FA Cup QF Preview
Gareth Barry is expected to return after recovering from the chest infection afflicting Finch Farm
Everton go head-to-head with Chelsea this weekend in an FA Cup Quarter Final tie that has taken on massive importance for both teams.
With the reigning Champions well out of the title race and now out of Europe, this particular road to Wembley represents the last chance for either side to land a trophy this season as they have struggled through their respective difficulties on the pitch.
Since sacking Jose Mourinho, Chelsea under Guus Hiddink have been on an impressive run of form. A 13-match unbeaten run in the Premier League has lifted them above the Toffees and into contention for a Europa League qualification place.
Everton, meanwhile, have dropped back into the bottom half of the table and with no sign that they are capable of stringing together a sequence of wins down the final stretch that could push them into the top six, the cup feels like the best route into Europe for Roberto Martinez’s side.
With that in mind, while Martinez could never admit it — indeed, he has denied it as would be expected — Everton’s season effectively rests on the outcome of this tie. Win and the Blues are a step closer to the Final and have a date at Wembley in the last four the plan for. Lose and it probably is curtains for 2015-16 with two months of the campaign still to go. The Catalan has time and un unpredictable Premier League on his side but even though he insists his team is well-positioned heading into the final 10 games, the form book suggests all his eggs should be in an FA Cup-sized basket.
Martinez will be forced into at least one change to the team that started against West Ham. Kevin Mirallas serves the first match of a two-game ban for his second red card of the season, creating a vacancy on the left side of midfield that could be filled by Tom Cleverley or Muhamed Besic.
Both are fully fit now following illness and a hamstring injury respectively which, when combined with Gareth Barry’s return to full availability following the chest infection that also sidelined Cleverley, it poses a selection dilemma for Martinez. Cleverley has been deployed on the left on a number of occasions already this season while Besic was named in that position against Chelsea in the League back in September but succumbed to an early injury.
Meanwhile, Aaron Lennon has been listed by the club as doubtful because of a hamstring complaint and Bryan Oviedo’s hospitalisation with bronchitis in midweek means he is in the same boat as the manager prepares for tomorrow’s late-afternoon kick-off. The former is, perhaps, the more likely of the two to play this weekend and assuming the Costa Rican misses out, Leighton Baines could start despite the reported discomfort he has been experiencing in his ankle. Gerard Deulofeu could get the nod after weeks of inacitivity if Lennon doesn't make it.
Then there is the question of central defence where John Stones's return to fitness has presented a selection problem that the manager attempted to deal with by fielding a back three last weekend, Stones was sacrificed at half-time following Mirallas's first-half dismissal but there is speculation that Ramiro Funes Mori's central involvement in all three of the Hammers' goals might push Martinez to pull him out of the starting XI after an extended run of impressive form in the side.
Chelsea, meanwhile, didn’t come out of their Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Paris St Germain without picking up a couple of injury doubts of their own.
Diego Costa was forced off in the second half of that game with a thigh tendon problem and he was followed soon afterwards by Eden Hazard whose ongoing groin issues have prompted talk in the press from his father who claims that Chelsea are forcing him to play through pain this season.
Hazard, last year’s Player of the Year, has echoed the Londoners’ general form this term and been below par for much of the campaign, and while the noises out of Stamford Bridge today have suggested the Belgian will be available, it’s hard to imagine he will be firing on all cylinders.
Costa, however, has shown a propensity to recover quickly from knocks of his own in the past and could pass a late fitness test. John Terry, returning from a hamstring strain, will all be assessed late before Hiddink makes any final decisions.
As they showed in September — albeit thanks to the now-departed Steven Naismith’s goals — when they beat Mourinho’s men handily and in January at Stamford Bridge in that infamous 3-3 draw, Everton can more than match Chelsea when they’re in the mood. They also demonstrated in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City that they can thrive in a raucous cup-tie atmosphere under the Goodison lights and overcome a top team.
The Blues will have to draw on all of their collective spirit and determination for this one to ensure that 2015-16 does not fizzle out into nothing more than weeks of recriminations and regret. For Martinez, personally, the result of the tie is likely to dictate how much pressure he will be under in the coming weeks amid increasing restlessness and concern among the fanbase.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Predicted Line-up: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Besic, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku
Reader Comments (51)
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1 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:01:48
I think fortunately Chelsea might not have enough in terms of attacking personnel to get back into the game if we can get a few goals up.
That said, it wouldn't in the least bit surprise me if lost 4-3, scored some wonder goals, had a soft penalty against us, a handball missed and scored an own goal from the half way line.
That's the great thing about Roberto's Everton. Expect the expected which, for anyone but a Blue, is the unexpected.
Really though we do need to get to another semi final, we've been to a lot of quarters in recent decades and then dropped out under Smith, Moyes (bloody Wigan) and Roberto himself two seasons ago when Arse (always drawn at home in the Cup) nal thrashed us.
3 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:25:41
Forget what Martinez says that this game is not make or break, this IS make or break and it will decide whether our season dies on its knee's or not by 7.30 pm tomorrow evening.
For once, just once you'd like to think Everton Football Club will make us proud and not "bottle" it on the big occasion as we habitually do.
Sadly I'm not confident in getting past a Chelsea team that also shares the same fate as us if they lose tomorrow in having nothing else to play for.
All I will say is if we lose tomorrow and next week against Arsenal at Goodison then the atmosphere could soon become extremely toxic.
What a monumental week this could be for Everton .
4 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:29:08
Let them worry about us.
5 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:44:10
6 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:48:16
2-2 draw, anybody?
7 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:49:35
Anyway, if we were to win I still can't see us winning the cup, not while the likes of Man Utd, West Ham and Arsenal are still in it, though one of them are going out.
No it's still going to be hard for us and if Reading win tonight do you think we'd draw them? No, thought not.
8 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:50:20
But it's a cup game and anything could happen Goodison televised under lights, inebriated crowd desperate for a win, new owner to impress. Should be well worth watching either way.
9 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:50:47
10 Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:56:30
11 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:01:54
12 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:03:45
13 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:04:25
However, Martinez is doing a very good job of being David Moyes in that tie 2013 at the moment.
14 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:09:04
I hope that Stones and Jagielka get their acts together tomorrow. No funny shit, just clear the bloody ball away from Chelsea.
15 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:28:10
Our players could be psychologically up against it, because we cant seem to get over the line and win at home this season.
You can bet Chelsea will be getting the ball into the box at every opportunity, no wonder after the goals we keep conceding.
The manager keeps getting it in the neck, while our defenders get a relative free ride, take a look at the 3 West Ham goals, they are hopeless when the balls in the air.
Even though Funes Mori is involved in conceding all the goals on Sat. and should have done better on each, I would say he's the best of a bad bunch!
I've not a clue what the result tomorrow will be, the betting is saying a draw, which sounds about right.
16 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:35:06
They both get so many decisions with their aggression to the twats in black and if you think I'm exaggerating then just look tomorrow, I fucking guarantee they will surround the ref for every decision.
17 Posted 11/03/2016 at 20:38:11
Should the end result hinge on tactics, we are dog meat.
19 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:05:09
I think Lennon has scored more than Lukaku in the last few games.
20 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:25:52
I'll be in a foul mood with the classless, historyless bastards because I've been relocated from my usual seat for a cup game yet again.
A win is all I want tomorrow, none of your usual shite please, Martinez and your third-rate helpers. You're finished if you do.
22 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:43:29
I'm coming over the pond and just checked my seat assignment I'm sitting right next to you! ;0)
23 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:49:40
If we want to progress into the semis, this is the kind of pressure we MUST exert and forget about the 'gentlemanly' approach which has far too often been our downfall.
And remember, a football match is for 90-plus minutes and not inviting the opposition to get at us after half-time. I was worried in case Clattenberg reffed but instead we have to put up with an equally inept and card happy moron in Oliver who could turn the tie into 'Another Nice Mess' by his incompetence... what price at least one red???
24 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:49:52
25 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:52:44
27 Posted 11/03/2016 at 21:57:01
Up the Blues!
28 Posted 11/03/2016 at 22:03:57
First day of a new era? The day we slay the Giants for 90 not 70? The day I teach my son that we have to walk round the ground twice and touch each corner before the game for luck. This. This is what it is ALL about! :)
29 Posted 11/03/2016 at 22:04:39
Don't we just know we will have to put up with Kopite behaviour despite them being already out the cup. I predict either a load of replica wearing shite or a stupid "Yourapeeeeen cups" banner. I wait with bated breath to see how they will try and grab the limelight.
30 Posted 11/03/2016 at 22:10:36
I would love to see Besic starting, man-marking Willian, who's the dangerman for us.
31 Posted 11/03/2016 at 22:29:37
Yes, they had their barren years... but what club hasn't? You sound like one of them cretins from over the park who think football began in 1992. Give it a rest please.
32 Posted 11/03/2016 at 22:33:50
Maybe cup matches are a bit different though, we usually put in the required effort and focus to win out.
Chelsea are technically gifted, our only hope is to run them off the park, and use the crowd to our advantage. I only hope Roberto sees it that way and forgets about his philosophy for once.
33 Posted 11/03/2016 at 23:09:52
The bookies make us favourites and so they should. With Mr Moshiri in the stands and Wembley beckoning, I'm expecting a fine winning display. That said, if we are 2 up with 20 minutes to go, it will be all hands to the pump and I do not want to see Barkley or Lukaku on that pitch.
35 Posted 11/03/2016 at 00:11:20
ps: If you could help out the assistant referees to get the correct offside calls to prevent more gift goals for Chelsea, that would be appreciated.
36 Posted 12/03/2016 at 00:49:21
Thank you for posting about your five-year-old son. I was going to post some miserable old git negativity but you reminded me what it's all about. Family, fun and wide-eyed excitement the first time you attend a big match at GP. I hope it's a game your son will remember for all right reasons. COYB
38 Posted 12/03/2016 at 06:17:36
40 Posted 12/03/2016 at 07:38:06
In fairness the lads helping me remember what it's all about too. Got up this morning at 6am and came in to our room singing "we've got a diamond...."
41 Posted 12/03/2016 at 08:00:57
I'd be happy to provide some education if you are anywhere near PK4.
42 Posted 12/03/2016 at 10:32:15
My first game always gives me nightmares. My Dad (a RedShite) took me to see a Boxing Day game when I was 5... early sixties, standing on the Kop, I couldn't see a thing. I got lifted over everyone's head to the touch line, then taken away by the police so missed the game... It still makes me shiver as I write this.
ps: I took my two grandkids (one Arsenal, one Spurs) to the Old Lady, drove them round 20 times telling them the history, then drove them back to London playing "It's a Grand Old Team" non-stop. Enjoy your day, Gary, and let's hope we are all smiling tonight.
43 Posted 12/03/2016 at 10:32:50
My first game was as a 6-year-old in 1970. It was played in March. The score, Everton 5 - Chelsea 2.
Same again would be nice, do you not think!
44 Posted 12/03/2016 at 10:59:03
45 Posted 12/03/2016 at 11:05:01
46 Posted 12/03/2016 at 11:06:10
47 Posted 12/03/2016 at 11:12:29
48 Posted 12/03/2016 at 11:49:36
I was 6 and all I can remember was being scared by the noise!!
I've just looked up the scorers and Kendall did score, and for the record so did Ball, Royle (2) and Whittle.
I'm now going to have a daft fiver on 5-2 today.
49 Posted 12/03/2016 at 14:14:53
50 Posted 12/03/2016 at 15:07:55
Deulofeu may be the other to get a re-appearance as Lennon is feeling a hammy.
No chance of RM seeing Tim as his Cup keeper but stranger things have happened!
51 Posted 12/03/2016 at 15:16:27
No gung ho against a very clever coach as Hiddink is, just frustrate them then bang. Coyb.
52 Posted 12/03/2016 at 15:59:54
An underrated player Kenyon. A mate of mine who played for Norwich at the time described him as THE hardest defender he'd ever played against, and he played against Smith, Hunter and Harris!
Wish we had him today.
53 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:03:42
54 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:05:19
55 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:08:54
I remember Rog right hooking Colin Stein of Coventry in the centre circle. Not many cameras around at that time, great memory though.
Also wish we had someone with the spirit and guts of Mick Lyons. Ah well, I can dream.
56 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:32:03
He has shamed and embarrassed the club and the fans. His refusal to ever admit responsibility for the team's inept performances and shameful results, shows the club and fans that he is a fraud and a phoney. Win, lose or draw is of no consequence. Although I do fear for all Evertonians that we will suffer yet another ritual humiliation on our home ground.
57 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:48:47
58 Posted 12/03/2016 at 16:50:42
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