Everton travel to the Emirates to take on Arsenal knowing that a semi final berth at Wembley is on the line as they face off in the Quarter finals of the FA Cup. Both sides come into the match struggling for a bit of form, however, Everton managed to break their recent slide of poor results with a 1-0 home win over West Ham. The Gunners however were dealt a massive blow in the race for the title as they succumbed to a 1-0 loss at Stoke. Everton booked their place in the last 8 courtesy of a 3-1 win over Swansea City, meanwhile Arsenal defeated Liverpool 2-1 to earn their place in the Quarters. This will be the 2nd time Everton travel to the Emirates this season, and 1st time out was a tight and even affair with the match ending 1-1.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the upcoming tie
‘I do feel we are ready to be successful in the cup because the team has shown it is ready to face different environments, different types of opposition and we’ve always been extremely professional.
‘Obviously to be able to compete against a team like Arsenal in their own ground is going to be as big a test as you’re going to get but we feel that if we can get through that the team will be ready to be very successful.’
Arsenal Team News:
The international fixtures midweek was not kind to Arsenal with news that midfielder Jack Wilshere suffered a broken foot and is facing up to 2 months on the sidelines. He will join fellow midfielders Kallstrom (back), Ramsey (groin) and Diaby (knee) on the sidelines as well as long term absentee Walcott (knee). Wenger will have a couple decisions to make ahead of the game with defenders Koscielny (hamstring) and Monreal (ankle) both facing late fitness tests ahead of the game. Adding to Wenger’s problems, the Frenchman does have the unenviable task of taking on the European Champions Bayern midweek in the 2nd leg of their Champions League tie, so it will be interesting to see whether Wenger elects to rest a couple players with a view on the match midweek.
Possible Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski, Giroud
Player to watch: Mesut Ozil
The German’s form has dipped a bit after his superb form earlier in the season, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it coincides with Arsenal’s poor form of late. He is the barometer for this Arsenal side as he spearheads Arsenal’s attack. The German possesses excellent vision, passing and in general his ability on the ball is exceptional. That is why Everton will have to limit the space and touches for Ozil because if you give him time and space he will pick your defence to pieces.
Everton Team News:
Everton got through the midweek international games unscathed. However, they still have one or two concerns with the major one surrounding the fitness of club captain Phil Jagielka who is struggling with a hamstring injury, he is listed as a doubt for the game, with next week more likely for him. Everton also received news that Traore, whose only appearance and goal for the club come in the last round of the FA Cup will be sidelined for perhaps the next 2 months with a hamstring injury. He joins Kone (knee), Gibson (knee) and Oviedo (leg) on the long term absentees list. In some good news, Everton did welcome back striker Lukaku and he marked his return to the first team scoring the winner, after making his return off the bench, it is expected that he will start against Arsenal.
Possible Starting XI: Robles, Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Pienaar, Barkley, Lukaku
Player to watch: Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku showed in about 10mins what Everton have been lacking recently, an out and out striker who knows where the goals are. His return is a timely boost for Everton as they attempt to finish the season strong, and with the prospect of having a fit and fresh Romelu Lukaku for the reminding games is a major boost for the side. His unique combination of pace and power makes him a big threat to any side, combine that with his eye for goal, and it is what makes him one of the brightest prospects in Europe.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Despite the rich history of both these clubs, they have only faced each other 3 times in the FA Cup, with the last meeting coming back in 1981. Everton lead the head to head 2 to 1.
2. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 13 league home games, winning 10 and drawing the other 3, and they have only conceded 3 goals during that span, however one of those goals did come in the 1-1 draw with Everton in December
3. Arsenal have only lost twice at home in the FA Cup under Arsene Wenger (Winning 27 and drawing the other 10). However, one of those losses did come last season at the hands of Blackburn.
4. Everton have only won one game in their last 10 away matches in the FA Cup when they have faced top flight sides.
5. It was at this stage last season where Everton stumbled out of the Cup at the hands of Wigan, who was of course managed by now current Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
It was a very unkind draw for Everton, given some of the other ties in the Quarters, but it is the luck of the draw, and Everton certainly have the capability of beating Arsenal on their day, they will have drawn some confidence from their 1-1 draw at the Emirates in the league, and hopefully Arsenal will have one eye on their Champions League tie against Bayern midweek, and hopefully Everton could capitalise on that and get a positive result and book their place at Wembley. Both sides are desperate for silverware, and this cup represents the last hope for both of them for this season, so I would expect both sides to go at it 100%. As for a result, I am sitting on the fence and saying a 1-1 draw with a replay at Goodison to come. COYB!!! WEMBLEY IS SO CLOSE, LETS DO THIS BOYS!!!!!