Everton – Swansea (FA Cup)
On Sunday, at Goodison Park Everton will host Swansea for the fifth-round of the FA Cup. It will be a reunion of sorts. During Roberto Martinez tenure in Wales he was team-mate and then manager to Gary Monk. But when the whistle blows none of it matters, only the possibility to go forward and secure an invitation to the final at Wembley.
The Toffees benefited from an unexpected rest with their mid-week fixture being postponed due to extreme winds. With that match shorter they sit in 6th place with 45 points, 5 adrift Tottenham and 2 clear of Man United. Comfortable enough, still an eye in that 4th illusive spot. But Roberto Martinez called it right, wining the FA Cup would be a way around it, even just being finalist could do the trick, supposing the League Champions are the opposition. Getting some silverware is not a minor objective but this extra-motivation can make things even more thrilling. The Spaniard has a hand-full of men in the treatment room and he learned his lesson about rushing players in with Ross Barkley. The young talented midfielder had fractured his toe in January, during the cup tie against QPR, and was ruled out for six weeks. But he showed such improvements and eagerness the staff deemed him fit later that same month. It was clearly too soon and he had to be taken out.
Martinez won the trophy last year with Wigan Athletic, an achievement slightly undermined by seeing the club relegated. This time around he hails the chance of being successful in both fronts. Consistency has been Toffees trade mark under him and curiously enough David Moyes hasn’t been missed at Goodison Park. They are organized and have evolved from that somewhat direct football the previous manager favoured.
Ivory Coast giant Lacina Traoré will have his début start for Everton. It was scheduled to happen on Wednesday but failed through with the match being delayed.
Romelu Lukaku (ankle), Antolin Alcaraz (muscle fatigue), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Arouna Koné and Darron Gibson (both knee) will all miss out due to injury.
Probable line-up: Howard – Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines – McCarthy, Barry – Mirallas, Osman, Pienaar – Traoré.
Eleven days ago the Swans parted ways with the Bid Dane and installed 34-year-old current player Garry Monk as manager for the “foreseeable future”. It took him a lot of courage to take on such a task, the responsibility to maintain the Welsh side in the Premier League in his first experience has gaffer. So far he has overseen a comprehensive victory over Cardiff City (3-0) in the Welsh derby and a 1-1 stalemate at Britannia.
Swansea – and their manager as a player – have the experience of winning a cup last season, the League Cup that is. And they know only too well such silverware can also be a springboard to the European competitions.
Jonjo Shelvey is the only casualty Gary Monk has for this match. It is possible Michu will return to action in this cup fixture after two months side-lined. The Spaniard underwent surgery to repair ankle ligament damage suffered in December.
Probable line-up: Vorm – Rangel, Williams, Flores, Davies – Britton, De Guzman – Dyer, Routledge, Hernández – Bony.
The Swans were unable to win any of the last 13 games they’ve played against the Toffees, lost 12 and draw once. That’s an heavy load. But Gary Monk taking over from Michael Laudrup has had a positive impact in a squad that is not short of talent. The former centre-back said he learned a lot with Roberto Martinez, in fact they have been exchanging pleasantries all week. Maybe he picked up a few tips on how to win the FA Cup.