The FA Cup is vital for Everton’s season
To some fans, Roberto Martinez is barely hanging on to his job at Goodison Park and that failure in the FA Cup may see the end of his tenure as Everton boss.
The Blues are desperate for silverware and Martinez has previous in this competition. He’s already won the FA Cup with a Wigan Athletic side that was not as talented as his current crop of players. They made up for that with hard work though, something the Toffees have lacked recently.
Overcoming an FA Cup hoodoo that Chelsea seem to have over Everton may keep the figurative wolves away from Martinez’s door for now. If the Blues don’t progress however, the pressure may turn up tenfold on the Catalan.
The return of Gerard Deulofeu?
Gerard Deulofeu could return for the Blues after Kevin Mirallas picked up a red card against West Ham United. The Toffees will also need another creative figure if they want to break down a Chelsea defence that can really frustrate on their day.
Deulofeu offers Everton an impactful and direct player who is always looking forward. He will keep his marker on their toes and keep them in defence instead of looking to venture forward and allowing Deulofeu to have space behind him.
The wingers eye for a pass compliments Aaron Lennon’s workman like approach on the opposite flank. Lennon will track back and do defensive dirty work, giving Deulofeu the ability to stay further forward and support Romelu Lukaku while counter attacking.
Chelsea’s injury problems
During the Champions League tie with Paris Saint Germain, both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard ended the game with injuries. Both players are a doubt for the weekends game and it is something Everton will need to take advantage of.
In cup competitions it is all about winning and moving forward regardless of what opposition you face. If Costa misses out, Bertrand Traore is proving to be a capable replacement with four goals in his last five games.
If Hazard misses out, Chelsea have the option to play with a supporting three with a selection of Kenedy, Pedro, Willian and Oscar.
Chelsea may even opt to go two up front with Alexandre Pato playing alongside Traore. This sort of attacking line up may suit Everton who like to play on the counter attack. Offering Everton space and an extra man in midfield could be to Chelsea’s detriment.
Defensive selection headache
John Stones is back to full fitness and now present Roberto Martinez with a selection headache. Ramiro Funes Mori has been a more than capable replacement but has found himself shouldering the blame for a number of goals the Blues have conceded recently.
Stones returned against West Ham United but was replaced by Muhamed Besic at half time. He was not having his best game and did not look comfortable.
If the former Chelsea transfer target replaces Mori on Saturday he will have to win over critics who have been on his back for playing about with the ball at the back for too long. In his first season under Martinez, Stones showed flashes of brilliance on the ball but knew when to clear the ball under pressure.
Since then he has slowly turned into player who has not looked comfortable in defence and has played himself into a number of mistakes that have come to close to costing Everton in games and some that have cost the Blues.
A choice between energy and calm for Martinez
Muhamed Besic has shown that he is full of energy and running in midfield for Everton and can even more forward with the ball. Gareth Barry started on the bench against West Ham United through illness but is fit for the cup tie.
Martinez may find himself choosing between Besic who put in a very good performance against West Ham or Barry who gives the Blues a calm head in midfield. Barry is always buzzing around loose balls and does his fair shift defensive but many fans have criticised the use of two defensive midfielders at home for Everton.
Besic can play as a single defensive midfielder, allowing Martinez to push James McCarthy forward and may even drop Ross Barkley to play alongside him in the centre of midfield.
Barry has arguably been Everton’s player of the season so the choice to replacement him now with Besic is another headache that Martinez faces ahead of a vital game and potential turning point for Everton.