FA Cup 3rd Round Preview
Cenk Tosun's proposed transfer from Besitkas is reportedly close to completion and could be ratified in time for him to be eligible to face Liverpool
Updated Everton's road to Wembley starts in one of the last places they would have wanted it to… at Anfield against a Liverpool side who are unbeaten since the first derby of the season on the same ground less than a month ago.
On the 10th of December, Sam Allardyce took his new charges across Stanley Park with a mission to defend and not much else and though the danger of relegation has eased, not much appears to have changed in the interim.
Despite winning at Newcastle and brushing Swansea aside at Goodison Park, the Blues have turned in frustratingly inept attacking performances over the last four games, registering an average of one shot on target per game.
All Evertonian eyes will, therefore, be on the manager again to see how he approaches a team whose attacking prowess has not diminished since he fortuitously came away from Anfield with a point. Liverpool have scored 16 goals in five matches, the 0-0 draw at home to West Brom four days after the 1-1 draw with Everton being their only blank.
Jurgen Klopp was criticised for being too complacent with his line-up against the Blues when he rested Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané but he will be without two of that so-called “fab four” again this time, albeit not by choice. Coutinho will be omitted as his proposed move to Barcelona has reared its head again now that the transfer window is open while Mohamed Salah is ruled out as he undergoes treatment for a groin injury that kept him out of the reds' trip to Burnley on New Year's Day.
In addition to that, both the Egyptian and Mané will be in Ghana 24 hours before this FA Cup Third Round tie kicks off as they attend the Africa Footballer of the Year awards. Both players will take a six-hour flight back to Merseyside but Allardyce will be hoping that it sufficiently impacts Mane's preparation. Virgil van Dijk could start, though, following his £75m move from Southampton that was completed on Monday.
The Everton boss, meanwhile, will also be pulling for the final details of Cenk Tosun's transfer to be ironed out in time for him to be registered to play in the match. It seems that, according to FA regulations, the Turkish international would need be registered by noon tomorrow which should, assuming a final fee is agreed, mean the player can undergo a medical and then sign the required paperwork in time to qualify.
If his move from Besiktas be completed in time, it could alter Allardyce's game-plan, although on the evidence of the past few games, it's going to take more than the addition of a striker to transform Everton into an effective attacking unit. It would certainly be a start, though.
Having rotated his squad for the match against Manchester United, the manager could revert to the line-up that was so successful in the early part of his tenure, when Mason Holgate was excelling in his natural role at centre-back, Jonjoe Kenny was getting to grips with life in the first team at right back and Gylfi Sigurdsson was beginning to show signs of settling following his decidedly iffy start to life at Goodison.
Two of those three were benched on New Year's Day while Holgate played out of position and the 2-0 defeat provided enough support for the argument that they should be restored to their previous roles.
Another foot injury for Michael Keane which required stitches on Monday looks like it will force the issue at centre half regardless. The former Burnley man won't be risked by Allardyce for this match.
Elsewhere in midfield, James McCarthy's positive impact off the bench will likely earn him a place in the starting XI alongside Morgan Schneiderlin, particularly if, as is likely, Idrissa Gueye misses out with a hamstring strain.
Up front Dominic Calvert-Lewin's hold-up play would give him an advantage over Oumar Niasse, who was poor against United, and he might get the nod to start even if Tosun signs.
They might not have won at Anfield for 19 years but Everton have a favourable cup record there, having never lost an FA Cup tie on Liverpool's turf. They drew 1-1 on their last meeting in this competition thanks to a Joleon Lescott goal and you would wager that Allardyce would take another draw and the opportunity to face Klopp's rabble at Goodison if he could.
Kick-off: 7.55pm, Friday 5th January, 2018
Last Time: Liverpool 1 - 1 Everton (25 January, 2009)
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina, Schneiderlin, McCarthy, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Bolasie, Calvert-Lewin
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page