So here it is, our biggest game of the season thus far.
A game guaranteed to make you twitch like a small earthquake as if we blow it then all we can aspire to is an unlikely seventh place visit. And letÂ´s not kid ourselves; thereÂ´s a huge cherry being dangled with a potential trip to Wembley against the attention deficit disorderly reds. One that we could win and cleanse our very souls.
But itÂ´s folly to look that far ahead as Sunderland are a very decent proposition and thereÂ´s a good chance we blew a wonderful opportunity in drawing the home game in our own lacklustre way.
The Swansea game will prove a needed confidence boost. The result was great and it shouldnÂ´t be overlooked that itÂ´s a hard place to get a win, weÂ´re the only team to get a two goal win over them at home this season. It was the performance that gave much heart as we were at times quite brilliant on a hot springÂ´s day when you remember what weekends should always be about: ale, sunshine, Everton, takeaway and home to headphones in the laptop searching for the Tulisa sex tape while keeping an anxious eye on the door in case she decides to come downstairs searching for you.
So, Sunderland then. At their own ground in front of a crowd pumped right behind them and over six thousand blues to spice that pot. It promises to be a hell of a game.
They werenÂ´t all that in the original tie for which theyÂ´ll point to being without a couple of important players and generally never playing well at Goodison. TheyÂ´re up to full strength for this one and will need no motivation as theyÂ´re a club with huge support and little success to show for it. Still, theyÂ´ve won more titles than their black and white bellend neighbours which is always good to remind the customary ear ring wearing crap tattooed geordie you always find propping the bar up and pestering the local barman on holiday.
Cattermole and Sessegnon will probably play in this one with the latter scoring on his return to the team on the weekend against QPR. Cattermole will bring some presence to the midfield and itÂ´s probable that Gardner will return after being rested on the weekend. Other than that it will be the same personnel that were happy to coast out the second half camped in their own box and take us to a replay.
WeÂ´ve been through their players in the previous previews and theyÂ´ve got some decent lads who can play a bit. We do have better though and we need to swerve fretting about what theyÂ´re gonna do and play our game. Go right after them. Similar to Swansea theyÂ´ll start well no doubt and weÂ´ve got to ride that but weÂ´ve got enough good players to have them bothered about what weÂ´re doing to do.
We would have been guessing the team easily enough before a changed team bossed Swansea off the pitch. Yeah, I can picture Neville starting in midfield for this too.
Jelavic took his goal well and although still adjusting to the Premiership heÂ´s our best hope up front. He just always looks like he has a goal in him and some of his link up play is very good indeed, I just hope weÂ´ll find a decent partner for him some time soon so he can flourish.
IÂ´m not sure whoÂ´ll start behind him, itÂ´s going to be likely to be Cahill but I really wouldnÂ´t be surprised to see Fellaini there either. HeÂ´s not the long term answer but heÂ´s effective there for the time being there. This is why I can see Neville starting along with Gibson in the centre. Still too early on Gibson but he had his best game yet in the second half at Swansea and he gives us a credible goal threat from midfield.
ThereÂ´s all sorts of internet whispers about Drenthe without nothing confirmed so IÂ´ll go ahead and presume heÂ´ll start as Pienaar will very sadly be cup tied. If Drenthe does play heÂ´ll be key. Were meant to be sweating over Sessegnon but on his day Drenthe is every bit as dangerous to the opposition. If he spends more than 65% of the game on his feet then heÂ´ll do a job. Osman will be on the other side of midfield and isnÂ´t too popular with the opposition after the snidey penalty he won on Boxing Day there. ItÂ´s very much not Osman at all that but it doesnÂ´t stop my mackem mates persisting with a fatwah on him.
Jagielka also gave Moyes something to think about as in the first half against Swansea he was excellent. Heitinga will start as he was rested against Swansea but it will be interesting to see if it´s Distin or Jagielka alongside him, I´d still think it will be the Frenchman. Hibbert isn´t playing to his usual benchmark of averageness but should start. And please let Baines take any free kicks within 30 yards of their goal, that was brilliant
Although the trepidation will be eating away on the inside itÂ´s a very winnable tie. Turn up, do our thing and get out of there with the tie won. No regrets, no excuses, no hard luck stories just a boss Everton pissing the opposition off.