League Cup Preview
Everton step back on the road to Wembley this evening with a trip to the northeast to face Middlesbrough in the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup that they hope will swiftly diminish the disappointment of their last Premier League outing.
It's a cup tie that was already pregnant with expectation and anticipation for Evertonians but one which has taken on extra significance in the wake of Saturday's gut-wrenching 3-3 draw against Bournemouth. For supporters sensing the glimmers of opportunity in a season where the top four feels wide open, the Blues' spurning of two vital points came as another reality check and, perhaps, returned the League Cup to the forefront of the team's hopes of answering Roberto Martinez's increasingly oft-repeated refrain that Everton "have to achieve" this season.
This competition may have been unkind to the Blues since its inception five-and-a-half decades ago but, sitting as they are just three games away from a first Wembley final in seven years, it represents the next and, for now, the most likely means of the club ending the longest trophy drought in its history.
Martinez has already suggested that his players will respond in the right way following their late lapse at the Vitality Stadium but all Blue eyes will be on which personnel the manager selects for what is arguably the most important match that Everton have faced since the Europa League round of 16 second leg in Kiev last March.
The Catalan has already shown a propensity to make a raft of changes in the earlier rounds of the Capital One Cup this season – on each occasion they needed to come from behind to rescue the tie and they survived the lottery of a penalty shootout in the last round to overcome Norwich – and more shuffling of the deck is expected against Boro. although the hope is that they won't be too extensive or disruptive.
Martinez has already confirmed that Joel Robles will start the game, just as he did in the previous three rounds, but at least one further alteration to the team that started against Bournemouth could be forced on the manager after James McCarthy came off with a hip on Saturday. Termed by his boss as "an over-extension", it's unlikely to keep him out for long but it makes him doubtful for this tie – in any case, it would surely be prudent to keep him out as a precaution even if it likely means no rest for Gareth Barry.
Tom Cleverley was McCarthy's replacement at Dean Court at the weekend and could deputise in the defensive midfield role, but Muhamed Besic will also be champing at the bit after his protracted lay-off with a hamstring problem and Darron Gibson is another candidate to fill the void. All three could end up playing, however, if Barry hasn't recovered from a shin injury that he sustained on Saturday and the manager decides to deploy Cleverley on the left where Kone operated last time out.
Further forward, Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon will be similarly eager for playing time and both could start if Martinez elects to rest Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu after their exertions on Saturday – both players looked tired in the final quarter of an hour against the Cherries.
Finally, much attention will be focused on the left back slot when the teams are announced before kick-off to see if Leighton Baines's name is in the line-up. The 30-year-old hasn't been risked in either of the last two games despite being declared "medically fit" by Martinez a fortnight ago. The manager has wisely been playing it safe with the England international and it wouldn't be surprising to see him sit this one out as well, perhaps with next Monday's important game against Crystal Palace in mind.
Given how well Everton have been performing away from home this season – they have lost just once away from Goodison Park so far – and that they beat Reading from the same division as Middlesbrough in the League Cup earlier in the campaign, the team should travel in good spirits and with the knowledge that if they perform to their ability and defend better than was the case against Bournemouth then they should be able to see this one out.
Of course, it is a cup tie and Boro, whose manager Aitor Karanka has a full squad from which to choose, will be just as up for it. Everton, though, will be backed by a passionate and vocal travelling army that will, no doubt, be seeking to revisit the atmosphere of another trip to this part of the world in 2012 when the Blues produced an irresistable display to beat Sunderland and book their place in the FA Cup semis of that year.
A repeat of that performance at the Stadium of Light and a chance at redemption for what followed at Wembley against Liverpool would do nicely.
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Report
Reader Comments (78)
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1 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:12:22
Tonight is another opportunity that has come at the exactly the right time, if we have reacted in the proper way since Saturday evening. A decent performance and a win tonight will get us back on track. Results went our way on Sunday... so do well tonight and we have not lost that much overall from Saturday. If we have learned nothing, and have failed to react since Saturday, then tonight is going to be horrible. What can be a standard insipid performance from Everton could see almost all of the well-earned recent confidence drain away.
With it being an away game, having injury doubts over Barry and McCarthy, and very tired players in Deulofeu and Kone, I have huge concerns over how tonight will go. I would hope that Martinez is brave and that Mirallas and Lennon replace Deulofeu and Kone. Besic and Cleverley or Gibson in the middle will to some degree also provide adequate replacements for Barry and McCarthy if needed. Maintain the winning shape of the team and look to go forward at every opportunity as we have been doing. Whether Martinez is brave enough or not waits to be seen.
2 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:14:01
Lyndon, too busy, to read this thread, only had time for the last sentence, which is good enough for me... Please!
3 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:26:12
4 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:32:16
Middlesbrough don't concede many at home; I think it's two in 9 home games.
It could go to extra time this one.
5 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:45:42
I am hoping Besic will start in place of McCarthy.
If Galloway starts, which seems likely, he is going to need some help keeping Downing under control.
One way or another, I think we are going to see quite a few changes to the Bournemouth starting line up.
6 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:49:41
7 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:57:46
More important, will Martinez respond in the right way?
8 Posted 01/12/2015 at 07:59:50
Not sure this is the best place to bring Baines back after such a long absence. Even though Galloway wasn't great on Saturday I would keep him in.
9 Posted 01/12/2015 at 09:01:21
With injuries and everything my team would be:
Play 4-5-1 to swamp them in MF and use our pace down the flanks to rip them a new one.
10 Posted 01/12/2015 at 09:26:03
We have to trust trust Gibson and Besic to do a job at some stage.
11 Posted 01/12/2015 at 09:29:32
Let's hope I'm reading positive upbeat posts in the morning.
Tight game; if we don't bottle it, we should get a result.
12 Posted 01/12/2015 at 09:36:14
Give me a day at Wembley winning a trophy over 4th place every time.
13 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:00:13
But, as Blue Bill & the board always remind us, we can't really compete against these Sky super rich clubs.
14 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:11:06
15 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:17:57
For some reason, we have never taken this competition seriously. This season, the supporters are more than keen to go as far as we can but I don't know if the management feel the same. If they were serious, then other than injuries Martinez should play the team he considers our strongest.
I think Howard is becoming a liability; however, Martinez thinks the sun shines out of his backside, so why play Robles? If he thinks Lukaku and Kone are the best pairing, why play Naismith, similarly possibly changing Deulofeu?
Fair enough if things aren't working but I think we should always play our best team. If professional footballers can't play the odd two games a week then there's something far wrong.
16 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:20:14
Howard won't be playing but I'm sure that won't absolve him of responsibility should we lose!
17 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:32:13
Tonight, we will have to scrap all over the park, from front to back, because this will not be an easy game. We need our best eleven on the pitch from the off, or we will be chasing the game once more.
I hope Martinez doesn't make the same mistakes of earlier rounds, picking squad players, and being forced to bring on his stars when the game is drifting away.
18 Posted 01/12/2015 at 10:41:21
Prediction: 0-2, Mirallas and Lukaku.
19 Posted 01/12/2015 at 11:24:08
Coupled with that is the fact that McCarthy is likely to be missing and he is a very effective player for the Blues, so that could have an effect.
Despite these hiccups Everton should be able to put out a side with enough know-how to get a result one way or another. If tiredness and RM's errors contributed to Saturday's result, then hopefully a lesson has been learnt.
With Baines, Gibson, Besic and Cleverley all chomping at the bit to re-establish themselves, one would think there will be enough intensity to match whatever Boro bring to the table.
20 Posted 01/12/2015 at 11:37:54
Starting with Barry maybe a good idea as we need someone with that experience to calm things down as Boro will attack from the word go. I guess Osman could do that as well.
Naismith is just what the doctor ordered for such occasions: powerful and illustrious in tackling. It will be a show of pure strength over skills.
Keep the back 4 unchanged, they need some more game-time together and they're young enough to take this workload. This is not the stage for Baines to come in. Boro will come hard at him.
My XI would be:
Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway;
Mirallas, Naismith, Cleverley;
21 Posted 01/12/2015 at 12:12:19
22 Posted 01/12/2015 at 12:18:06
We need to show we are a top Premier League side and dominate this game all over the pitch. Attitude and concentration are key.
23 Posted 01/12/2015 at 12:35:51
Don't know much about 'Boro. Nugent can score goals, the big Greek keeper is hard to beat, Gibson used to partner Stones with the England U21s, Downing has a lethal left foot and midfielder Adam Forshaw is one of our better ex academy lads. The rest are a mystery but they are in the last eight and must be respected.
As for us? Well, with Barry out and Kone hopefully rested, the hole in front of the left fullback should have a smaller circumference but we will be weaker in the air. Much weaker.
Anyway, I'm banking on Martinez getting this one right. Bringing on Gibson with six seconds remaining was one of the most bewildering decisions of all time but surely he'll sort out a way to beat 'Boro.
24 Posted 01/12/2015 at 12:36:12
If he gets this wrong and we go out, I'll blow a gasket again, these are lower opposition and we are better in all departments.
Play your best team and get through to the semi-final; nothing else will be acceptable, Roberto.
ps: Best team does not include Howard.
25 Posted 01/12/2015 at 12:58:44
26 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:00:27
You took the words right out of my mouth. I feel the same way and couldn't agree more.
27 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:12:06
Lads, get with the agenda.
I've now seen the light - the same one that shines inside Roberto's mind. It's all about performance. The results are secondary.
Everything is incredible in this world.
Join us. It's phenomenal, an amazing moment.
(Three away wins tonight ... a scabby one will do for us but my nerves won't be able to stand penalties. Most of all, I'm looking forward to the post-match words of wisdom from our leader.)
28 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:15:13
Come on the Toffees.
29 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:29:06
Far too often, hopes have been raised by good displays then dashed by the exact opposite, making it impossible to predict how we will react in any given situation, or how certain players will perform. I can see the tie going to Extra Time.
I have never been a Martinez fan and think his tactics have at times been bizarre; his treatment of Mirallas has been a disgrace... and, like many Evertonians, I don't think he is up to getting us back where we should be.
30 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:38:58
Just hope that dropping a two-goal lead on Saturday doesn't affect us like it did against Arsenal last season.
31 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:51:24
It's eleven against eleven regardless of home or away. Personally I think we will do the job comfortably after the expected early bluster from the home side.
33 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:58:43
34 Posted 01/12/2015 at 13:59:33
35 Posted 01/12/2015 at 14:09:14
I'm neither confident nor over-optimistic but I hope the players realise that this game means a great deal to the supporters and they put in a decent shift tonight.
36 Posted 01/12/2015 at 14:21:37
Fucking hate watching via the dodgy internet stream!
We will be very focused after Bournmouth.
4-1 the Blues.
37 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:14:33
Adding to that mess, Gibson's money bought him out of a few months ago to his injury record, I've got to believe Gibson's gone. Roberto's use of him as a mannequin on Saturday pretty much clinched it for me.
I can't see letting him go for free in the Summer. If he's healthy in the January window, Roberto can make a few bucks selling him. He IS talented. Someone will want him. Naismith too?
38 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:17:15
An in-form 'Boro team that will be probably back in the Premier League next season and when you consider it will be a cold blustery night up there in Teeside, I can't see our team up for the challenge! On occasions such as tonight, a team needs to dig in and get a result; a leader on the pitch and a "dogs of war" mentality... I am afraid this Everton does not have it!
39 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:20:29
I was disappointed we didn't make a positive, attacking change on Saturday. Mirallas should have come on. Barkley is well known for his lack of defensive work.
This will be a hard-fought game. I predict we'll take our time and try to control the first 15 mins with counter-attacks throughout. The problem is, Boro will be savy to it and mark Deulofeu and Barry out.
We're good enough to win handsomely. Hoping Mirallas bags a couple
40 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:31:31
41 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:35:49
Boro are a great side and I've watched them on several occasions, but unless our gaffer let's us down with too many changes and/or poor substitutions, I can't really understand your negativity, because they are beatable . Each their own I guess. COYB !!!
42 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:38:28
Any slight injuries will be exaggerated on a cold winters night away at Boro. Better to rest him now than a Stones scenario that would see him out for weeks.
Del and Mcca should be rested. Everyone else needs to play and prove a point that they are as upset as us fans about Saturday's result.
43 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:40:02
This is THE Trophy we have to win some day soon, but with our Gaffer - no chance!
44 Posted 01/12/2015 at 15:40:44
Unfortunately a "Big Club", Manchester City, is playing at the same time as our Boys. So, you know how that goes.
45 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:16:53
If you shop around your PC I think you will find a stream on the large number of sports outlets worldwide we've had the game several times here in Ontario via these channels,
On a 'bad weather' note, Colin, one of the worst displays by us was against Leeds in this competition on a cold wet and windy night when they kicked us out, we just weren't up for it, and it showed.
46 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:17:11
Has everyone looked at the "ToffeeWeb as the voice of the fans in Soccer Manager 2016" thread?
A real feather in the ToffeeWeb cap.
47 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:21:54
I'd also throw Baines in from the start to give a moral boost and something going forward on the over-lap. The mid-field is a tricky one.but I'd give Gibson and Besic the nod. Like Naismith, I think Besic is a player that's never going to be top level. But, on a night like tonight we need to bring it down to their level. Less flicky-tricky and more graft and aggression. Lennon gets in as well.
I would hope that Gibson can drive us forward with good diagonals to Lennon - Coleman & Mirallas - Baines
48 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:28:28
49 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:29:47
Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines,
Besic, Gibson, Cleverley
Lennon, Lukaku, Mirallas
I fear Lukaku and Barkley will pick up injuries soon if they are not rested but we're desperately short up front so Lukaku has to play.
50 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:42:50
Without doubt we have a talented team but, as was said many times on this site after Saturday's game, we do lack a strong forceful character who can drag the team over the line when things get tough .
51 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:45:09
As Evertonians we know that we have a very fragile defence, a dodgy keeper, no fight and no leadership on the pitch.So as an Evertonian I admit that I am worried because you never know what you are going to get but I bet the Boro fans are just as worried.
52 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:46:09
Personally I'd like to see an old fashioned 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 but given it's been a while since we've played this way, would they be able to?
Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines;
Deulofeu, Gibson, Cleverley Mirallas;
Have Besic, Osman, Lennon on the bench as MF back up depending on how the game is going, Kone as back up for Rom.
Doubt this will be the line up though as I can see Lennon starting, no idea who RM will play at CM but think he'll stick to a 4-2-3-1 formation with two of Besic, Cleverley, Gibson, Osman in the middle.
Whatever the line up, we simply cannot lose this!
53 Posted 01/12/2015 at 16:55:51
55 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:12:49
56 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:13:01
I expect to see Lennon from the start and Nais or Mirallas will have to hope to get the nod on the left. Martinez has plenty of options in midfield if the knocks are too serious on Mac and Barry. I wonder if we will see a will to win it from the start, or a bid to stay in it until it is time to let loose our weapons?
You can never tell with Roberto.
57 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:14:45
Are we on? What free channel?
Ta, lads and lasses!
58 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:16:36
Mirallas will hopefully start and a real point to prove. He must be itching to show what he can do as Del boy has stolen a real march on him.
I'd be surprised not to see Naismith also in the starting 11, but hopefully not too many changes.
If both McCarthy and Barry are out; I'd like to see Barkley play from deep along with a defensive minded player because its important to be able to move the ball forward quickly from the back.
59 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:18:31
Trevor (#47), if that's true I say hurray for Roberto. I know Besic is a favorite of many here, but he's not one of mine. A midfielder who can't shoot or even get into the box is not what we need in this game.
60 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:19:20
Yes, there are many fans and clubs who believe this is still a Mickey Mouse cup based on the attendances and team selections in the early rounds and so being eliminated may not be such a bad thing if league aspirations are high and both are in this tie.
Boro will be a tough nut as they proved at Manure so the intensity level from the Blues will have to be 100% right from the off.
From Everton's point of view they will need this game to shake off the disappointment of last Saturday and be upbeat for the next Premier League game.
62 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:23:27
We seem to operate on a type of bipolar scale: Barcelona moments on the one hand, followed by a tactical naivety and underperformance which would frankly shame the Fleetwood ale-house over-80s reserves.
Nevertheless I think we will win. Catch up with the usual suspects on the live feed.
63 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:42:57
The manager for all his shortcomings has managed to pull off the 'big one' with little Wigan so its puny sibling trophy should be within his capability. Shouldn't it?
64 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:43:59
If I see it, we will win.
65 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:44:47
66 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:45:26
Nah I've got 6 lagers sitting in the fridge with my name on, just to dull the senses.
67 Posted 01/12/2015 at 17:54:09
68 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:08:55
69 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:17:36
70 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:20:38
I hope Mirallas plays a team game today. He looks like he has a goal in him but that seems to be the only thing he tries to do. He's going to have to link-up with Lukaku as well as try to score. His penalty kick debacle last year left me gutted and I have a problem trusting him since. We may need his selfishness during this game but not all the time.
Baines will probably only play a half or as his last action was 45 minutes with the U-21. He'll probably split with Galloway.
This could be tough with possibly 4 "new" midfielders playing at one time.
71 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:26:12
We're better than this crew and the blue army will give us tremendous backing of course
Keep the faith, guys.
72 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:32:34
Aside from Barry and McCarthy out and Delo and Kone looking spent just three days ago. Baines, Cleverley and Besic are all coming off injury and may be healthy but I don't think they are match fit yet. Besic only played 45 minutes at the Euro qualifier and Baines only 45 in the last U-21 game. Cleverley has not played a match in months.
Not only will Roberto have to sub due to the flow of the game. He may have to sub for the likes of our returning players. For example, I would be surprised if Ross is up for 90. Maybe the same for Besic and possibly Cleverly. Plus Delo always looks like he needs to come out at the end.
We need to scruff this game early.
73 Posted 01/12/2015 at 18:59:11
Osman gets a game so that means either Barkley or Cleverley are out wide. Both are central players and hopeless wingers.
74 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:05:36
75 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:09:13
77 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:15:11
78 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:18:26
Evidently Barry's shin whack is better, but no way he makes 90 IMO. Sorry to see Bainesy isn't ready to go yet... but happy for Ossie. He'll keep things steady.
79 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:20:46
80 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:22:25
"Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has warned over-confidence could be the greatest threat to his side's chances of securing another top-flight scalp in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night."
Over-confidence? Give me a break.
81 Posted 01/12/2015 at 19:35:44
82 Posted 01/12/2015 at 22:43:44
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