by Paddy Feeney
Blackpool’s reward for cruising past Sheffield Wednesday in their fourth round replay is another chance to visit the ground which hosted one of the most entertaining clashes of Blackpool’s stay in the Premiership. Goodison Park will welcome the in-form Seasiders as Everton look to build on their impressive victory of Chelsea at the weekend.
The neutrals will not forget the Seasiders’ last trip to Merseyside in a hurry. Louis Saha’s 4 goal heroics saw Everton over the line in a dramatic 5-3 win for the Blues, with Jermaine Beckford also getting on the scoresheet. Both have since left the club, as have two of Blackpool’s goalscorers, with Charlie Adam and Jason Puncheon both moving on. The only man who made a contribution to the scoring that day who remains at his club is Alex Baptiste.
The general consensus among the fans and the media is that this one could be another cracker. Everton are starting to find some form this season, with the likes of Victor Anichebe finally fulfilling some of his promise after countless injury layoffs. Blackpool are unbeaten in 2012, and will go into the game under no pressure, allowing them to entertain, and go for the jugular.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway has said that, despite enjoying a first cup run at Blackpool, the league has to be the main priority, and that the players must guard against complacency.
‘We need to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard because for a large period of that game we were excellent. I didn’t like the little bit that was a bit of a blip and it could have cost us, but it didn’t so let’s get on with the FA Cup game on the weekend.’
Everton club captain Phil Neville watched Blackpool’s 4th round replay win at Hillsborough and said he expects them to provide a stern test at Goodison Park.
‘I watched them against Sheffield Wednesday in the replay (of the last round) and they looked every bit as good as they did in the Premier League.
it looks like they have got over the hangover of their relegation and it wouldn’t surprise me if they bounced straight back up. We are the team expected to win but they will come and attack us.’
Everton Team News:
Everton are without the cup-tied Steven Pienaar for the 5th round clash at Goodison Park, due to the on-loan winger having already participated in the FA Cup for his parent club, Tottenham. New signing Nikica Jelavic could be set for his first start for the Toffees, but will have to beat Dennis Stracqualursi to lead the line at the weekend.
Player to watch: Leighton Baines
The England full back is likely to cause Blackpool problems at both ends of the pitch. Solid in defence, with a vicious left foot at set pieces and deliveries into the box, Blackpool will have to be wary of Baines’ threat.
Blackpool Team News:
Blackpool have no new injury concerns ahead of their trip to Everton. Matt Phillips could return from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the win at Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night. Roman Bednar is also set for a recall up front as Blackpool look to shuffle their forward options.
Player to watch: Gary Taylor-Fletcher
After a magnificent display in the midweek win, Taylor-Fletcher will be desperate to line up against his boyhood enemies in the FA Cup. A Liverpool fan as he grew up, his return to form will give Blackpool creativity and strength going forward.
Match Facts & Stats
There is no lack of connections between the two clubs when it comes to former players.
Fans of the older generation will remember the likes of Alan Ball and Fred Pickering lining up in both the Tangerine of Blackpool and the Blue of Everton, while younger fans will know of Peter Clarke, John Hills and current Seasider Keith Southern spending time at Goodison Park and Bloomfield Road.
Despite both teams having illustrious histories in the competition, this is the first time that Everton and Blackpool have met in the FA Cup.
Of the last 26 meetings between the two sides in all competitions, Blackpool have only come out on top twice.
Tuesday 21st February, 2012
West Ham United (h)