With Everton booking their spot in the 6th round of the FA Cup midweek, their attentions must shift once again to the league as they take on Reading at Goodison Park on Saturday. The 3-1 win over Oldham midweek stopped a run of 6 games without a win and Everton will be hoping their cup form can rub off in the league as they desperately need the 3pts, not only to keep in touch with the top 5, but to keep them ahead of the chasing pack. Reading will be looking to emulate their performance against Everton earlier in the season, as they won 2-1, however, they will need to improve their form as last week they were convincingly beaten by fellow relegation candidates Wigan 3-0.
Everton shot stopper Tim Howard is confident Everton can find their early season form saying
“I don`t think we are firing on all cylinders. And at the moment, I think that`s a good thing, We have advanced in the cup and have a home draw. And you look at the league table and we`re still in the thick of it. We have to start doing the business but we are still in there. We seem to be higher up the league at this stage of the season than we have been in a while. We don`t have a large squad, so it`s going to be about big players stepping up to the plate and producing when it matters.”
Reading manager Brian McDermott insists his side is raring to go following the defeat to Wigan saying
“Everyone came in on Monday and was ready to crack on, the first 43 minutes of that game (against Wigan), we could have been one up and it could have gone either way. You can look at the camaraderie – Wigan were at their best and are a decent side when the opposition are down to 10 men, but our boys hung in there and the camaraderie is first class, so we have got to move on from that and look ahead to our next game. They are all raring to go. Everyone is raring to go and looking forward to going there.”
Everton Team News:
Everton were without star player Marouane Fellaini for the match against Oldham, however, assistant manager Steve Round did ensure the Belgian will be fit enough to face Reading. Victor Anichebe, who has missed the past 2 games with a groin injury, is slowly making his way back to first team duties, however, whether he will be risked this week, is a matter for Moyes to decide. The only definite absentee for the Toffees is Tony Hibbert who is still out with a calf problem.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar, Mirallas, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas
The other Belgian at Goodison Park put in a sparkling performance, especially early on against Oldham midweek. It was a nice sight for Everton fans as he has struggled for form since returning from persistent hamstring injuries which sidelined him for around 3 months. Everton fans will be hoping Mirallas can continue that form for the rest of the season, because Mirallas is really a unique player in this Everton squad, no player in the squad has the combination of pace and technique as Mirallas possesses, and when he is on top form, he makes Everton far more dangerous.
Reading Team News:
Reading will be without strikers Pavel Pogrebnyak, who is suspended after picking up a red card against Wigan last week and veteran Jason Roberts who is still sidelined with a hip problem, which could mean that super sub Adam Le Fondre, who came on against Everton to score twice in their win earlier this season, could get the start. Reading will also miss Alex McCarthy, who has a shoulder complaint.
Possible Starting XI: Federici, Kelly, Morrison, Mariappa, Harte, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe, Akpan, McAnuff, Le Fondre
Player to watch: Adam Le Fondre
Everton fans felt the force of the super sub last time they met. As mentioned earlier, the striker came on and scored twice to give Reading the win and Reading fans will be hoping he can do the same on the weekend. Due to the suspension to Pogrebnyak and injury to Roberts, Le Fondre could find himself starting upfront and will be interesting to see whether he could adapt his game accordingly. Everton defenders will surely be wary of his threat this time round and will know very well that given a chance, Le Fondre will punish Everton.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton have only won once in the last 6 league games, although there home form is solid only losing once in their 13 home league games this season
2. Only Manchester United (9) have won more points in the last 10 minutes then Reading, who have earned 8pts in the last 10 minutes of games
3. Conversely, only Spurs (8) have lost more points in the last 10 minutes than Everton, who has lost 7pts in the last 10 minutes of game
4. The match pits two sides who cannot keep a lead, Reading have dropped 20pts from winning positions this season and Everton have dropped 19pts from winning positions.
5. Everton have only won 2 of the 5 Premier League encounters between the two sides.
Last weeks disappointing loss to Norwich meant that a bit of a gap had opened up between themselves and the top 5, not to mention, the likes of Liverpool and Swansea are now within striking distance of Everton. 3pts are important for Everton to ensure they keep in touching distance of the top 5 and hold any hopes for Europe. Midweek saw an improved performance from Everton against Oldham, but the cup is different to the league and it will be interesting to see if Everton can pick up their form in the league, something they desperately need to do. As for a prediction, I am going for an Everton win, the main reason behind that is we are playing at Goodison Park, where we have been decent this season and Reading don’t have the best away form. I am going for a 3-1 scoreline with Mirallas, Jelavic and Fellaini scoring for Everton and Le Fondre for Reading. COYB!!!! NEED THE 3PTS DESPERATELY!!!!!