Another huge home game for Everton as Foxes visit Goodison

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Richarlison of Everton is tackled by Timothy Castagne of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park on January 27, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Richarlison of Everton is tackled by Timothy Castagne of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park on January 27, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images) /
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Everton have another massive Premier League fixture tomorrow night as Leicester City are the visitors to the Grand Old Lady.

Points are a precious premium for Everton now with eight matches left and as everyone knows the four of them at Goodison Park will be critical to the team’s survival. Along with Leicester, those are fixtures against London teams Chelsea, Brentford and Crystal Palace.

This game tomorrow is the first of two against the Foxes in just a few weeks due to all the postponements over the winter months.

Everton’s home form has been about the only glimmer of light in this truly awful season. Without the precious wins that have been achieved at Goodison Park, this team would be right in the relegation zone and almost certainly by now be dead in the water.

As it is, there is still a chance for the Blues’ to scrape enough points together to get out of this horrendous mess.

Last weekend’s win over Manchester United was just the sort of performance that given the team’s atrocious away record, has to be repeated again in those remaining home matches.

The Toffees’ were resolute, hard-working and despite not really creating much they found a way to gain and hold onto a desperately needed three points in that game.

All the key players performed well from Jordan Pickford pulling off some superb stops to keep a precious and all too rare clean sheet, a much-criticised defence holding firm, Fabian Delph and Allan controlling midfield and Anthony Gordon having the willingness to shoot from distance and get his reward via a deflection.

That combination of effort, skill, nous and a little luck will be needed once more in the coming games starting tomorrow night.

It will be tempting and I would certainly say it has considerable merits for Frank Lampard to stick with the same side that defeated United. With one possible exception; that of Yerry Mina returning to the heart of the defence.

The Colombian international has spent most of this campaign out injured and his defensive qualities and leadership at the back have been sorely missed.

His return to fitness is a massive boost for the team and manager and Lampard has said he will certainly play some part in the Leicester game.

That could mean he will start and if Everton do get ahead he might be taken off to rest up for the Merseyside derby next. Or alternatively, he might not start but come on to shore up the team’s defence if they are trying to hold onto a lead.

Anyway, however it pans out it means he will get some minutes under his belt and that will be a positive with so many big games coming up.

One thing is important though, and that is to ensure he doesn’t come back and then get injured again straight away as he did earlier in the season.

The other selection issue for the manager is whether Dutchman Donny van de Beek will return to the starting eleven after his recent absence.

If he does come straight back into the team then that will presumably mean one of Allan or Alex Iwobi will miss out, assuming a similar formation.

That would be harsh on either player both of whom excelled against United. But, I would say that Allan is the more important of the two as he supplements Delph’s defensive work so well.

Whatever selection decisions Lampard makes and however they are set up what’s most important is that the players show that focus, desire and determination again.

The Foxes are sitting in ninth place and still have a chance of qualifying for Europe again at the end of the campaign. They have been playing very well in this season’s Europa League too and could even get a Champions League place if they win it.

That shows the importance and potential rewards of European football, something the Blues’ have missed out on time and again over the past few seasons.

However, in the Premier League things haven’t gone as well for the visitors this term as in the last two seasons when they were in contention for the top four with a few games left to go.

The Foxes been very inconsistent this time round and have an away record that while not as bad as Everton’s – no one elses could be – hasn’t been much to write home about.

In fact, Leicester have only beaten Norwich, Brentford and Burnley away from home in the Premier League. And, two of those three are in the relegation zone.

So, that augers well at least on paper. Of course, we know this Toffees’ side has a unique talent for giving struggling opponents a great chance to overcome a bad spell or secure a much-needed result.

That cannot be the case though tomorrow night. A win in 24 hours would give Everton some hugely significant breathing room and a six point gap on Burnley.

It would also take the pressure off a little given that the next fixture is a derby at Anfield that I doubt any Evertonian can see their side getting anything from.

I still think a few points away from home will possibly be necessary, but consecutive victories something so rarely acheived this season, would be a real boost for morale and generate some positive momentum too.