ball come back off the inside of the post. What a chance, by far the best moment of the match so far.
YELLOW CARD! Barkley picks up a yellow card in his haste to get the ball back from Mulumbu. He slid in from behind and got a foot to the ball so can feel hard done by to enter the referee's book there.
Fellaini has caused problems on the rare occasions he has moved into an attacking position today, but still he is being kept in a holding role. It should be time to throw the kitchen sink at West Brom for Everton now, but they look unambitious and unwilling to commit many men forward. I wonder whether Martinez is still in the mindset of Wigan manager where a points against West Brom would be a good result as his side look fairly content with a 0-0 draw at the moment.
SAVE! Coleman cuts inside and looks to send the keeper the wrong way with the eyes as he drags it towards the near post while looking at the far corner. The ball gets a slight touch off Ridgewell on the way through, which makes Daniels's low save even more impressive.
Finally, there seems to be a bit of urgency about Everton now, but is it too little too late?
The fans roar in approval as the fourth official holds up a board signalling four minutes of added time. Could West Brom suffer from a late goal for a second consecutive week?
OFF THE BAR! Oh Everton are so close to taking the lead in very fortuitous circumstances! Coleman looks to send a deep cross into the box, but it turns out to be more of a shot and has Daniels backtracking. The young keeper was well beaten, but the ball came back down off the bar.
Billy Jones makes a brilliant block inside the box to deny Barkley, I think it was. The homes fans screamed for a penalty, but replays show that the ref got it right as it hit the West Brom defender's chest.
FULL TIME: Everton 0-0 West Brom
The referee blows the final whistle to end a frustrating afternoon for Everton. Once again, they had plenty of possession but could not turn it into goals. West Brom were better in the second half, but they will consider themselves fortunate to have come away with a point as, in terms of general play, they were second best for much of this match. For Everton, their fans were noticeably unhappy at their lack of ability to find an opening, and even more so at the lack of ambition and urgency shown in the closing stages. Plenty to mull over for Martinez, but he will take some solace in the fact that he remains unbeaten as Everton manager.
Right, that is all we have time for this afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for today's match. We couldn't bring you any goals in this particular match as West Brom held out for a 0-0 draw at Goodison. Stick around for a match report and reaction to the match, which will be on site shortly. Analysis will be up within half an hour, while if you haven't yet had your fill of live football, join Jack Prescott who is covering Aston Villa vs. Liverpool here
. From me, though, it is goodbye!