Everton face Wigan in the quarter-final of the FA Cup later today looking to make it to the last four of the competition for the second consecutive year.
The Toffee’s suffered a gut wrenching defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Liverpool at Wembley in last season’s semi-final.
Everton have enjoyed a good season and are still in with an outside chance of making the Champions League spots and are now in with a good chance of making it to the last four of the FA Cup.
Everton’s form has slumped in the last few months. The slump has left the Toffee’s seven points off the Champions League spots. However, in the last two wins against Oldham and last weekend Reading David Moyes’ side have looked to have regained some form.
In the Reading game Everton were playing football again, just like they did in the bright start to the campaign. The likes of Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar looked like they could be coming back into form.
Belgium forward Kevin Mirallas also got on the scoresheet for second game in a row, which is encouraging since striker Nikica Jelavic is struggling so desperately in front of goal.
It may just be two games, but it seems that the Everton players now realise that they do still have a lot to play for this season, despite the mini-slump.
Everton have a long history in the FA Cup, dating back to 1906 when the club first claimed the trophy. Since then Everton have won the FA Cup four more times and been runners-up eight times.
The FA Cup is a trophy that traditionally Evertonian’s have an affinity with, despite the competition bringing us heartbreak on a number of occasions.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has already suggested that he isn’t likely to field his strongest side in the quarter-final and that staying in the Premier League is his clubs priority. Wigan has never made it to the semi-final stage of the competition, yet look set to name a weakened line-up.
Everton do still have a slim chance of getting in the top four of the Premier League, but that is looking more unlikely by the week. However, winning the FA Cup is a very real prospect. The draw was kind to Everton, with Wigan minds on other matters; surely it will be the Blues that progress into the semi-finals?
David Moyes has done a sterling job at Everton, although he has yet to win silverware in nearly 11 years at the club. It’s a fact that annoys the Scot and Everton fans alike. Everton lost the final against Chelsea in 2009 and also lost that aforementioned semi-final to Liverpool last season.
The Everton team seemed to have an inferiority complex against Liverpool last season for some unknown reason. Arguably Everton’s team was comparable with Liverpool in terms of quality (Luis Suarez apart), yet the Everton players froze on the big occasion.
Evertonian’s won’t need to worry about meeting their local rivals in the semi-finals this season though, as Liverpool were famously knocked out the cup by League One Oldham, who Everton put out of the competition in the last round at the second time of asking.
This is a real opportunity for Everton to claim silverware for the first time in nearly two decades. The Everton players need to show that they want it more than Wigan and make it through to the semi-finals.
The likely opponents in the semi-finals could be Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City. These are all teams that Everton have beaten in recent seasons. When on form Everton can defeat anybody from the top flight, as proven in the opening day victory over league leaders Manchester United.
Everton boss David Moyes’ future at Everton is in major doubt. The Scot’s contract at Goodison expires in the summer and he has stated he won’t discuss an extension until the season finishes.
Nobody knows what is in David Moyes’ plans. However, an FA Cup final victory would be one hell of swansong for the man that has helped Everton progress so much in the last decade.
Could this finally be Everton’s year to win silverware?