The Blues are winless since their 2-0 Europa League win over Hajduk Split towards the end of August and haven’t found the back of the net in nearly a month. This completion could offer a chance to get back on track but Simon Grayson’s Sunderland side won’t roll over quite simply.
Grayson’s Black Cats side sit 21st in the Sky Bet Championship and haven’t won since their previous round win in this competition against Carlisle United. With Everton looking rudderless and in free fall, they’ll be targeting a cup upset on Merseyside.
Everton have been routinely put out at this round in the League Cup in recent years and whilst Ronald Koeman will be looking to get his own side’s season back on track, it’s quite possible the Blues don’t field a team that is fully intending on progressing in this competition.
In Focus: A disastrous start for the Blues
When the Premier League fixtures came out, much was made of Everton’s difficult start. Yes, the Toffees have had to play the majority of the Premier League top six - with only Arsenal and Liverpool left to play of the group - but Ronald Koeman’s side looks devoid of being able to put in a performance.
Sunday’s 4-0 defeat away at Manchester United didn’t properly reflect Koeman’s sides performance but again the big issues with the squad reared their heads.
The Blues haven’t scored in nearly a month and before Sunday, had gone an abysmally long length of time without even a shot on target. So much so that Blues fans on Social Media had begun sarcastically treating Sunday’s first shot on target akin to an actual goal.
Their wait for a goal goes on as patience grows thin with the squad and the manager.
Ronald Koeman isn’t really in any danger of being removed from his position as Everton boss, Farhad Moshiri is giving him the time needed to turn it around, but it has to start on Wednesday.
The Dutch boss may not be under any pressure right now but he will be if he fails to start justifying his lofty wage and fails to begin turning this season around before it stalls.
A look at: Sunderland
Since being relegated from the Premier League, Sunderland have yet to find their feet in the Sky Bet Championship. They currently sit 21st in the table and have won only one of their eight league games – a 3-1 win over Norwich City.
The last time the two sides met, the Blues picked up a 2-0 win as Sunderland were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table. That Everton team is much changed from the one that will line-up on Wednesday night, as goals from Idrissa Gana Gueye and Romelu Lukaku wrapped up the three points.
Jordan Pickford was between the sticks for his boyhood club on that day after returning from a knee injury and put in another of his regular man of the match performances in a Sunderland defeat.
It’s well noted that the Black Cats have a number of Everton links but will be without loan duo Ty Browning and Brendan Galloway as the pair are ineligible to play against their parent club.
Yet, there could be Goodison Park returns for Darron Gibson, Aiden McGeady, Jack Rodwell, Bryan Oviedo and James Vaughan. Vaughan, a former Everton youth prospect, has not had the chance to line-up against his former team since departing in 2011.
Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Holgate, Baines, Besic, Gana, Klaassen, Lookman, Vlasic and Sandro.
Sunderland: Steele, Love, Kone, O'Shea, Wilson, Oviedo, Gibson, Rodwell, Honeyman, Gooch and Asoro.
Match Day Stats:
1. Everton have only progressed past the third round of the League Cup in two of the past seven seasons.
2. The Blues have faced Sunderland in the League Cup twice before but have been knocked out on both occasions. Both of those games were at Goodison Park.
3. Everton have lost only twice against the Black Cats in their last 17 meetings in all competitions at Goodison Park - 12 wins and three draws.