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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 1 August, 2014

Premier League preview: Merseyside battles it out for seventh

Both Everton and Liverpool possess the league’s in-form number sevens, but can they keep it up against Stoke and Fulham.

Image: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport

Stoke v Everton

EVERTON CAN EXTEND their unbeaten run in the English Premier League to seven matches tonight, when they travel to face Stoke City.

David Moyes’ side are sternly holding onto seventh place on the table, two points ahead of bitter rivals Liverpool, and it would be a notable success if they can finish higher than their Merseyside neighbours.

Everton’s most recent result – a 4-0 thrashing of Fulham – came off the back of their dramatic 4-4 draw with league leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford.

By comparison, Stoke have won just one of their past eight in the Premier League – with that victory coming over relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers – in an ominous sign that Tony Pulis’ side have effectively switched off with three games remaining.

They have, however, played four of the top five in that run, while also meeting in-form Wigan, but forthcoming opponents do not get any easier for Stoke, as they take on two relegation-threatened teams in QPR and Bolton during in the run-in.

But, with a game in hand, Pulis’ side are still within reach of a top-10 finish in the table should they turn their form around in a hurry.

And goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was taking the positives out of their last-start 1-1 draw with top-four side Arsenal ahead of their clash against Everton.

“I thought we performed superbly well against a very good Arsenal side,” Begovic said.

“We can be happy with the performance and happy with the point because it keeps us ticking along.

“We were desperate to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing result against Newcastle United, and on another day we could have been standing here with a win behind us.

“We had one or two close calls at the end where the ball just didn’t drop for us, but we can’t complain about a point against Arsenal. It sets us up nicely for Tuesday’s game.”

Stoke are missing Andy Wilkinson (hamstring), Salif Diao (knee) and Mamady Sidibe (knee) due to injury, while Leighton Baines (hamstring) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) will be absent for the visitors.

Luis Suarez completes his hat-trick against Norwich. / Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Liverpool v Fulham

Liverpool can continue their late-season resurgence in the English Premier League when they tackle a struggling Fulham on Tuesday.

The Anfield outfit defeated Norwich 3-0 away from home on Saturday courtesy of a sublime hat-trick from Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, while west

London club Fulham were on the wrong end of a 4-0 belting at Everton.

However, Martin Jol’s men could draw level with their eighth-placed opponents on 49 points should they triumph on Merseyside this week.

And in good news for the visitors, Liverpool’s record at home in 2012 is strangely deplorable.

Given they were once a fixture among the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’, it is hard to believe Kenny Dalglish’s men have won just one of their seven home league games this year.

And with an FA Cup final date against Chelsea coming up on Saturday, it would be no surprise if Dalglish’s side had their eye on Wembley rather than their inconsequential meeting with Fulham.

But captain Steven Gerrard said their impending Cup decider was no reason to turn in a below-par performance on Tuesday.

“We’ve got to beat Fulham first, we’ll take each game as it comes and we want to go into the cup final in good form,” Gerrard said.

“We’re excited, we’ve done really well in the cups this year and we deserve to be in the final but it would be silly and naive to focus on the final with league games to come.”

Fulham will be aiming to score at Anfield for the first time in six matches on Tuesday, and are also eyeing their first win at the venue in the club’s history.

In selection news, Liverpool are without midfielders Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva due to knee injuries.

Fulham are missing defenders Stephen Kelly (thumb) and Zdenek Grygera (knee), forward Bryan Ruiz (fractured metatarsal), midfielder Steve Sidwell (hernia).

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