Everton face a tricky test if they want to advance into the 5th round of the FA Cup, as they travel to League 1 side Stevenage and hope to avoid ‘the magic of the FA Cup.’ It won’t be the first time these two sides have met, as Everton struggled past a gallant Stevenage side 2-1 a.e.t in the League Cup, so Everton will be fully aware of the threat Stevenage possess. This marks a pivotal week for Everton, as after this they have the small matter of the Merseyside Derby, as well as another game against Villa, which is also sandwiched by the close of the transfer window. Everton booked their place in the 4th round courtesy of a 4-0 win over Championship side QPR, Stevenage caused an upset as they beat Championship side Doncaster 3-2.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is well aware of the Stevenage threat saying
‘We are going to try to be as good as we can and make sure we don’t let the home side have the advantage they will otherwise have,’
‘I think in these rounds people forget that the divisional status counts for very little, and it is about how you adapt on the day to the conditions, surroundings and environment.
‘The home team is always the favourite in these rounds, so we need to make sure we are ready to face a very difficult game.’
Stevenage manager Graham Westley recalls when they upset Newcastle in 2011 saying
‘We are not thinking about a replay. We know our best chance of beating them will be here,’
‘We went into the tie against Newcastle struggling in League Two.
‘Not many saw that upset coming but we thought differently then and we are feeling in a similar mindset now.’
Stevenage Team News:
Stevenage look set to miss Dean Parrett who is struggling with a knee injury, however, they are more hopeful on Felipe Morais as he looks to overcome a dead leg. Stevenage will field a similar side to the one that went down 1-0 to Nots County on the weekend.
Possible Starting XI: Day, Smith, Ashton, Hartley, Morais, Heslop, Doughty, Freeman, Akins, Zoko
Player to watch: Francois Zoko
The leading goalscorer for Stevenage this season will once again be asked to lead the line. Aside from his goals, Zoko is going to have to out a shift in trying to pressure and harass the Everton defenders whilst in possession. With chances bound to be few and far between for Stevenage, it will be vitally important for them, that should a chance fall for Zoko, he needs to make it count.
Everton Team News:
Everton announced last night the loan signing of Lacina Traore from Monaco, however the 6’8 giant will not be able to feature against Stevenage and is very doubtful to face Liverpool as he tries to recover from a hamstring injury and as well as trying to gain full fitness given he hasn’t played since November. Seamus Coleman miss also miss the match after he injured his hamstring against West Brom, although the injury does not sound serious and could be back sooner than later. These two will be on the sidelines alongside Barkley (toe), Deulofeu (hamstring), Pienaar (groin), Alcaraz (muscle fatigue), Kone (knee) and Gibson (knee). IN a little bit of good news, new signing Aiden McGeady made his debut for Everton in the 1-1 draw at West Brom, however, given it was his first action of first team football in a couple months, expect to see him on the bench for the game.
Possible Starting XI: Robles, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Stones, Barry, McCarthy, Oviedo, Naismith, Osman, Mirallas
Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas
With the injury list growing and growing for Everton, they will need to rely on the tricky Belgian to steer them through this tricky period of the season. Mirallas was lively in the number 10 role against West Brom, and with Lukaku looking tired, could be asked to lead the line against Stevenage. Mirallas is the type of player that can single handedly win a game with a bit of magic, and Everton fans will be hoping he showcases that against Stevenage.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Having never faced each other in their histories, this will be the 2nd time this season they face each other, as Everton knocked Stevenage out of the League Cup earlier in the season.
2. Stevenage have been a difficult side for Premier League sides in the past, in 2011 they knocked out Newcastle and in 2012 they made the 5th round of the FA Cup and forced Tottenham to a replay at White Hart Lane where they lost.
3. Roberto Martinez will be hoping to create a bit of history as he attempts to win back to back FA Cup’s with 2 different sides
4. Everton have won the FA Cup 5 times in their history, with their last success coming back in 1995 under Joe Royle
5. Everton’s new signing Lacina Traore stands at 6’8, once he makes his Premier League debut, he will be the tallest player in the history of the Premier League
I am sure Everton know the threat Stevenage possess as the League 1 side pushed Everton to extra time in the League Cup, and I hope that will benefit Everton as they won’t take this side lightly now. Everton have a growing injury list, which is a big concern right now, however, the starting XI, whoever is out there, should have enough quality to get by Stevenage. I have no doubt, especially at home, that Stevenage are going to make it tough and Everton are going to have to earn this win. I think Everton will just squeak by in this match winning 2-1 with Mirallas and Naismith scoring the goals. COYB!!! ALL THE FANS WANT A GOOD CUP RUN AND IT IS ABOUT TIME WE WIN A TROPHY!!!