Capital One Cup SF 2nd Leg Preview
James McCarthy could return in place of the injured Muhamed Besic
Everton are back in Eastlands this evening for the second time in the space of a fortnight and the third meeting with Manchester City this month, one that carries the promise of a place at Wembley in next month's Capital One Cup final if they can get the right result.
Not just a chance to temporarily set aside his woes in the Premier League, this meeting with Manuel Pellegrini's men is almost certainly the biggest game of Roberto Martinez's tenure. More than halfway through his third season in charge, the wheels have come off Everton's tilt at finally finishing in the top four again and serious doubts about the Catalan's abiilty to take the club forward are now being raised.
It's a campaign that was rich with promise when the side he has assembled started to show signs of gelling into one of the most exciting and potent teams in England earlier this season. But a catalogue of draws, missed opportunities, late lapses, and dismal defeats like that which brought the campaign to its nadir on Sunday against Swansea have effectively ended the Champions League dream.
And yet, sitting as the Blues are just two wins from ending a 21-year trophy drought, Martinez has a shot at partial redemption with the League Cup; a potential catalyst to a campaign that, in one of the most open and unpredictable Premier League seasons thus far, can still be rescued to a degree if the team can find what appears to be an impossibly delicate balance between free-flowing attack and defensive solidity.
Everton demonstated the latter in spades at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago when they dug in and held on for a creditable goalless draw against the most prolific attack in the top flight. Tim Howard had arguably his best game of the season, the returning Phil Jagielka was magnificent alongside Ramiro Funes Mori and while the single point they earned wasn't much use in terms of the League campaign, it served as a morale-booster in the context of this second leg of the semi-final which they come into leading 2-1.
Unfortunately, Sunday's debacle represented arguably the worst preparation possible for tonight's contest. Not only did the Blues lose to relegation-threatened Swansea with a disappointing display that underscored their defensive disorganisation and over-reliance on Romelu Lukaku, but they lost Muhamed Besic one of the outstanding figures from the first leg three weeks ago and Kevin Mirallas finally showing hints of his best form in the oh-so-nearly game at Chelsea on the 16th to injury inside half an hour.
Both players have been ruled out of this evening's match but the potential return to action of James McCarthy could soften the blow of the Bosnian's absence. The Irishman doesn't quite have the fiery, Talismanic intensity of Besic but he is more than capable of playing the disruptor role in defensive midfield that will be so important against the likes of David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero. He hasn't completed a game since November, however, so Martinez would be wise to exercise caution over throwing him into such an intense fixture without McCarthy being 100% ready.
Assuming he does start, he would likely come into a midfield three rounded out by Gareth Barry and Tom Cleverley, sitting in front of a back four of Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Leighton Baines with Joel Robles behind them. Given the scrutiny under which Stones has been in recent weeks not least because of the late tackle on Sterling that should have earned City a last-minute penalty in the League match there have been calls to drop him back to the bench and it would certainly be harsh to demote Funes Mori after his recent form. While he famously kept Stones out of the side for a similar second leg tie against Dynamo Kiev last March with catastrophic consequences, Martinez will probably keep faith with him this time.
On the flanks, it would normnally be a straight choice between Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu at wide right but Steven Pienaar's return to fitness has added the option of deplying him on the other flank, although it would be at the noticeable expense of pace on the counter-attack and it's hard to see the manager electing to go into this one without such an important offensive option at his disposal. Knowing that an early goal for his side would heap pressure on City with the requirement to score twice to force extra time, Martinez will surely centre his first-half strategy around hitting the hosts on the break.
Everton under Martinez have used the escapism of a cup campaign to their advantage before, most memorably in the Europa League last year where they went to the likes of Wolfsburg and came away with a handsome victory against most of the odds. They are capable of repeating that feat this evening if they can remain disciplined and take the few chances that are likely to fall their way.
If they can do it, they would slay a few demons the club has gone into three prior second legs leading 2-1 and lost all of them along the way and also set up the opportunity to kill off some of the biggest in an all-Merseyside final against Liverpool where they can gain revenge for 2012 and finally rid themselves of the pschological hold that the reds have had over Everton for far too long.
First things first, though get the job done against City.
Kick off: 7.45pm
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Predicted line-up: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (114)
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1 Posted 27/01/2016 at 08:13:01
Its high time to start living up to the hype and achieve something.
Its no use bemoaning our injuries, Stoke won at Anfield last night and kept a clean sheet without Ryan Shawcross in defence.
Under Moyes we always pulled together and arguably got our best results with limited options available, what one or two are missing its hardly a injury crisis.
The talking now ends Roberto, let's see if these players possess the bottle, the steel, the character and the bravery to do it.
The jury has been out with most Evertonians this last 2 year's, now you can prove us wrong!
3 Posted 27/01/2016 at 08:47:31
For that reason I hope we do set up with a solid midfield. Maybe bring Lennon in for Deulofeu on the right and save Del for later. Bringing McCarthy back would be a gamble after such a long time out so stick with Barry and Cleverley with Barkley in midfield. Rom will have to work very hard up front on his own.
At the back I am guessing it will be Stones and Jags although I would replace Stones with Funes Mori as he think he is in better form. We all need a lift and getting through would provide it. IF we do then after watching the other semi last night we would have nothing to fear.
4 Posted 27/01/2016 at 08:49:41
5 Posted 27/01/2016 at 08:50:41
Huge game and, even if we win, it won't compensate for the disappointment of the Premier League campaign.
6 Posted 27/01/2016 at 08:51:55
I just hope we can grind out a snide nil-nil to be honest. I don't fancy us to win and keep a clean sheet, and if they get one goal then I think we will capitulate (as per) . So yeah, nil-nil for me.
7 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:04:48
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Lennon, Barry, Cleverley, Pienaar
Howard, Stones, Deulofeu, Oviedo, McCarthy, Kone on the bench
Duncan Ferguson to fire them up pre-match, and "remind" them at Half-time.
COYB, you CAN do this!
8 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:19:03
Why do we put ourselves through this eh? The worry, stress, frustration, anger and for very little joy.
Give us something to shout about Blues for a change.
9 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:23:12
We have travelled to Sporting Lisbon and Dynamo Kiev, capable sides but hardly European heavyweights, with a 2-1 first leg advantage but in both return legs away from home we've been convincingly smashed up!
Another example of whether a lot of these guys have learned anything from past experiences.
11 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:28:52
12 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:43:32
As far as selection goes I would go with Funes Mori over Stones in that not only could Stones do with being taken out of the firing line for a while but Funes Mori carries much more of a goal threat when we will probably need to score at least one goal to go through.
Anyway I hope we win and worry about the RS later.
13 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:43:47
14 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:46:34
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Lennon, McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar
With Deulofeu to come on early 2nd half
Come on Everton, the incentive is already there, a meeting with the stuffy RS.
15 Posted 27/01/2016 at 09:58:36
Don't get me wrong, I fully understand and appreciate why many of us feel like that as I too have sat at Wembley and various other venues holding my head in my hands as we have been done over like a kipper no matter how well we have played or as has usually been the case, not that well to be honest.
But, and admittedly it's a big but, there has to be a day when we have our day in the sun and the other lot are left with that horrible sickly feeling that too many Evertonians have felt far too often.
Of course we have an enormous hurdle to overcome tonight both physically and psychologically before we have to concern ourselves with the other lot, but if it comes to pass, there is no earthly reason that for once in our lifetimes we can smell the sweet taste of success against our not so loveable neighbours.
Mind you, there may be a few unearthly reasons why we won't but we can't fight the forces of evil, if we don't show courage and largely concede a game even before the fixture has been rubber-stamped. Blues to win tonight and hopefully triumph at the end of February, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
17 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:14:37
I agree the only chance we have of getting through is to score one on the counter.
We need to be tight at the back and not give them pockets to play into. Keep them wide because they don't have tall attacking players to knock headers in so we should be able to manage crosses.
I predict a nail biting 1-1 draw.
18 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:22:31
19 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:22:59
As far as I'm concerned the cracks at them the better.
The Anfield derby was meant to take place on the date of the Cup Final so it will feel gutting not being in it but know they are.
20 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:33:15
Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Deulofeu, Cleverley Oviedo
Bench: Howard, Galloway, McCarthy, Lennon, Barkley, Pienaar, Kone.
Stones in midfield as a tackling replacement for Besic Γ’β¬β I don't want McCarthy coming off injured and disrupting the flow and Stones then has a line behind him.
Drop Ross just because I think we need more responsibility on the ball tonight which Cleverley gives us. Pace with Oviedo and creativity with Deulofeu. Ross on the bench gives us a great sub which having lost Kev I don't think we have.
21 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:36:33
22 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:37:11
23 Posted 27/01/2016 at 10:41:18
Like everyone else, our form over the season is a concern to me as are the usual suspects that plenty has been said about already. I would hope that a few members of the squad have had a good look at themselves these last 48 hours.
What id like to say is that regardless how the season has gone this game and maybe the final will live much longer in the memories of all of us. This season could be the year we can finally win the League Cup. It could be a year we quote at our rivals forever more.
With that in mind we have to treat this as a one off. Forget Swansea, Howard, Stones and RM and get behind our club. Forget all the negativity and get behind the lads who we can all agree have it in them to go there and get a result.
Today is not the day to be negative COYB
24 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:05:56
It's going to be a long tense evening and hopefully we can see it through!
25 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:18:06
As Patrick says, we are due a win against them, the RS. I have seen us lose three semi-finals and three finals against them. The law of averages says we are due a win.
Look at Swansea, never beaten us in the league up until last Sunday. Stoke hadn't won at Anfield for over 50 years, until last night. I count that as a win for Stoke by the way. They won the actual match, after all.
So everybody chins up, this is definitely our year to land a trophy.
26 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:19:28
Please please please give us a performance and victory to be proud of and provide us with some optimism moving forward COYB !!!
27 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:31:40
With both Wigan and Everton, Martinez has established something of a reputation as a cup tactician and it says much for the man that he seems able to motivate his players for these games in the midst of a string of poor results in league competition.
Perhaps the paradox is explained by the fact that these are games in which he must accept that the RESULT means everything. So his players are excused if they dare to adopt a more pragmatic approach.
I suspect there may be one or two surprises in team selection as our man pulls out all the stops to prevent this season going completely down the drain. I hope they work.
28 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:34:08
29 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:38:35
30 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:44:27
Pienaar no longer has any pace, but then, he has never relied on it. He can, however, scrap for possession, and play an incisive forward pass, and in this type of game.
I would like to see him out left and Lennon starting on the right. This then leaves options on the bench of Kone, Deulofeu, Ovideo and Osman. Whilst Man City have star players, as a team, they can be frustrated, especially if Kun Aguero can be nullified.
Put Jimmy Mac (if fit) on Silva, and stifle him. Keep the ball out on the flanks, and let's have some crosses in to the big man. If he is on his game he will destroy their centre halves; they are dodgy without Kompany.
Good luck, Blue boys, give us something to be proud of and safe journey home to the 9000 souls making the trip.
31 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:48:32
That's a good suggestion if Mac is not fit. Would like to see what Stones could do there. Funes Mori does not deserve to be left out. He's our best defender in the air.
32 Posted 27/01/2016 at 11:52:02
I had always thought about this but am writing this now in the wake of our need to beef up our defence today and for which the only way of doing it now seems to gamble on Macca. I am aware that this post might draw flak from the faithful, especially given the time of the year I am writing this.
Hoping that lady luck of Cup games is awake tonight. COYB!
33 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:01:51
Keep the faith!
34 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:15:14
35 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:27:11
Actually, didn't we face the RS in 84 also if I remember correctly when the were allowed two goalkeepers. Hansen was it; punched the ball off the line and that was deemed within the rules and we went on to lose the replay.
36 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:29:20
Baines, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Coleman (if not fit, Stones)
Deulofeu (yes, through the middle)
McCarthy for Osman when he tires.
Barkley for Deulofeu when he tires
And a sub for the obligatory injury.
37 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:30:55
We've imploded so often in recent times that it seems almost sadistic to think we can do it. It's almost inevitable we will go down to a shite decision or a piece of bad luck.
I've no faith in Martinez's ability to out-fox Pellegrini and get us to Wembley against an ordinary Liverpool team. Then again, we only need a draw. We can get this in spite of Roberto, not because of him.
38 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:32:36
Will get the missus to turn off all mobile phones/Kindles etc so I can't look at the score until after 11:00pm or might wait until tomorrow.
Probably best to wait, so I don't go to bed angry again.
Come on Blues, prove me wrong and stuff the feckers!!
39 Posted 27/01/2016 at 12:36:41
Once we get past the first 10 minutes when the heap of complicated instructions cause us to hesitate, we should be okay so long as Jags doesn't go suicidal with the high line. Won't be surprised if Ossie plays some part. Man City fans went bonkers the way he and Barkley ran rings round Ya Ya Toure and flaked him out. Besic helped us keep the ball of course, as did Kone when we went down to 10 men.
Clichy had Deulofeu well boxed off last time but Coleman might make a difference. He looked plenty sharp the other day. On the other flank, the big hole in front of Baines is an invitation for Navas or De Bruyne and our lad will need help. Holy smoke, Aguero, Silva, De Bruyne and Ya Ya Toure. If that's not scary, nothing is. How we've managed to keep them quiet over two matches is a mystery. We couldn't even keep Swansea out.
Can't be confident but we will get 2 or 3 chances and they'll need to be converted.
40 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:04:32
41 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:05:27
42 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:14:16
43 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:25:24
44 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:26:29
45 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:26:56
If we play an open game chances are City will kill us.
This Joker isn't learning from his mistakes whatsoever.
46 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:28:24
47 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:32:00
48 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:33:12
49 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:40:23
If Coleman isn't fit, Stones right back; if Coleman is fit, Stones on the bench.
50 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:41:10
"We'll go out because we've got a clueless old cretin in charge of us."
"Prepare to be disappointed."
The City fans are more optimistic about our chances than we are!
I reckon a draw and through.
51 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:43:26
52 Posted 27/01/2016 at 13:57:10
53 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:03:07
"Romelu needs more goals and he needs to go to the first [near] post more," says Deulofeu, whom Lukaku calls 'my provider'ΓΒ.
"I always say, 'Rom, go to the first post my friend, because my crosses are dangerous'. Against Swansea, for example, we needed him at the first post."
More tactical nous there than I've heard from certain managers recently. Make Gerard the next coach.
56 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:08:34
57 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:08:39
I have sworn blind I won't watch tonight, but I know I will.
Don't ruin my holiday, Everton...
58 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:09:40
59 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:11:39
60 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:13:59
61 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:14:41
62 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:22:19
63 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:23:46
64 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:25:20
I'm bugging out of work around 2 pm to hit Lynch's Irish Pub directly across the street from the beach in Jacksonville Beach, FL, with two other born n bred Blues to watch. Normally, this is the dream afternoon.
So why do I have knots in my stomach and why am I dreading watching?...
Fucking win. Please...
65 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:30:00
66 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:30:37
67 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:56:44
When asked if he applied the same approach in his sex life, he said 'Certainly, and before you ask...... standing up in a hammock !'
Boom, boom !
68 Posted 27/01/2016 at 14:58:24
69 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:05:28
70 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:05:40
Howard will be keen to prove the critics wrong and tends to rise to the 'big' occasion. He played well in the last game v City, kept them out after they put us under siege for most of the game which, predictably, they will do tonight.
Players to beware of...?? The Whole City Squad!!!
71 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:11:24
72 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:19:40
73 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:27:18
74 Posted 27/01/2016 at 15:56:33
75 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:02:49
And yes, big gob Roberto opens his mouth and puts his four right in it... again. Not interested in keeping clean sheets when that's all we need to get to Wembley. Do we need any further proof that this man is totally unsuited to be managing us, or any Premier League team?
76 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:15:56
Very last-minute this, but has anyone got a spare for the game please?
77 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:21:51
Then to improve my mood, Roberto is spouting his usual drivel, I think he was speaking Esperanto.
I am looking forward to watching this tonight and I (have to) believe we will get a draw and meet the RS in the final. Where we score a goal like we did against Newcastle, as in last kick of the game so the fuckers can't come back.
Wemberley, Wemberley we are all pissed up and going to win the cup!
78 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:25:14
Nine games later we have six points more than we would have had that day a desperate journey that culminated against Swansea on Sunday. It's the league that counts. RM has failed the test.
Today I've seen him quoted as saying that his team can't be said to be underachieving because this group of players has never won anything. Who do you think believes that Roberto?
79 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:31:21
80 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:47:28
We have to get an away goal. It's huge. We will not keep a clean sheet. If we set up to protect the lead we are doomed.
Surely we can knick one and find a balance??
81 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:51:40
82 Posted 27/01/2016 at 16:53:08
We know we have the players to hit City hard on the break, our defence has looked a little more composed with Robles behind them.
City will try to get the early goal, that could play into our hands, teams have worked us out and parked the bus, catching us on the counter attack, City have to come at us, we just have to hope that the chances we get, we put away and not rue on missed chances.
Big following there, playing better away, feeling more positive than if it had been at Goodison and 2-1 down chasing the tie.
83 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:00:27
The pressure on Roberto is real. It made the radio today here in America on a satelitte "soccer station."
If people here are saying the pressure is on Roberto, they've got to be lining up with pitchforks over where you are!
84 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:07:34
Lukaku is off form and Otamendi will give him plenty of it tonight so Rom needs to be up for it from the start.
I'd go for FM instead of Stones. No way would I decided to try Stones out in CM in a semi-final even if it might prove a good move eventually.
I'm torn on who I'd pick in the wide areas; Pienaar to keep the ball and win soft frees and then replace with Geri when they tire. Or start Geri and try to get an away goal early.
Anyway, a morale victory losing on penalties is on the cards and words like "brave" and "gallant" will find us all giving Bobby a break...........for now.
85 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:08:35
86 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:09:00
I'd settle for a borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring 0-0 now.
87 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:09:01
88 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:12:01
89 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:12:03
90 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:17:57
I can see us scoring, but they'll score too I reckon it's gonna be tight and really is there for whoever wants it.
I'll be watching from sunny Jamaica! Up the blues!
91 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:26:45
92 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:36:26
93 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:58:45
Getting new owners is the key, not our success or failure tonight.
94 Posted 27/01/2016 at 17:59:49
95 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:01:31
Yours is the type of cowardly, shithouse post I can't stand. Terrified of a bit of stick off them should they do us in a final.
Why are some fans so fearful and paranoid of Liverpool FC?
96 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:08:08
97 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:12:35
Ross certainly gets it from the crowd, he needs to learn, and in time he will, but for now we should be encouraging the lad, and not shooting his confidence to bits.
Yes he needs to look up, pick out a team mate instead of the extra dribble, but all that will come with time and patience.
98 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:17:14
99 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:23:13
Last time this waffle merchant won a cup, he got relegated... I hope it's not an omen.
100 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:26:22
Bit over the top that, son.
101 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:31:19
102 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:33:29
Nope, it isn't over the top.
Anyone who is happy for us to lose tonight so not running the risk of getting beat in a final to them and getting some grief off their fans is exactly that.
103 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:39:29
104 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:40:17
Losing to them at Wembley was as dark as it gets.
105 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:40:39
Forget Liverpool. It's City were playing. When we see them off, then we will sort Shite out.
We say the team are not fighters. Just look at your posts and see how similar you are.
Less Negativity, if only for tonight.
106 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:41:44
Yep that source has moved on . .as in - There never was one.
Difficult to believe some actually bought it
107 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:44:50
108 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:47:43
109 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:47:57
I just saw through it instantly.
110 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:49:35
I'm with you all the way, bollocks to the shite, lets get this game done and dusted, then tear a strip off the shite in the final.
Let's be positive Blues, every dog has its day, we are due one.
111 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:50:07
112 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:50:47
113 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:52:32
Ossie starting tonight. Will he be marking Toure?
114 Posted 27/01/2016 at 18:56:54
115 Posted 27/01/2016 at 19:01:55
116 Posted 27/01/2016 at 19:03:34
Why has he started Osman?
Why is Stones at RB?
I would have played Lennon or Pienaar on the left and why isn't Seamus playing.....
117 Posted 27/01/2016 at 19:05:39
Rom needs to be connecting to Del's crosses.
Come on Everton WE CAN DO THIS!!
118 Posted 27/01/2016 at 19:11:46
119 Posted 27/01/2016 at 21:23:04
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