Having had a mixed time of things since his arrival on Merseyside, Ronald Koeman looks to have finally found his feet at Everton with the Toffees sitting pretty in 7th place in the Premier League after an impressive unbeaten start to 2017.
It's a tenure that undoubtedly hit its highest point with the 4-0 demolition of Manchester City on January 15; a result that was followed up with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace in their last game. In fact, such is their form at the moment they have scored eight goals in their last three league games without conceding.
It all makes pretty grim reading for Stoke fans who despite their own unbeaten start to 2017 in the league are not quite making the same strides of progress under Mark Hughes this term. The league table might suggest otherwise but the fact remains that all of the Potters' victories this season have come against those sides scrambling around the lower reaches of the division.
On paper, the 1-1 draw against Manchester United in their last game looked a good result but it was one that left fans more deflated then encouraged; and not just because of Wayne Rooney's 94th minute equaliser. The once exciting force that ironically shone against the bigger clubs and not the smaller ones has all but transformed into a long ball outfit building their tactics around a soon-to-be 36-year-old striker.
Amid a season of tactical indecision Hughes seems to have curiously landed on Peter Crouch as the man to lead his line but there is perhaps some light at the end of the tunnel following the arrival of Saido Berahino. He is the striker the manager has been chasing for the last three transfer windows and couldn't be more different from Crouch if he tried.
Diminutive in stature, quick of foot and lethal in front of goal, he is a player those around him have been crying out for. For too long now, the talents of Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic have found themselves frustrated by the lack of intelligent movement ahead of them and in Berahino, they finally have a far better suited foil in the final third.
It is not expected that he will start the game on Wednesday but he is likely to play some part from the bench ahead of what is sure to be a starring role just days later against the club where he endured such a nightmarish couple of years; West Brom.
This season's reverse fixture against the Toffees -- a 1-0 defeat on Aug; 27th -- was a result that left the Potters bottom of the league and while they currently sit comfortably in the top half it's not a contest that will prove easy. With the opposition so rampant at the moment it is crucial that the midfield is capable defensively and that means Hughes must make a decision on the continued inclusion of Charlie Adam.
He is one of the old guard Hughes has turned to in his hour of need and one that positively complements the lofty Crouch in the final third but equally compromises his side out of possession. The options available are few and with Geoff Cameron still some way off from full fitness the only realistic option for a replacement is to shift Joe Allen back into a more disciplined role in front of the back four alongside Glenn Whelan.
That would appear to open up a spot in the No.10 role that Bojan Krkic would relish but with the Spaniard heading on loan to Mainz in Germany, it is likely that either Shaqiri will move in-field or the manager will opt for a 4-3-3 formation that doesn't require that role at all. Of course, there is the prospect of a much-needed addition in defensive midfield ahead of the game but should that happen it would be extremely unlikely that they would feature so soon.
The arrival of a new face is great for morale, though, and the buzz created by Berahino's signing is palpable and something that will only strengthen the side's resolve against a currently formidable opponent.
Whether or not he plays a more meaningful role on the night remains to be seen but the script is seemingly written for Crouch to claim the last goal needed for him to join the "100 club" before stepping aside for the new boy to lead Stoke back to more exciting, attacking ways.