The Toffees have not played since holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw on December 16, and ironically, the Seagulls played out the same result with Thomas Tuchel's side last time out.
To say that 2021 was a mixed bag for Everton would be a true understatement, but the Toffees ultimately ended the year on a relative high note with a point at Stamford Bridge.
With clashes against Burnley and Newcastle United both being called off as outfits up and down the country work around depleted squads, Everton head into 2022 with much work to be done to save Rafael Benitez's bacon.
Now 15th in the table with 19 points to their name from a possible 51, Benitez's bright start to life at Goodison Park has not had the desired effect over the winter, as Everton sit just eight points above Burnley having played a game more.
The Toffees managed to win just one of their last five home Premier League games in 2021, and history is not on their side either, as they have suffered defeat in each of their last four opening top-flight matches of the calendar year.
A tally of 10 goals conceded in their most recent four encounters at Goodison Park does not bode well for the hosts either, and the pressure is weighing heavily on Benitez's shoulders to turn his side's fortunes around in the New Year.
Arsenal fans of 2016 are already well aware of Danny Welbeck's affinity for last-minute goals, and Chelsea proved to be the Englishman's next victims as Brighton claimed a point at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Romelu Lukaku's darting run to the near post and subsequent header put the Blues 1-0 to the good before the break, but 10 minutes after being introduced, Danny Welbeck met Marc Cucurella's cross to restore parity for the Seagulls.
The wins column is still looking particularly bare for Brighton, but four points from a possible six was an ideal way to end a topsy-turvy 2021, and they sit 10th in the table heading into the New Year as a result.
A stalemate at Stamford Bridge represented a third consecutive 1-1 draw on the road for Graham Potter's men – whose most recent win on the road came back in September – and coincidentally, all four of their opening Premier League clashes in a calendar year have ended with the spoils shared.
Demarai Gray and Dominic Calvert-Lewin propelled Everton to a 2-0 win over Brighton at the Amex back in August, and all four of the Seagulls' Premier League trips to Goodison Park have seen them come away empty-handed.
The identities of Everton's COVID-affected contingent were not released, although Benitez will expect to welcome them back for the New Year given their ample time for rest and recovery.
As for Brighton, Potter has no fresh concerns to contend with from Wednesday's game, but he is still sweating over the fitness of Leandro Trossard and his tight hamstring.
Jeremy Sarmiento, Lewis Dunk and the COVID-positive Jurgen Locadia are also set to remain sidelined for their first fixture of 2022, and Welbeck's last-minute heroics may not be enough to see him displace Neal Maupay in the final third.
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Branthwaite, Keane, Godfrey; Allan, Doucoure, Gomes; Gray, Calvert-Lewin, Gordon
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Lamptey, Veltman, Burn, Cucurella; Bissouma, Mwepu; Mac Allister, Lallana, March; Maupay
We say: Everton 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Goodison Park has not been kind to Brighton in recent memory, although Everton's two week-long break may work against them if rustiness comes into play.
The expected return of Calvert-Lewin will aid Everton's prospects of breaking down a stubborn Seagulls backline, though, and we have confidence in the Toffees' ability to nick the odd goal and start 2022 as they mean to go on.
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