Michael Carrick suspects there are not many tougher midfield tests than going head to head with Everton's combative middlemen.
Everton have gathered 40 points so far this season, having already overtaken last season's total with just under half the campaign remaining. Much of the credit for this must be awarded to a central midfield threesome who are not short on tireless running, defensive protection, attacking support and creativity.
Thomas Gravesen, Lee Carsley and Tim Cahill are the hub of the Goodison engine room and are sure to provide a stubborn resistance to the attacking intentions of the majestic Michael and his sidekick Michael Brown. The trio are reinforced by two out of the likes of Kevin Kilbane, Leon Osman, Joseph Yobo, Steve Watson or James McFadden to make a midfield five and Michael knows there are unlikely to be many more challenging afternoons in the office.
"Probably not, they are doing well, although I know they had a bad result the other day," he reasoned, reflecting on Everton's reverse at Charlton on Tuesday - only their second defeat in the Premiership since playing us back in early October. "They play five across the middle which is hard to attack against and they have been winning quite a lot of games by one goal.
"It is going to be a tight game and hopefully we will come out on top. It is another game and, if we play well, we should win. We've got the potential here and, whoever we play against, we've got to go out and play our own game.
"I think Everton have surprised everyone, perhaps even their own manager - I don't think he was expecting to be up where they are. Fair play to them, they've earned the right to be there. The hard part is staying there, I suppose."
So does competing against a midfield five stifle the offensive thrust of a team operating with four central players?
"It depends, we played Norwich who play five and I thought we passed the ball well and I really enjoyed the game. Crystal Palace made it difficult for us - sometimes formations work and sometimes they don't. It is on the day and it is up to the lads to make sure it works.
"The gaffer says things but, if the lads don't do it, it doesn't happen."
Meanwhile, Michael admitted that the dropping of two points against Palace has been a nagging frustration this week but insists the boys will not let the disappointment affect them after a fine run of form.
"It is, it was a game we wanted to win. We got a draw so it is not too bad and we mustn't get too down about it. We've done alright in the last month and there is a good belief and confidence in the team. Individually you can take a lot out of that as well and when we go out there now we believe we're going to win.
"It is a much better feeling to have."