From the images of past triumphs which adorn the walls at Finch Farm, Martinez is all too aware we are a sleeping giant and is hell bent on returning us to the top.

Everton v Stoke City Preview

Nothing like it really. That moment where your joy ejaculates at a last gasp winner, especially after you’d reached the point of brooding over yet another missed opportunity. Then BAM, up steps Cleverley with a header that took about four minutes to drop. But drop it did into the Newcastle net.Then Cleverley is off, tearing away down the touchline, like an excitable wee vampire bat high off the vein of last minute success.The finest battle ever fought on Scottish soil since Bannockburn may be going over the top but it’s always good to beat them Geordie biffs, and even better in a cruel manner that deflated them mid song, thinking they’d took a decent point.

Pipe right down.

Last point, is there any need for all the hoo-har they have going on with in game memoriam? They’re worse than the kopites for look-at-us mawkish embrace.

Enough of them scruffs though as it’s time to look forward to, well, even more scruffs as Stoke come to town for quick fire festive period game.

Stoke’s only consistency this season has been their inconsistency as highlighted by yet another good result on Boxing Day as they beat Chelsea, but then they’re just as likely to dip against someone crap the following week. Maybe even Everton.

They’re sat on 26 points which is the same as us so it will be no easy game but one that is essential to win for both points and needed momentum with the games ahead.

So that’s the size of it, what about Stoke, their fans and local culture?

Well I’m sorry to disappoint as I don’t mind them so they generally get a pass from me in these previews. Could you call Stoke a hub of high society and cutting edge urban technology? Of course you couldn’t, unless we were currently writing this in 1879 in which case it would be a few rungs higher up the ladder.

Are the inhabitants famed for their quick repartee and snappy fashion? Absolutely not, but here’s the rub – they’re not pretending to be either. And that’s what I like about Stoke – that Stoke is quite comfortable being Stoke. You certainly won’t find Stoke trying to sneer at “them scousers” or lording themselves over many others. That’s to be applauded in modern society where aspiration is out of touch with self perception.

It must be not too easy being Stoke as there’s no real stand out features, maybe apart from “being near Alton Towers”. There’s lush Staffordshire countryside for sure but it reeks of cow pat for most of the year and that smell seemingly ingrains itself in the clothes of Stoke residents when their washing is hanging on the line.

There’s no seaside to stare out into wistfully and dream, no beaches to rag a stolen Ford Mondeo on. No tasteful city centre with beautiful architecture and historical areas of importance or gravita.

You’re somewhere before Birmingham, you know, by Alton Towers. Fighting for attention against other sign posts on the M6 such as Keele, Hanchurch and Stafford as you’re heading down the M6 going somewhere always other than Stoke.

They did however make ceramics at one point rather well, so that counts for something, if you’re on a massive comedown and watching The Antique’s Roadshow perhaps.

So that’s why I’m not going to mock Stoke as they’re alright by me. Long may they poke the eye of the mighty who seek to look down their nose at them and I’m pleased they’re an established club in this Premier League thing.

Since bingo headed manager Mark Hughes came in they’ve been going through somewhat of a rebrand to move away from their previous strong arm and direct tactics, towards something a bit more pleasant on the eye. Signing Bojan last season was an indication of that and they’re gone a few steps further since then with the result being they have a genuinely well rounded game equipped to deal with many in England’s top league.

Diouf should start on his own up front and and is a big energetic and effective presence, he will keep Stones and Funes Mori occupied while a skillful three behind them try and do some damage. There’s probably going to be some rotation in their team (as like us they have a league cup semi fixture crush coming up) so it’s hard tp predict who will start but the likes of Shaqiri, Bojan and Afellay could be involved

Same for the midfield two who will be competitive, it could be two out of Whelan, Van Ginkel, Cameron or that old fat scruffy smack teethed yard dog Charlie Adam.

Wollscheid and Shawcross are a really good central two who won’t be phased by the physical element of Lukaku’s play nor our piss poor set pieces. There’ll be two athletic type full backs and Jack Butland in goal, who seems a really good young keeper. Just what we need.

This won’t be an easy one as Stoke as set up perfectly to sit deep and counter with pace while taking opportunities through power on set pieces. So basically an ideal kryptonite for Everton.

But beat them we must.

Lukaku’s goal scoring run came to an end but he didn’t look arsed as he tried to bum the back of his team mates head’s in the celebrations.

It’s who to play around Lukaku that is the throbbing question at the moment and it was nice to see Martinez try a few different options with both Lennon and Mirallas coming, and both doing pretty well. He may be inclined to keep them but with with a run of 7 games in 22 days we are likely to see chances to impress for a few. Let’s hope they take them.

There was some murmurs of discontent over Barkley being subbed and it did look a weird one but hopefully that fires him up for the games ahead. Good to see Besic back who was quietly efficient, I think that’s his thing.

Barry has been really good this season taking the piss out of those who wrote him off as finished or saying his legs were gone. We’re a bit too keen to write things off prematurely at Everton from time to time, and Barry’s importance to the team is going to be difficult to replace when his legs do eventually fall off. Well done Tom Cleverley for really good goal and another effective performance in the middle of the park. It’s nice to know we have a few options there even if James McCarthy will be pushed back in as soon as he’s fit again. Cleverley should continue to grow on Evertonians as he has a lot of values to this game that we particularly are in tune with amongst our midfielders.

Stone sand Funes Mori were important in helping to keep a clean sheet, as likewise was Tim Howard and Newcastle’s forwards pissing some decent chances. It matters not. We need to get better at keeping clean sheets if we are to convert more games into wins, as we’re adept at scoring goals for sure. Helping all these processes are Coleman and Baines at full back which is a blessing for Everton and long may it continue.

So that’s it really, not much more to be said other than I have little confidence in us being able to shift together a winning run with January looming but it would be unexpected and pleasant if we could chat again in one month’s time and be excited about Everton and the direction we’re heading in.

This is the final fixture of the 2015 year and it’s been a weird one and frustrating at times but in amongst all that there is a decent Everton team trying to break out.

Here’s to the breaking out.

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