Everton’s latest attempt to win a trophy under David Moyes recommences on Saturday as Wigan Athletic visit Goodison Park in the FA Cup. Having already beaten the Premier League strugglers 3-1 earlier this season, the home side would have a right to feel confident about their prospects in the fixture – but hopefully not too confident.
The sides last met in December 2012 and Everton ran out 2-1 winners, goals from Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka giving the Toffees the win. Arouna Kone netted late on for Roberto Martinez’s men, who saw an appeal for a penalty rejected after Shaun Maloney tumbled in the area. Kone’s goal gave Wigan hope and had Everton’s backs to the wall for the final few minutes but over the course of the match, Everton could claim the victory was deserved.
But – unfortunately for Everton – that’s no guarantee of a repeat this weekend, a point Moyes should be drilling into the heads of his players after last season’s run to the competition’s semi-finals very nearly came to an end at this same stage. It was a home quarter-final against Sunderland and, perhaps subconsciously, most people in Goodison that afternoon felt Everton were bound for the next round.
Sunderland though scored first and gave Everton a scare, with the match going to a replay at the Black Cats’ Stadium of Light. It turned out to be one of Everton’s best performances of the season, the 2-0 victory on Wearside, but if Martin O’Neill’s team had held firm for the rest of the original meeting, it never would have come to pass. It’s a fate Everton must avoid this year.
With only one defeat at home all season, Everton have a solid record in front of their own fans. But it is mitigated by the six draws they’ve also recorded, to go with the seven wins. A point against Arsenal or Liverpool – especially after going behind, as they did in both of those games – is a decent return, but drawing with mid-table Swansea, Newcastle and Norwich is less impressive and speaks to how at times Everton have struggled at Goodison.
There was no such struggle last time out against Reading, bar the first 20 minutes or so when the Royals could have been a goal up, Adam Le Fondre hitting the post. Everton though rode out the storm and won out safely, in the process ensuring they come into the cup match on the crest of an admittedly fragile wave.
It’s only a few weeks since Everton’s form was pretty dire, points thrown away in all directions but the cup represents a chance to build on the Reading win and inch closer to that elusive trophy.
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