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Saturday 30 August K.O. 17:30

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Boss: Baggies Well Balanced

Martinez says Saturday's visitors can thrive without Lukaku.

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Roberto Martinez doesn't expect the loss of Romelu Lukaku to derail West Brom this season.

The Belgian powerhouse smashed 17 goals in 35 Premier League appearances for Saturday's opponents while on loan last term but has now returned to parent club Chelsea.

A 1-0 opening day defeat to Southampton has left the Baggies searching for their first points of the campaign, while doubts remain over the future of Lukaku's replacement, Nicolas Anelka, following the death of his agent this week.

However, Martinez still believes the Midlanders boast enough strength in depth to match last year's surprise eighth-place finish.

"I think West Brom have been very impressive. Last season, as a first season with Steve Clarke in charge, it was a campaign in which they showed a really good flexibility tactically - that they can play in many different formations," said Martinez on Thursday morning.

"Lukaku was a major influence for them. But I think what Steve did really well last season was to play to their strengths and he used that really well - in the same manner he's going to use what he has now.

"If you look at it, the balance of the side hasn't changed at all. The back four is exactly the same, the two midfielders - [Claudio] Yacob and [Youssouf] Mulumbu - have a great understanding.

"That gives them terrific balance, and from then on he's got many options and he's used them in many ways."

An even game against the Saints was decided only by a last-minute penalty from hero of the hour Rickie Lambert.

And having reviewed the action ahead of what will be his first competitive game at Goodison Park, Martinez is taking nothing for granted.
 
"I've watched their game from last weekend and I'd have to say West Brom were unfortunate not get anything out of it," he explained. "The game could have gone either way and you expect the team to grow as soon as the new players bed into the league and their group as a whole.

"That result could make them even more dangerous if anything.

"As a team they always bring that hard work, that organisation off the ball. But going forward they have many, many threats all over the park, and we'll need to be well aware.

"It's a well-balanced side and they will always be competitive on the day."

Tickets for Saturday's game – the first competitive home clash of Martinez's reign - are still available. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.

Alternatively, visit the Park End Box office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.

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