Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Everton vs Brighton in the Premier League on January 2; kick-off 2pm
Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is expected to make his first appearance since August when Brighton visit on Sunday.
The England international has returned to fitness after a thigh problem but manager Rafael Benitez has to decide whether to start him or introduce him from the bench.
Everton’s Covid situation, which forced the postponement of their Boxing Day game against Burnley, is easing but the likes of Richarlison (calf), Andros Townsend (foot), Yerry Mina (calf) and Tom Davies (knee) are still absent.
Brighton midfielder Leandro Trossard could return after hamstring tightness forced him to miss the 1-1 draw at Chelsea in midweek.
Fellow forward Danny Welbeck is pushing for a start after scoring as a substitute at Stamford Bridge on his second appearance following a three-month injury absence.
Jurgen Locadia (illness) has returned to training and could feature but captain Lewis Dunk remains sidelined (knee), while striker Aaron Connolly is likely to be left out of Graham Potter’s squad for the third successive game as he edges closer to a loan move.
How to follow
Follow Everton vs Brighton in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after full-time.
Jones Knows predicts…
I can’t have Brighton in this one at 11/8 with Sky Bet, especially if Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit to play. He can be the difference-maker on his return bringing with him a 50 per cent win rate when he plays against 21 per cent when he’s missing.
Brighton don’t have someone of his ruthlessness or power in the final third which will continue to hold them back at putting together consistent winning runs. They have also won just one of their last 13 Premier League games, albeit drawing nine of those.
Brighton were remarkably impressive at Stamford Bridge in midweek but one area where they struggled was their inability to defend set-pieces. That probably stems from Lewis Dunk being missing. Over their last five fixtures, Brighton have shipped 5.2 shots per game from set-pieces, the third-highest average of all Premier League teams during that period.
With him still in the treatment room, Everton should be confident of getting plenty of joy from those areas.
My eyes have been drawn to the 10/11 on Michael Keane having one or more shots at goal. The Everton centre-back carries a big threat when venturing forward and has fired a shot in 12 of his 17 appearances this season.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Michael Keane to have 1+ shots (10/11 with Sky Bet)
Last time out…
● Everton are looking to secure their first league double over Brighton since 1980-81, following their 2-0 victory at the Amex Stadium back in August.
● Brighton have never won away against Everton in all competitions (D2 L7), losing all four of their Premier League visits to Goodison Park.
● Everton have lost their first league game in each of the last four calendar years, last having a longer such run of defeats between 1957 and 1963 (run of 7).
● Brighton have lost their first league game in just one of the last 12 calendar years (0-1 vs Wolves in 2016), with all four of their games in the Premier League ending in a draw.
● Brighton have won just two of their 17 Premier League games in the month of January (D7 L8). Of teams to have played at least 10 games in the month, only Hull City (11%) have a lower win rate than the Seagulls (12%).