Focus switches from the League to the FA Cup as Everton go in search of winning a major trophy for the first time since 1995. The Blues travel south to take on League One Stevenage, knowing that a place in the fifth round of the worlds oldest cup competition is up for grabs. Roberto Martinez’ men go into the clash as huge favourites, but with the BT Sport cameras in town, the Blues will need to avoid complacency and the public embarrassment that would come with defeat.
The sides have met once before, ironically earlier this season, in the League Cup. Everton were a little fortunate to emerge victorious back in August, but the Blues have made huge strides since the opening few games of the season. Gerard Deulofeu was instrumental in that win, and although the young Spaniard is unavailable through injury, Everton have become far more adept in the methods of Roberto Martinez and the Toffees should be far too strong for ‘Boro’.
Stevenage led for a brief moment at Goodison, through Luke Freeman, but a Deulofeu equaliser took the game into extra time, before Marouane Fellaini signed off his Everton career with the winner.
Since that earlier season meeting at Goodison, Graham Westley’s men have endured a difficult season. Surprisingly for a side that equipped themselves so well against the Blues, Stevenage have fought a season long battle against relegation. Just six wins all season has left them rock bottom of the league and defeat at home to fellow stragglers Notts County, in their last league match will have done little for their confidence.
Despite their league form, Stevenage have already progressed through three round of the competition, beating Portsmouth, Stourbridge and Championship side, Doncaster Rovers to reach this stage of the cup. The former non-league side have a proud cup tradition with a famous victory over Newcastle in 2011 their greatest moment. The club’s Broadhall Way ground holds just 7,000 supporters, many of whom will be standing on the terraces. This can make for an intimidating atmosphere and Tottenham Hotspur found this out in 2012, when they were taken to a replay after a 0-0 draw at Stevenage.
The Blues injury list is once again stacking up. Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar are the latest to be ruled out, but with muscle injuries, leaving the Everton squad stretched to its maximum. With the deal to bring Lacina Traore still to be signed, Everton are a little light up front, with only Romelu Lukaku available as a front line striker.
Martinez has promised to name a strong side and has used the press to assure the watching public that Everton will not be taking this match lightly.
Despite that, Joel is expected to replace Howard in-goal, but due to the number of injuries the Blues are not expected to make many changes from the side that played West Brom on Monday, although Aiden McGeady may be given a first start.
Possible Starting Team: Joel; Baines, Stones, Jagielka, Distin; Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas; McGeady, Oviedo; Lukaku.
Everton are looking to win the FA Cup for a 6th time after previous wins in 1906, 1933, 1966, 1984 and 1995.
Everton beat QPR 4-0 in the 3rd Round.
Stevenage beat Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in the 3rd Round, Stourbridge 4-0 in the 2nd Round and Portsmouth 2-1 in the 1st Round.
The sides have met once before, Everton winning 2-1 after Extra Time in this season’s Capital One Cup 2nd Round.
With only one previous meeting between the sides, which took place this season, we have looked back at a classic fourth round win over Doncaster Rovers in 1985. The Blues were holders of the famous cup and came up against Doncaster Rovers, featuring Ian Snodin in the fourth round. Everton proved too strong for their lower league opposition, winning with goals from Trevor Steven and Gary Stevens.