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Paul Merson picks out Everton's two key players in lead up to Middlesbrough clash

By Harvey Byrne

Paul Merson has predicted that Everton duo Romelu Lukaku and Idrissa Gueye will be key factors for the Toffees in the clash against Middlesbrough on Saturday

The former Arsenal defender predicted a comfortable Everton 3-0 victory against the north east side at Goodison Park.

The Toffees ran out as winners with the same scoreline against Sunderland on Monday and they have started life under Ronald Koeman unbeaten with two wins and two draws from their opening four league matches.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace in their most recent clash, but they have also started well sitting in 9th place after winning promotion last season.

The Soccer Saturday pundit picked out the Toffees star duo as key factors for the weekend clash, while predicting Everton to keep their good run going.

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“Boro had a bit of a wake-up call last week, getting picked off quite a few times by Crystal Palace,” Merson wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“They probably should have won at West Brom the week before and then they lose to Palace with a really tough game to come. Things can change very quickly; we know how ruthless this league is.

“For all the ball Boro had at West Brom, they didn’t really hurt their opponents and the Romelu Lukaku factor is massive.

“Idrissa Gueye looks a player as well and I fancy Everton to keep things going against Middlesbrough.”

Everton met Middlesbrough in the League Cup in 2015 in their last encounter, with the Toffees running out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Lukaku.

The Belgium international started the season slowly, failing to score in his first three appearances of the season, following a goal drought for the club dating back to March.

However, he scored two goals for his country against Cyprus, which appeared to spark a hat-trick against Sunderland.

Meanwhile, Gueye has impressed fans and pundits alike following his move from relegated Aston Villa in the summer.

The combative midfielder has been a rock in front of the Toffees defence, helping to ensure three clean sheets from his first five appearances for the club.

The match will be broadcast on BT Sports, in their late 5.30pm kick off slot.

In other Everton team news, Koeman has revealed that Lukaku will need support from his team-mates.