Everton will look to prolong their outside ambitions for the Champions League spots when a Leicester City side unbeaten under Craig Shakespeare travel to Goodison Park on Saturday.
On the back of last-minute heartbreak during the week against Manchester United, Ronald Koeman’s side know anything other than a win will end any hopes the Toffees have of reaching the top four.
On the other hand, Leicester City are flying under the management of Shakespeare and will look to make it seven wins out of seven, with a victory potentially taking them into the top half of the table.
After going on a nine-match unbeaten run, Everton’s progress in the Premier League has somewhat stalled lately after defeats to Tottenham and Liverpool, only winning two of their last five games.
They were highly unfortunate to leave Old Trafford without all three points during the week, however, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last-gasp penalty pegged back what had been a defensively solid display.
Since the sacking of Claudio Ranieri Leicester City have been more like their scintillating selves from last season, beating Liverpool on their way to a six-match unbeaten run that dates back to February.
This run, which includes wins over Sunderland and Hull City, has clawed the Foxes away from a relegation battle and taken them within touching distance of the top ten of the Premier League.
The hosts will be without three first-team defenders as Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes-Mori are out after their season-ending injuries, whilst Ashley Williams serves his suspension from Tuesday night.
Kevin Mirallas should be fit to start after picking up a slight knock against United, and despite refusing to shake Ronald Koeman’s hand after being substituted he’s expected to retain his spot.
For the visitors, the big dilemma for Craig Shakespeare is whether Demarai Gray or Marc Albrighton start in midfield; both impressed during spells in midweek, with the latter getting two vital assists.
Captain Wes Morgan may not be fit in time to take his place in the defence after missing the Sunderland win due to a back injury, and it’s unlikely the Leicester manager will take any risks with his star centre-back ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first-leg against Atletico Madrid.
Verdict: Everton 3-2 Leicester City
Both sides have been at the top of their respective games in recent weeks, but Ronald Koeman will be looking for a big response from his Everton side as they hope to bounce back from their derby day defeat at Liverpool and the disappointing draw against Manchester United on Tuesday night.
It won’t be easy against a Leicester side full of confidence, however, as the Foxes look like a completely different side to the one that played seven months of the season under Claudio Ranieri’s reign.
With Jamie Vardy in stunning form, Romelu Lukaku enjoying the season of his life and Everton without three regular defenders, goals should certainly be the order of the day at Goodison Park.
Leicester may have one eye on their mouth-watering Champions League clash in Spain though, and this could prove costly on Saturday and allow Everton to re-ignite their late push for the top four.